Once the Nigerian team defeated Iceland on Friday, 22 June, the hype surrounding the Super Eagles team and kit became rejuvenated as fans took to the streets and social media to celebrate and proudly show off their jerseys. To make Nigeria’s outing in the World Cup even more memorable, Nike has released This is Naija: A Nigerian Football Story—a short film celebrating football culture in the country.
Nike’s latest film takes a look past the highly sought after jersey to open our eyes to the evolution of football in Nigeria. Directed by Nigerian photographer/filmmaker Andrew Dosunmu, who also produced the 2006 feature The African Game, the short film is Nike’s tribute to the ‘Naija spirit’ which they refer to as “an unbridled, optimistic, confident approach to football—and to life—that sets Nigeria apart.” The film captures this through the depiction of street football which helped shape some of the Nigerian football stars we know today.
“Nigerian football will rule the football world for the next decade,” Segun Odegbami (a star of the 1980 Nigerian Africa Cup team) boldly states in Nike’s new documentary.
In a sport seen as dominated by men even at viewing centres where football matches are watched, the film goes further to show how women are contributing to the growth of the sport. With exclusive insights from Super Eagles players like Odion Ighalo and Wilfred Ndidi; and musicians like Davido, Nneka, Adegoke Odukoya, Aisha Angie Kuta and others, the film shares how the Super Eagles’ mission to bring Naija to the world takes shape.
Football provides a rhythm for daily life in the streets, the clubs, the markets and on the pitches made of sand and used tyres, “from the energy and chaos of Lagos to the wooded savannas of Abeokuta”. As Nike rightly says:
“Wherever you travel in this diverse country of over 500 different ethnic groups, it is football that serves as the universal language, the connective tissue, that unifies this land, and drives the spirit, belief and energy of Nigeria today.”