First, he went for trials in Asia, with a Chinese club and Europe (Bulgarian and Norway) but failed to secure any concrete contract. Then came a major breakthrough when the current African champions, Esperance Sportive de Tunis, decided to give Lokosa a chance.The Tunisian club offered him a two-and-a-half-year contract on January 14, 2019.“It was only after the Eunisell Boot was awarded to me, along with all the publicity that my career turned around,” Lokosa stated, while speaking on how Eunisell’s involvement helped to boost his career.And even though he has just spent barely a month with the prestigious Tunisia giants, his exposure has opened his eyes to the positive impact big business can have on the “Beautiful Game”.Lokosa now believes that with more sponsors emulating Eunisell, clubs and players will be the major beneficiaries, and the standard of the game will improve across the country.The role and benefits of the private sector cannot be over emphasised in the growth of the world’s most popular sports in Nigeria.However, he is not the only one with this view as stakeholders are also of the opinion that private participation in football is non-negotiable as without it, the game will continue to go round in circles with no real progress.Highlighting some of these benefits, China Acheru, a broadcaster and former spokesman of Dolphins FC (now Rivers United) reiterated this posits.According to him, the private sector brings a different feel to how football/sports are run, adding that there is more accountability, better financial management and better planning and ultimately a better product for the fans to enjoy.Acheru decried what he described as “the overbearing hands of government on football,” as what presently obtains. This, according to him must be reduced.“There is a saying that goes, government money is free money, and that is probably why state-owned football units are run without accountability or checks and balances.“As the Nigeria Professional Football League currently is, there are FC Ifeanyi Ubah, Remo Stars, Kada City, MFM and Go Round FC. One side of the coin is owning football clubs and bringing about professionalism in the way these clubs are run and the other is collectively affecting the growth of football.“The private participation brings a sense of organisation/responsibility and attention to details. These hardly exist in the current setting.“Nigerian football actually needs the private sector to grow and they must come in form of financiers and managers of the game.“But for the private sector to come in and effectively help in the development of football, the game must truly be private,” he said.Acheru also added that with the private sector, the structure of these football clubs will be more visible. A well-run football club means development from the grassroots to the pro-ranks.On sponsorship, he added: “The NFF is about football development but the norm, especially in Nigeria, is that the federation sits back, waits for government money, then organise the FA Cup in respective states.“Financial partners are major decision makers as far as the products the sponsor are concerned. The right people putting their money in football can decide how they want the game run.This means funds are available for the FAs to really fulfill their role of development of football from the grassroots.”Also speaking specifically on how private partners can come in to ensure this development takes place, Harry Iwuala, Head Special Projects, League Management Company (LMC), the firm that oversees the running of the professional league in the country, pointed out that private participation in football development comes in many variants.“In league football, there’s private participation by way of club ownership/part ownership, there’s also participation by ownership of facilities such as we see with Rojenny, Power Mike Sports Centre and so on; and you also have participation by ownership of broadcast facilities which is provided for production and distribution of match broadcast signals.“In broader terms, private participation is viewed from sponsorship and partnership with rights owners such as title rights/category exclusivity, club shirts, stadium naming rights, broadcast sponsorship and partnership as well as vending rights.“At the end of the day, football development can only come about when there is funding to hire staff (playing, technical and backroom), build facilities (playing fields, training gyms, equipment etc.).“The chief objective of sponsorship and partnerships is to generate revenue to drive the business of football and at the end, make profit. In Nigeria and elsewhere, private participation is desired either in ownership of clubs and facilities to reduce government influence and in sponsorship to generate fund to run quality competition and reward for players.”Highlighting the impact of sponsorship on Tunisian football, Lokosa said: “Esperance is a big brand backed by several sponsors across diverse sectors of the Tunisian economy such as automobile, hospitality and the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry.”The 25-year-old noted that global brands have now turned to football’s top stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to boost their marketing strategies, adding that companies in Nigeria can also emulate this act, to advance a sport that brings joy to the heart of many people in the country.A very good example of the impact of sponsorship on football is the popular English Premier League, which has been elevated to a global behemoth in no small measure to the money put into it by Sky Sports.Only last year the satellite broadcast company splashed a staggering £3.58 billion (N1, 682,600,000,000) for a three-year deal to broadcast the league around the world.From this amount, the 20 clubs in the elite league shared £2.42 billion (N 1,137,400,000,000) from the TV sponsorship deal. And because of this enormous sponsorship fee, the clubs are able to use the money to attract some of the best players to the Premier League because of the huge salaries they can offer them from their share of the billions.For instance Manchester United was able to land Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal by offering him wages of £350, 000 a week, far above what the Gunners offered him.So while we are not expecting the NPFL to become a trillion naira business over night the earlier the private sector join the bandwagon the sooner they and football fans will enjoy the fallout from the mutually benefitting partnershipShare this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Junior Lokosa training with his Esperance teammates in Tunisia When Junior Lokosa picked up the first ever Eunisell Boot Award, for emerging the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL’s) 2017/18 season highest goal scorer with 19 goals, the then Kano Pillars FC hitman not envisage the career-defining boost it would have on him in the next couple of months.For his performance in Nigeria’s top football league, the 25-year-old was presented with a glittering trophy and a cheque for N3.8million from one of the nation’s foremost chemical and specialty fluid management companies.The publicity and media hype he got from achieving this feat reverberated beyond the shores of the ‘Giant of Africa’ catching the attention of international clubs.
