Trophy 5-a-side: In Support of Grassroots Talents

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Football is many things to many people. To the man who constantly worries about providing basic amenities for his family, football is a momentary escape from his reality or a soothing respite to life’s daily grind. But to the young boy on the streets with no idea what the future holds, football could be life changing and it has been. From Kanu Nwankwo, Jay Jay Okocha, Odion Ighalo and Emmanuel Emenike to practically most of the current and ex Nigerian internationals, the game has created a life of comfort, luxury, purpose and fame for people with humble beginnings.

For those who can neither play casually nor professionally, but simply enjoy viewing an interesting match, soccer is regarded as a universal language that transcends chasing a ball around a stadium. It is the backbone of many friendships, encouraging conviviality and team spirit, creating bonds and lasting relationships. For a nation as diversified as Nigeria, football is still regarded as one of the strongest unifying forces.

In Nigeria, football almost has a cult-like following with young people turning the streets to football pitches as they play 5-a-side matches with their peers. These matches are a variation of association football, in which each team has five players, comprising four outfield players and one goalkeeper.

In South America, the 5-a-side football known as ‘Futsal’ has been strategically deployed for years to develop football. Stars like Ronaldo and Messi developed their skills while playing in 5-a-side teams before making their mark in football and on the global stage.

The Nigerian youth, quite content with transforming their footwears into goal posts even adopt the names of their football heroes as aliases and swell up with pride when they are hailed by those names. That they are talented is not in doubt, what they seek are opportunities or platforms to showcase their skills and dexterity to the world.

Aware of this seemingly neglected culture and the developmental potential it possesses, International Breweries PLC, a proud member of world’s largest brewer, ABInBev through one of its leading brands; Trophy Lager introduced a 5-a-side football tournament. The tournament saw teams from communities in Ogun, Osun, Oyo and Lagos states slug it out to win the cash prize of N3 million as well as an opportunity to meet Samuel Eto’o, renowned African football superstar and learn a thing or two from him while participating in the continental finals taking place in Tanzania later this year.

The process was quite simple. All consumers needed to do was to purchase a predetermined number of Trophy lager and register their team of 10 players for the tournament at Trophy designated bars in their neighborhoods.

A total of 1080 teams entered into the competition which comprised several knockout rounds. The pace picked up further with the Quarter and Semifinal rounds and Scope FC of Lagos emerged as the eventual winners of the maiden edition. They will in a few weeks be flying high the flag of Nigeria in the ‘Africa 5 tournament’ regional finals which holds in Tanzania. Third placed team, Amsterdam FC of Obalende and second place Ifayemi FC of Ile-Ife were also presented their cash prizes of N500,000 and N1,000,000 respectively.

To mentor the team during the process, IB PLC enlisted the help of Joseph Yobo, Nigerian ex-international football player and one time Super Eagles captain, as campaign ambassador. Yobo fits perfectly with the IB PLC goal as he is heavily involved in the development of grassroots talent. No surprise here, as he too began his career by playing in the rural areas of the South-Southern region and went on to become a great soccer star, playing for top clubs in Europe. Through his foundation, Yobo continues to inspire many and has launched a football academy in prisons to help secure the release of many inmates while giving them hope for a brighter future after incarceration.

In her closing remarks, Managing Director,  International Breweries Plc, Annabelle Degroot, expressed her hope of one day looking back at the Nigerian national team and realising that a few of the players were discovered while playing at one of Trophy’s 5-a-side tournaments. “The tournament has been incredibly successful thanks to the camaraderie displayed by all our teams. We are grateful to the participants and look forward to the Nigerian team joining the regional finals in Tanzania. It would be our dream to see a future Super Eagles grown from the community ranks through the Trophy Field of Honour.”

Although this maiden edition did not get to the six geopolitical zones, Trophy lovers from all over the country also got the opportunity to participate in the fun by becoming Super Fans. The selection process of the super fans who will accompany the Nigerian team to Tanzania was conducted nationwide with winners selected through a raffle draw during the finale. Four super fans have now been selected to accompany the winning team on an-all expense paid trip to Tanzania.

Trophy Lager is not new to the business of giving back to its loyal consumers as just a few months ago the brand ended its national consumer promo initiated to commemorate its 40th anniversary through which it made many of its loyal consumer’s millionaires. Over 400 people were rewarded with cash gifts for their loyalty to the brand during the promo.

Trophy Lageralso tapped into Nigeria’s love for music by organising a series of music concerts to celebrate its loyal consumers. The concerts were organised in Ibadan and Ilesa in the southwest of Nigeria with a retinue of rave making musicians at both events. The concert had the likes of Pasuma, Oritsefemi, Teni the Entertainer, SlimCase, Taiye Currency and a host of others. The Trophy 5-a-side tournament like many other initiatives from IB PLC, was created to support Nigeria’s passion for developing talent, creating opportunities, fostering goodwill and encouraging patriotism in the county

Thus, when Captain of the winning team, Folorunsho Sunday, expressed his gratitude to International Breweries for providing such a platform for youths to showcase their skills, it served as a clear testament that the Trophy 5-a-side tournament had achieved its set goal.

For the brand and the sundry beneficiaries of this campaign, it has been a case of preparation meets opportunity. International Breweries has clearly identified the passion points of the consuming public and it is relentless in the pursuit to stay in touch through this very accomplished strategy which brings value and satisfaction to the consumer.