…SET TO PLACE NIGERIA ON THE GLOBAL MAP IN COLLEGIATE SPORTS

In a bid to grow collegiate sports in Nigeria, PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing, has launched the Higher Institutions Football League (HiFL) for football teams in higher institutions in Nigeria. HiFL will be the first organised collegiate football league in Nigeria. This development has undoubtedly created a huge platform for various brands, which are bound to enjoy optimal visibility with marketing shares increasing in leaps and bounds.

The maiden HiFL games are scheduled to hold from July 28, 2018 to October 27, 2018. The league will commence with universities, which has been zoned into the Atlantic Conference (South) and the Savannah Conference (North) for reasons of proximity and effective administration.

The mix of sports, especially soccer with brands and marketing has been an agelong story. Brands and sporting events have long played nicely together, especially in the arena of sponsorships where brands have been able to put their name all over uniforms, racing cars, and stadium grounds. Sport sponsorship is one of the most efficient and economical ways to promote brands and products through an emotional environment. HifL, will no doubt, be a game changer for brands and soccer loving youth in the country.

According to the Director, PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing, Mr. Sola Fijabi, HiFL has been designed for the purpose of youth development in Nigeria through sports. HiFL will also place collegiate sports in Nigeria on the same pedestal as their counterparts in other countries that have recorded successes and build a strong ecosystem of young, home-grown football talents that may become invaluable for future national engagement.

L-R: Alhaji Ahmed Shuaibu Gara Gombe, CEO, GWG Sports Centre Limited and Technical Consultant, Higher Institutions Sports League (HiSL); Mr. Sola Fijabi, Director, PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing: Dr. Maryam Sali, Director, Student Support Services, National Universities Commission and Prof. Stephen Hamafyelto, President, Nigerian Universities Games Association (NUGA) at the MoU signing and international press launch of the Higher Institution Football League (HiFL) held in Lagos today.

“HiFL is designed to engage and showcase exciting sporting talents from tertiary institutions in Nigeria. HiFL is a part of a bigger body, which is the HiSL -Higher Institutions Sports League. The quest to establish this platform was borne out of the great desire to engage Nigerian youth. Presently, a significant number of this set of youths are in the universities spread across the country. These talents must be identified and nurtured for sustainability,” Fijabi said.

In his remark, the President of the Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA), Prof. Stephen Hamafyelto expressed his delight about the initiative and promised the support of the body.

“This initiative is long overdue. We need to engage our youths to better focus on their all-round development. HiFL’s format is brilliant with an even more interesting execution plan. HiFL will complement the efforts of NUGA to bring back the good old days of competitive inter-school games with all the excitement therein. Interestingly, we are starting with football, which may be described as the pivot of Nigerian sports in an arrangement that we hope will spread to other sports later” Hamafyelto said.

Director, Student Support Services, National Universities Commision, Dr Maryam Sali added that “the passion that football generates is overwhelming and the youths in Nigeria have found a common ground in the excitement that the sport provides. We aspire to contribute our quota to the development of sports in Nigeria and we are glad that HiFL is providing a viable platform for private-public partnership that key into the agenda of the Federal Government for youth and socio economic development in Nigeria”.

In his goodwill message, the President of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) Mr. Amaju Pinnick lauded the initiative and stated “HiFL is a noble and maiden project that we are looking forward to it becoming an annual event”.

The HiFL is endorsed by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the National Universities Commission (NUC) and Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA). The winner of HiFL will represent Nigeria at the International University Sports Federation games.

BY KEHINDE OLESIN