Good morning and welcome to Friday. It took me a little bit of time today to get going, had some things to take care of very early but its all fine now. Vandrezzer FC is a year old today…that’s right, the gargantuan club is celebrating her one-year anniversary and it is a bit of a surprise that a club of that status has only been in existence for just a year, I guess it speaks volume of the state of football clubs in Nigeria.
I am not being critical of other clubs, but I mean, when you look at what Vandrezzer FC have been able to achieve, it is just so impressive. In January, while still writing for First Reports Online, I did a story on Vandrezzer FC, the feedback I got was… “what the hell is Vandrezzer FC? Who are they, where are they playing and since when have they been in existence?” fast forward to this day, September 11, which the club was established in 2019, everyone in Nigeria knows who they are.
The management of the club knew exactly what they wanted before embarking on the journey to begin putting things in place. Last year, during the opening ceremony of Joe Udofia Unity Cup in Use Abat, a village in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, where the proprietor and Vandrezzer FC originates from, former Nigeria and Arsenal sensation, Kanu Nwankwo was in attendance and I happened to be one of those in the commentary duties. To cut the long story short, I had the opportunity to be a guest in Joe Udofia’s family house where he hosted his dignitaries, there was an English Premier League match live involving Chelsea and whoever that was, Mr Udofia was discussing with Kanu and others on the state of football in Nigeria and he said that the kind of football structure found in England can be replicated here in Nigeria.
Unless you are a more optimistic person than myself, you would say it is not realistic. He did not invite any politician to the event, no government official was in attendance that he invited and the event was very successful. That competition has given platforms to young footballers in the area. He also spoke of building a stadium in his Use Abat village, and to surprise you all, that project is gathering momentum.
The Joe Udofia Unity Cup gave birth to what we come to know as Vandrezzer Football Club today. No body gave him a chance, the entire idea of having a successful football club revolves around government, without being a politician, people believe its not possible to achieve things in this mad country of ours. But here we are, a gigantic football club that will grow even bigger when you read this blog again next year.
What has Vandrezzer FC done differently since its inception? The club played only three matches in the Nigeria National League prior to the suspension and subsequent cancellation of the league in the country. With that, one would say the sample size is too small to judge the football club and what they are capable of, but they lost only one of those three matches, winning two. That’s not bad for a new club. Since the club has not been playing which is what they were established for, their off-field activities are up there with the best in Africa.
Football has gone beyond playing on the pitch, the ability of a football club to attract investors to invest in your team is seen as a success. Standing out above the rest in what you can do as a football club is important. Just take a look at the club’s jersey, up there with the very best. When your shirt is as good as what Vandrezzer FC has produced, then it makes marketing very easy and attractive. I bought the home shirt and presented it to someone as a token, because of how good that jersey was, I went home with N50k, not that I asked or expected it.
That is class. Their merchant shop in Lagos is one of the best in Africa and the only one in Nigeria (I stand to be corrected). A functional media department which has successfully engaged fans and attract new ones to the club. The club house is top-notch, they have completely revamped Ikot Ekpene Township Stadium and brought in world-class training facilities. They have a Brazilian coach in Rafael Everton who is known for an attractive brand of football with the aim to make his mark in Nigerian football.
Vandrezzer have done enough to earn their place in the top 50 of the most followed football club in Africa, the only club in Nigeria to have achieve that feat recently. That is a recognition that should be given to clubs who has been in existence for more than 20 years.
They have what to celebrate in their one year of existence. But the big question still remains: can they translate this off-field success when football finally returns in Nigeria? How can they get returns on investment in a league that is not profitable? Can the management sustain the momentum and keep the club running while improving on what they have achieved so far? Will they play in the top-flight in the season after the one coming, which is their primary objective?
They are lots of things to consider and I understand why people are skeptical about what they can do in three to five years’ time. But all in all, they have given Nigerian football a new look and have provided other clubs with the template follow.
Congratulations Vandrezzer FC and Happy 1st Anniversary from all of at The Athletic NG. In just one year, you have achieved the impossible.
Right! Time for a podcast. I wrote on Wednesday that we might be recording a podcast today, that will still take place and will be available later this evening depending on how the recording goes. I’ll be joined by Mmenyeneabasi Akpan, together we will speak to some journalist on what they think of Vandrezzer FC in just after one year.
We will also have Vandrezzer FC jerseys up for grabs and other items like mugs, fez cap and other merchandise. All you have to do is come back to the site later for the podcast, download and listen and we will tell you how to win your prize.
Till then, have a good weekend.
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