In recent times, we have come to acknowledge the relevance and impact of movements on social media on the real world. Campaigns such as the ALS #IceBucketChallenge and CocaCola #ShareACoke which started on social media have been translated into offline real world success.
Take the ALS #IceBucketChallenge for example, a man living with ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease) started the Ice Bucket Challenge on social media to raise awareness for the disease back in 2014. And just before we knew it, virtually everyone got in on the act and the ALS Association made it an official charity effort. The campaign was a huge success and ended up helping the association raise $115 million.
In Nigeria, the #BringBackOurGirls campaign also started on social media and helped garner global support for the rescue of 296 Chibok girls that were abducted by Boko Haram. Just like all these aforementioned campaigns, the Twitter Premier League (TPL) also started out on a social media platform, Twitter as a random tweet by football fan Efeoghene Ori-Jesu in 2014. Ever since then, TPL has grown to become a big brand, featuring on CNN, BBC, Guardian UK amongst other big media names in Nigeria.
The TPL is an alternative league with players recruited from Twitter. It is the first of its kind – a social media driven amateur/semi-professional football league – aimed at harnessing the passion of online football-crazy youths in Nigeria on Twitter, inviting them to organize themselves into football teams, complete with logos, guiding philosophies, team colours and jerseys.
The maiden edition, a one-day event, was held in Lagos back in May 2014 and was overwhelmingly successful, drawing a crowd of more than 500 people and the number has gradually increased at each tournament since. A total of 6 tournaments have been held since then, the last one being TPL 6 on the 19th of December 2015. Drones were even deployed to capture the games from above in the fifth edition.
With the 7th edition billed to come up this May in Lagos, TPL organisers decided to step out of their comfort zone to also launch its first out-of-Lagos edition. In doing so, they chose Enugu, the capital of the South-East, due to popular demand.
The first out-of-Lagos TPL, tagged #TPL042, symbolising the phone dial code of the chosen city, will be held this month (March 19th) just before Easter at UNEC Temporary Stadium, Enugu with four new teams to represent 4 major areas in Enugu Metropolis. These teams include @OtigbaFC (New Haven), @ConneFC (GRA), @OringoFC (Trans Ekulu) and @FCBisala (Independence Layout).
The teams have weekly trainings, club photoshoots and engage with their new fans through giveaways in a bid to grow local support. However, the teams currently lack sponsors and are calling on corporate companies as well as football loving philanthropists in the city to take advantage of this huge opportunity.
Furthermore, the TPL is not just about highly talented and passionate footballers competing for the much coveted TPL Championship title; it is also a networking event for youths to connect with each other, strengthen old bonds and foster new longlasting friendships whilst promoting grassroot football. It also provides a wonderful opportunity for young entrepreneurs and SME owners to promote, market and sell their products and services.
As a consequence, there will be side attractions at the event such as dancers/cheerleaders, medical team, food and drink (palm wine, abacha with nkwobi, small chops etc) vendors, great music, video games, snooker, table tennis and Dart. This is a great way to relax after an exhausting week at the office or school. It’s also a great way to support grassroot football and entrepreneurship in the City so don’t be left out, be part of history.
Follow the TPL handle – @thetpl as well as the Team handles on Twitter and Instagram. Also visit TPL’s official website www.thetpl.org
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Arinze Ude uses sports to promote personal and national development in Nigeria and writes at www.arturozinga.com.