Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
Chairman of ABS FC of Ilorin, Seni Saraki, has said that the five-year partnership deal between PUMA, the global sports lifestyle brand and his club, has the potential of raising the profile of the nation’s football.
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony of the PUMA-ABS Ilorin FC jersey held at the Palms Mall, Ilorin, Kwara State recently, he added that the partnership involves the provision of kit for ABS FC and sponsorship of the club activities by PUMA. ABS is the first ever Nigeria topflight outfit to join Puma’s portfolio of club kit sponsorship.
“It is the first of its kind partnership that represents the biggest football Kit sponsorship in the history of the Nigerian football league aimed at growing and developing sports in Nigeria”, he said.
“The partnership with PUMA aligns with the club’s vision for where the club is right now, and where they will be in the future. PUMA is known for delivering top level results whilst being innovative, and this is what ABS Ilorin symbolises”, Saraki continued
He disclosed that ABS Ilorin is currently two years into the six-year plan set out by the current administration when the club was overhauled in 2015, saying that it is massively overachieving as it stands.
In his words: “Whilst we did not project to reach the NPFL till 2018 due to the well-documented difficulty of gaining promotion from the NNL, we have already done that a year early and are more than holding our own in the Premier Division against clubs with substantially larger resources. The primary end-goal of the six-year plan is to represent Nigeria at the CAF Champions League, and do so by winning the NPFL.
“We also aim to promote the ABS Ilorin FC brand not just throughout Kwara State, but Nigeria as a whole, resulting in it being a commercially viable global brand,”
On her part, the Brand Manager PUMA, Persianas Retail Limited, Miss Aderemi Adefolabi, said that the partnership is in line with Puma’s commitment to the growth and development of sports in Nigeria.
“ABS FC has shown potentials of being a great club not just in Nigeria, but also in Africa and this has informed PUMA’s decision to provide the necessary support for it to achieve its potentials”, Afolabi said.
She continued, “All over the world, PUMA has shown strong commitment to the development of the round-leather game and its sponsorship cross across leading football clubs and national teams. Some of the teams that have benefitted from PUMA’s partnership include Arsenal FC, Borussia Dortmund and Sydney FC. Some of the national teams that have also benefitted from PUMA’s partnership include Italy, Switzerland, Australia, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Uruguay.
ABS Ilorin FC (formerly known as Bukola Babes) first won promotion to the Premier League in 2009-2010. In 2011,they were put up for sale before being purchased by Bukola Saraki. They narrowly maintained Premier League status in consecutive seasons before being relegated in 2013.
After two seasons in the NNL, ABS Ilorin was taken over and restructured by Seni Saraki and the current administration, with a philosophy built upon nurturing talent from a young age and putting the players first always. After narrowly missing out on promotion in the first season, ABS Ilorin won the NNL in 2016 to be promoted to the NPFL.
In their debut season, ABS are just five points off continental football for next year, and rank highest amongst all the promoted teams from 2016. They are widely regarded by fans and pundits as one of the best footballing teams in the country on their day, primarily fielding youth players from the local community, as opposed to heavy transfer dealings every summer.