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Football Religion

Football Religion

I have spoken on other pages of PaulKavanagh.com about religion, for me it is not something I am a great fan of. I have also mentioned that for me if I was to have a religion it would be The Arsenal, my church would be Highbury, and god is always Dennis Bergkamp. Yes I know it is a sin to say such things!

In Nigeria, religion is everywhere, it is in every single element of life here. You cannot get through your day without having it trust upon you, or seeing it or hearing it. Religion is  Naija life. However there is something else that is a part of Nigerian culture that rivals religion in the space and time of a Nigerians life, and that is Football. And in the main it is the EPL (English Premier League).

They love the EPL more than any other brand of the beautiful game. They know about the Spanish league and the Italian, and yes they will watch the Champions league, they will also watch of course the Super Eagles and are looking forward to the World Cup in SA, but, for most Naija it is the EPL and that it is.

I am not an historian, but I think the main supported teams clearly show when this obsession must have started. This is definitely a Brand EPL thing, as opposed to an English thing. Chelsea, Manure and The Arsenal are the 3 best supported teams, clearly and by some considerable distance from the rest. So far in Nigeria I have seen maybe 3 Liverpool shirts, 1 Spurs, 1 West Ham, and no one else, except heaps of the big 3. Yes I am bias, but for me I do think my Arsenal is number 1 in the fan stakes, then Manure, then Chelsea.

In football timing is everything, and I think as Arsenal were at the top and had a Nigerian Superstar in Kanu playing for them, that may be what has put them out front a while back, Chelsea’s more recent rise, plus their own Naija has boosted them, and the Manure just because they are who they are.  

Of course there is one massive advantage to the local obsession with football, the EPL is everywhere and of course that includes the TV. I have been able to follow this season and if I wanted to I could watch football for hours and hours everyday. There is two main sport TV channels and they both cover it extensively. I have sat and watched every Arsenal game played since I arrived and that for me has been an experience. I have had to sit and watch it with fans of different teams, and that has been hard, very hard. Watching the Arsenal play Manure with fans of that team is nigh on impossible. I just wanted to deck someone, it was nasty experience and not one I will do again, regardless.

But thank goodness that when I choose to come and live here that my own religion, the beautiful game was something shared by those living and working around me. This is one element of life on Obudu Mountain that has worked out well for me.


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