Raw talent in soccer, is unarguably a common natural resource littered around every nook in Africa. Then I start to wonder.. If such good football is played in Africa, why’s the dream of the average African footballer focused solely on crossing the Mediterranean? Hold that thought for a second, I think I get it!
Mainstream Europe is the hub of soccer, so it isn’t criminal for African players to nurse a little ambition of plying their trade there.
But what I really can’t understand, is why I look through a country’s team sheet and I’m left bewildered at the teams these African players ply their trade with overseas. Some are attached to teams of remote leagues in Europe, in countries like Faroe Islands, Albania, Moldova, etc. Some others play for teams in fringe ‘footballing’ nations like Mongolia, Kuwait and even the Philippines! Perhaps there’s more to football after all, than just assembling talented players on the pitch.
Sponsorship revenue have proven overtime, to be very effective in making football leagues very attractive and this is lacking on a broad scale in Africa! With the massive financial stunts the Asians are pulling on a daily, we’re left completely stunned at the influx of foreign players trooping in large numbers to China, the UAE and most recently, Japan.
The same can be said for the American MLS, which although has more or less become a campground for retiring legends with tired legs from the rigorous fitness routine in Europe, but the MLS have grown some remarkable reputation for itself!
What’s more romantic than wooing a great player with a very generous weekly earning?
The continuous trend of African players scrambling for greener pastures overseas, remain on the increase! If these players unfortunately don’t make the cut at the highly competitive ivy league clubs in Europe, they make do with the remote leagues, just to fit into the attractive social status of ‘foreign-based professionals’. After all, who cares what team jersey you represent, just play soccer anywhere but Africa!
Football administration isn’t exactly at its best in Africa. Also, foreign players from other continents are rarely injected into the leagues, private sponsorship is largely limited and most notably, established African footballers overseas hardly or never consider the prospects of rounding off their careers in Africa, as opposed to the popular style of South Americans.
These few loopholes if efficiently addressed, can work amazing miracles and begin the process of rebranding football leagues across Africa, in such a way that makes it attractive to fans and foreign spectators. Maybe we might be lucky as well, to retain a fat number of the prodigal indigenous talents along the line!
By Nimi Princewill.
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