MIKEL: ‘My Kwese Deal Will Open Doors to Coming Generation’

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Last Saturday was another milestone for Super Eagles Captain, John Mikel Obi following his unveiling as an ambassador of Kwese, the Econet Media’s pan-African broadcast network which is the fastest growing satellite television provider in Nigeria. In this report, FEMI SOLAJA takes a look at what the staggering offer will translate to when the activation gets underway at the World Cup finals in Russia in a fortnight

The excitement on the face of the former FC Chelsea midfielder knew no bound during his presentation last week as the brand ambassador of Kwesé. Although both parties were not willing to disclose the financial details of the agreement, a reliable source close to Kwesé told THISDAY that it was, perhaps, the most lucrative deal signed by any sport personality on the continent of Africa. It was speculated that the Tianjin Teda FC player is to earn something in the region of €5 million per year for the next three years!

“All I can tell you is that it’s a good deal for me and Kwesé. My focus now is how to make the best out of this project and not necessarily the financial rewards that comes with it. It’s a massive deal for my standard as a footballer from Africa,” remarked the Super Eagles captain.

When the deal is activated this June, Mikel is expected to represent the dynamic broadcaster’s services and initiatives across the continent, starting with the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.

Mikel will feature in Kwesé’s upcoming advertising campaigns that will encompass print, television and radio.

The satellite television provider, Kwesé is the continent’s fastest growing media business with a diversified offering that includes Africa’s largest free-to-air channel, Kwesé Free Sports, a pay TV satellite network, Kwesé TV, mobile services and digital all under one roof. With a strong presence across sub-Saharan Africa through its various platforms, Kwesé is arguably Africa’s most exciting and innovative broadcaster.

“In choosing the right personality to partner our brands we wanted someone who embodies what we stand for as an African broadcaster. Mikel represents exceptional sporting talent and is loved by fans across the continent. His commitment to excellence and his work to improve the sporting talent of the next generation of athletes made him the perfect choice for us,” stressed the President and Group Chief Executive Officer of Econet Media, Joseph Hundah.

In his response, Mikel said “I am proud to become the face of Kwesé TV globally. I am excited to work with a media network that is redefining broadcasting in Africa, bringing pay as you watch TV, free to air TV and digital programming.

“As in my football career, it was important to me to represent an organisation that puts fans and/customers first, power, pride, strength and most importantly, a consistent winner”.

With an annual payment of €5 million, the Mikel Obi African Children Sports Foundation will be a major beneficiary of the deal. Mikel who is one of only two African players to have won Europe’s top two continental club competitions, UEFA Champions League and Europa Cup both with Chelsea explained that the deal will afford him the opportunity to expand the scope with the Foundation.

“The deal will further allow us widen our scope as we seeks to alleviate poverty by empowering young Africans through sports and specifically nurturing talents in football, rugby, tennis, cycling, basketball, cricket, hockey and athletics. The Foundation will help pull these kids out of poverty and take them to stardom in their chosen sports,” Mikel explained.

The beneficiaries will have access to a range of specialist coaches and teachers providing them with a unique opportunity to hone their skills. Extending beyond athletic support and it will also assists children with an interest in sports sciences, nutrition, physiotherapy and the like to realise their dreams and forge a better future for themselves and their families.

Mikel sees the deal as an equivalent of mega sponsorship top star footballers like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest have signed in the past with top multinational corporation. “By African standard, the deal with Kwese is a big thing although it may be far below what top footballers from Europe and Latin America have secured in the course of their career, however we have to start from somewhere.

“When I was growing up, I looked up to Kanu Nwankwo and Austin Okocha as role models and some players are looking up to me too especially as the captain of the national team to the World Cup finals and I hope that tomorrow they can get a better and more lucrative sponsorship that will change their lives too.

“It will no doubt inspires players in Africa but more importantly my country Nigeria. My wish is that this deal will open their world. I have paid my due in the national team and I expect all of them especially the younger ones to follow this step and improve on where I am today,” he commented.

The two-time recipient of the African Young Player of the Year award (2005, 2006) as well as the Chelsea Young Player of the Year award (2007, 2008) sees himself as a privileged player that will lead this generation of footballers to the World Cup finals.

“Nigeria will shake the world at the tournament and I am saying this with all sincerity of purpose that the present squad is very unique and with lots of determination in them they do not just want to play and reach the knockout stage, We all have aspiration to go all the way to the final match with God on our side.

“Most Nigerians seem not to believe in what we can do at the World Cup because Super Eagles’ previous record have placed us among participants but I want to assure Nigerians that we have crossed that path and our mind is set towards being grouped among contenders,” he asserted.

While most Nigerians are looking at Croatia and more importantly, Argentina as potential stumbling block to crossing the group stage, Mikel opted for Iceland whom many pundits see as no hopers. “We can get the results against Croatia in the opening match and Argentina in the last match but my fears is for the second match against Iceland because aside the fact that they are an assemblage of average players, the cohesion in the team is very high and that is what has kept them this far since the Euro Cup in 2016 and the qualifying tournament to the World Cup,” he pointed out.

Kwesé viewers can look forward to seeing one of their favourite African footballer on Kwesé’s screens in due course, starting with the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia campaign.