The Bet9jaSociaLiga is back with the play-offs. What is Bet9ja SociaLiga? Our reporter Izu Akawor was present on match day 7 last month, and had a chat with managing director, Engr Opeyemi Tokoya, who gave an insight into what SociaLiga franchise is about.
“SociaLiga is basically a lifestyle,” Tokoya, a Systems Engineer from the University of Lagos, said. “[But] football is our foundation.”
SociaLiga started two years ago, December 19 to be precise, with a friendly match. However, this platform for young Nigerians who wish to further satisfy their interest and passion in football, has since grown to incorporate not just a regular league season, but other side attractions like Socialympics, Waves and the Foundation cup.
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For the football league, Mr Tokoya says it’s now in its second season.
“This is our season two of the football league,” he said. “We have ten male and four female teams.”
He, however, revealed that they didn’t do Socialympics, an event for the fans, which is mirrored like an Olympics, and the Foundation Cup, a series of matches used to raise funds for the body’s Foundation, this season.
The Bet9jaSociaLiga Football League is divided into two conferences- Mainland and Island, with both having five male teams each.
For the female league, there are just four teams competing, making it a total of 14 teams in what has been a success story so far.
On the said match day 7, the featured game was between Citizens and All Blacks, with the latter emerging 3-1 victors.
In what was an impressive first half of football, All Blacks raced into a 3-0 lead, courtesy of goals from Uba Azinge, Bimbo Pedro and Jegan Davies-Jones.
For Citizens, whose journey in the league this season has come to an end, Ajibike Adedoyin, their enigmatic captain, grabbed what turned out a consolation goal for his side in an improved second half showing for the men in light blue.
Come November 18, three teams from each conference will be going head-to-head in the play-offs, as they attempt to book a place in December 16 super final tagged SociaLigaXmasFestival.
So, given the presence of some big companies like Bet9ja, the title sponsors, and Pepsi, Mr Tokoya, how much does each team take home at the end of the season.
“Nothing o!” He replied, while laughing. “Just a trophy,” he added.
Not satisfied with the answer, probed further to know if there are indeed plans to reward the teams involved in subsequent seasons, and the answer this time was affirmative.
“Yes, from next season,” Tokoya said with a smile.
SociaLiga isn’t just about individuals getting the opportunity to work as coaches and players, or even as event planners amongst other things. But it is a platform that has created a fan-centered atmosphere that goes beyond football.
Consequently, apart from helping to change how young minds see participatory sports, to encourage them to own concepts, while creating things that can impact lives, SociaLiga wants and aims to “become a lifestyle where there’s something for everyone” and ultimately, “where people can meet up, network and have fun” the Managing Director said.