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By Adedayo Odulaja, Reporter, Lagos
With thumping beats and sound blaring out of speakers all around, participants were welcomed into the Surulere centre where sports and entertainment mixed together in what turned out to be an exhilarating combination recently. Among the acts on stage to excite, Sound Sultan, who bears the musical torch of the Naija Ninjas, was among, dishing out many of the hit songs that are part of his hallmark since he came into the scene years ago.
Not left out in the entertaining spectacle were the likes of Mr. Raw who until a few years ago was known as Nigga Raw, Wiz Boy, Illbliss, Frank De Nero, Kola Soul, Sabim Terry G, Jaywon and Duncan Mighty.
Without mincing words, it was an event underlined by sporting flakes as Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, official sponsors of the Super Eagles, Nigeria’s senior football team, commenced setting a new world record: the unveiling of the largest football jersey the world has ever seen. It was done in front of teeming excited Guinness consumers and football fans at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
The unveiling event was witnessed by top dignitaries including the Lagos state governor, Babatunde Fashola and his Commissioner for Sports, Enitan Oshodi.
The jersey, sprawled out on the main football pitch of the stadium which recently hosted the National Sports Festival hosted by the state government, was measured by the quantity surveying firm, Billings Cost Associates and as well vetted by renowned audit firm, Alexander Forbes. The results of both assessments were later presented to Guinness Managing Director, Seni Adetu, indicating a new record that had been set with the Jersey confirmed at 249.9 feet by 275.58 feet in size. That makes it a new record having thumped the world record of 234feet and 1inch by 259feet 8inches set at Istanbul, the capital of Turkey back in 2009.
The Lagos State governor represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Sports, Youth and Social Development, Dr. Abiola Awonuga, expressed appreciation to Guinness for their support of the national team, while commending them also for their innovativeness in producing the Jersey which has successfully put Nigeria yet again on the world map in a positive manner.
“I am very proud that Lagos state has been given the rare honour of hoisting the record-breaking jersey and we especially commend Guinness for taking the initiative to support the Super Eagles and the ever resolute Nigerian fans in the hope of bringing back the cup,” Awonuga said.
Unveiling the jersey, the Marketing and Innovation Director of Guinness Nigeria Plc, Austin Ufomba stated that Guinness is proud to be associated with the success of the event.
“We are extremely glad to be at the centre of this remarkable feat, putting Nigeria on the global map and rallying the support of millions of Nigerian fans for our dear national team. We are passionate about the Super Eagles and our greatest desire is to see them excel at AFCON 2013, that is why we have decided to galvanize the support of millions of Nigerian fans in this most unique way. We believe that with this level of encouragement and support, the team will go a long way” Ufomba explained.
Speaking further, he said, “we know Nigerians share a common passion for the Super Eagles and we believe that creating a platform such as this will help further encourage them to fly the nation’s flag high at the tournament and make all of us proud”.
Also commenting on the initiative of the largest football jersey by Guinness, Head, Marketing Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation, Deji Tinubu said there is no better way to show support for the Super Eagles than rallying round them particularly this time.
“We believe this support for the Super Eagles by their fans this period will spur the team on and encourage them to do more” Tinubu enthused.
Obinna Anyalebechi, Marketing Manager, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, in his own remark, encouraged fans to rally round the Super Eagles by writing their goodwill messages on the largest jersey which is expected to be conveyed to the team.
“We want to encourage all Super Eagles fans and lovers of football to come out en-masse and put their signatures on the jersey. This is history in the making and a rare chance to send personal goodwill messages to the team in South Africa” Anyalebechi enthused.
For over five years, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout has been the lead sponsor of the Super Eagles, recently launching the ‘Fly with the Eagles’ campaign in which consumers have so far won loads of exciting prizes including an all-expense paid trip to South Africa for 200 lucky fans who are currently watching the Super Eagles live in South Africa and hoping to cheer them to victory as the quarter final battles get underway in two days’ time. These consumer engagement platforms have been designed to showcase the intense passion that millions of Nigerians have for the national team.
The concert part of the unveiling, witnessed an avalanche of songs and dance steps as the music acts each did his best to impress the fans might have come and gone but other areas of entertainment and benefits remain for Nigeria to savour. Among this is a theme song exclusively produced for this tournament by Guinness.
Produced by visually-impaired but excellent music producer, the song features parts rendered by sensational artistes like Bez, Waje, Flavour and IllBliss. And it is already on several radio and TV stations in the country, with the longer and original version available and being played at the Guinness stands all over the state and beyond.
Also, the record-setting Jersey was on display from Monday, January 21 till Friday, January 25 at the Main Bowl of the Teslim Balogun stadium. This has availed hundreds of football fans from different areas of Lagos State to turn-out en-masse for the benefit of witnessing the impressive spectacle and also inscribe their goodwill messages on the record-setting Jersey.
Adebayo Ojebanwi, a fan who was present at the unveiling event, was happy as he commended the initiative. “Guinness has always done things differently and in a big way, but they have really outdone themselves with this one and I am so proud to be witnessing this in my lifetime. It’s not every day you find such an innovative idea that projects your country to the world in such a good light and push support for the national team all at once, real kudos to Guinness.”
No matter what happens in the tournament, Nigeria fans who have been part of the experience provided by Guinness would remember the Orange African Cup of Nations in South Africa with fond memories, if for nothing, but for its sheer excitement, music and spectacles.