From dilapidated to well-oiled, nonexistent to lethal — the Syracuse offense was a roller coaster on Thursday against Wake Forest.At its lowest, the unit amassed minus five total yards in the first quarter and more penalty yards (56) than total offense (52) by halftime. The result was a 20-7 Wake Forest lead.But at its peak, Ryan Nassib completed 13-of-15 passes after halftime, Antwon Bailey exploded and Van Chew made the two biggest receptions of his life.‘We were looking for that explosiveness from them right off the get-go, but hey, better late than never,’ Syracuse defensive end Mikhail Marinovich said.An inept SU (1-0, 0-0 Big East) offense rebooted itself in the second half and lit up the same Wake Forest defense that stymied the Orange through 30 minutes of play. Syracuse erased a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit courtesy of its sudden high-octane attack and pulled off the program’s largest comeback since 2003, stunning the Demon Deacons 36-29 in overtime.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThough more than half of the 40,833 in attendance had already exited with the game seemingly out of reach for SU, those who stuck it out were treated to a classic.‘That’s one of the best wins since I’ve been in Syracuse,’ Bailey said. ‘To do it in the fashion we did it, to come from so many points down and then to do it in the Dome. It doesn’t get any better than that.’Jimmy Newman’s 40-yard field goal with 11:02 remaining in the fourth quarter marked the beginning of the game’s second act. Those three points gave Wake Forest a 29-14 lead, which appeared insurmountable given the inconsistent performance of the SU offense to that point.On the sidelines, though, the Syracuse offense gathered together and agreed that it was now or never if the team wanted to enjoy its season opener.Nassib, who started the game 1-for-5, couldn’t miss. Twenty-one yards to Alec Lemon, nine more to Lemon on the next play, 24 yards to Chew five plays later. He completed all five passes on the drive for 59 yards, capping it off with a two-yard touchdown pass to fullback Adam Harris to make the score 29-21.‘We got it within eight, and I felt like that was a big turning point for the team,’ Harris said. ‘Everybody started getting a little excitement. The stadium felt alive again.’Then it was Bailey’s turn. The SU senior running back couldn’t find a single crease in the first half. Outside of one 10-yard gain, he had just 11 yards on seven carries.But with one 53-yard burst, he put to bed all of the criticism and hype surrounding his 5-foot-7-inch, 201-pound frame. He broke a run outside, down the left sideline and outran the Wake Forest defense to bring Syracuse within two at 29-27.He finished the game with 114 rushing yards and two touchdowns.Chew made a diving catch falling out of the back right corner of the end zone, dragging his left hip along the Carrier Dome turf to convert the two-point conversion.SU emerged from the murky depths to stun Wake Forest with 15 points in a span of 3:55.‘We like teams that pressure us because now you can get the big play,’ SU head coach Doug Marrone said. ‘We were able to make some big plays. I’m disappointed we couldn’t make them earlier.’With the score deadlocked 29-29, Nassib and Marinovich flashed back to the season opener in 2008. Greg Paulus guided the Orange into overtime against Minnesota, but an interception in the back of the end zone cost Syracuse the game.But Nassib said this team is tougher. The bond is stronger. So as SU began overtime with the ball, the white-hot offense composed of a ‘brotherhood’ forged onward.Nassib went back to Chew. The receiver absorbed a shot from Wake Forest strong safety Cyhl Quarles on first down and hauled in a 16-yard deep comeback, setting up the Orange with a first-and-goal.Two plays later, Nassib faced a strong rush off a play-action fake and backpedaled away from danger. He floated a pass to Chew in the front left corner of the end zone.Chew slid forward, caught the ball and rolled onto his side to protect the ball. Touchdown.‘I saw the ball in the air, and I was like, ‘I have to get it. We have to score,” Chew said. ‘So I just went after it.’Syracuse took the lead 36-29, and four plays later the team stormed the field. The defense forced a turnover on downs to cap the most dramatic comeback since the Paul Pasqualoni era.Fortunate, yes. But impressive as well. The 22 unanswered points shocked the Demon Deacons, whose players stood motionless on the field as their fourth-down pass toward wide receiver Chris Givens was batted down by SU’s Kevyn Scott.Syracuse stole the game away with an unthinkable turnaround.‘It was probably the best game I ever played in my life and been in,’ Chew said. ‘And how we just came back from everything, from adversity and stuff and just to get that win in overtime is amazing.’email@example.com Published on August 31, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Michael: firstname.lastname@example.org | @Michael_Cohen13 Comments Facebook Twitter Google+