Back to the stands: Sunshine, Heartland experience | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Back to the stands: Sunshine, Heartland experience

Posted: Apr 25, 2015 at 6:46 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The need to get the fans back to the stand has been a worrisome issue to Nigerian football administrators in recent times but the trend for now seems to be changing for the better if the spectatorship recorded in Week 4 Sunshine Stars/Dolphins encounter is anything to go by.

heartlandIn Week 5 fixtures reports of encouraging ‘mammoth’ spectatorship was also recorded at the Dan Anyiam Stadium Owerri, in the encounter between Heartland and Abia Warriors, though specific figure was not mentioned.

The Sunshine/Dolphins clash according to a survey by, the figure got to a record 5,125 and officials of the club attributed the improved turn-out to a new drive by the Club’s management that has embarked on awareness campaign and the introduction of incentives to reward fans.

The Ondo State Football Agency’s Deputy Director Marketing & Corporate Affairs, Ayodeji Adegbenro, explained in a chat that the agency took the initiative to get the spectators to back to the stadium.

He also disclosed that the chairman of the agency, Akin Akinbobola, had earlier set up a task force to design and implement strategies on engaging the community to grow spectatorship on match days.

According to Adegbenro, “In the week leading to the Week 4 game, we had a road show in Akure and neighbouring towns, radio and TV jingles and also sent out bulk SMS to inform people about the game. On Match Day itself, we provided some side attractions that kept the fans entertained before, during and after the game. The match itself was just a part of the entire event.”

He said the incentives introduced by the League Management Company (LMC) to reward clubs that record attendance of upwards of 5,000 fans in a match motivated the club to design and implement the plans that led to Sunday’s increased attendance.

Adegbenro also explained that, “Attracting huge crowds to games increases the brand appeal of the club to existing and potential sponsors and inspires the players to improved performances on the pitch. Generally, it creates the right ambience for television broadcast and makes the league attractive to watch by those at home.”

On the side attractions he said “The match day experience was fun-filled as we had a Disc Jockey (DJ) and a dance crew that entertained the crowd.

“We also held a promotional raffle draw that saw some of the spectators winning items such as footballs, club jerseys, Vuvuzelas, free drinks, etc we plan for this to be a regular feature all through the season.

“The idea is to provide an enriching experience for the fans to have a reason to not only return for subsequent games but also bring along their friends, relations and business and work colleagues.”

He assured fans of dequate measures to ensure their comfort and safety during games. “We have also made our stadium gender and family friendly. We intend to do more by creating this carnival-like atmosphere in all our home games all through the season.”

Similarly, the good football by any team is also an attraction to spectators according to former Super Falcons coach, Godwin Izilein.

“If a particular team is playing very well, people would want to watch their game because what is most interesting in football is good play and when of course the is glamor good kiting and providing some side attractions,” Izilein said,

No doubt the above (good football) explains the Heartland/Warriors experience as the teeming fans of both teams trooped to the stadium to experience the new found form of the Naze Millionaires that before then were unstoppable.

Finally, all NPFL clubs should imbibe this culture narrated above to get the desired spectatorship that can invariably yield good fortunes from gate takings in the future where clubs will no longer be dependent on government for all their needed funds.