Copa Lagos: Unearthing the wealth in the sand
Sporting activities anywhere in the world offer more than just the thrill that we derive from games. Sports globally have become a phenomenon to be reckoned with, such that many have used sports to send important messages and also as a veritable platform to foster growth and development of regions – Mandela used Rugby to make a statement against apartheid and most recently, American football quarterback, Collin Kaepernick has started what has now been dubbed the “Bow The Knee” Movement in protest over perceived injustice. Sport is one of the most widely embraced activities across the world – and owing to its overwhelming acceptance, it is being used to achieve multiple goals.
One of Nigeria’s finest ex-internationals, Segun “Mathematical” Odegbami made a very profound statement ‘The Platform’ event recently while speaking on the importance of sports to nation-building. He said, “The World Cup is not about football!”
His statement begs the questions: Why do nations fight over themselves to ensure that they host major sporting tournaments if sports were all there was to such games? Why is the English Premier League being touted as the most entertaining football league in the world?
This is the thinking that drives Kinetic Sports, organizers of COPA Lagos Beach Soccer Tournament. For six years running since 2011, COPA Lagos has evolved from just a beach soccer event to the biggest, celebrated and most sought-after beach soccer tournament on the African continent.
So let’s succinctly examine what we stand to gain from this event.
For most home grown talents, a platform for them to exhibit their talents to the world is one they continuously desire. These young talents have harnessed their skills in places of relative oblivion and far from sports notoriety. Therefore a tournament is a very prolific opportunity for these players because as we have seen over the past few years, many of them have been poached by scouts from all over the world and have gone on to better the fortunes for their community.
Infrastructural development is one of the perks that accompany the hosting of tournaments. All over the world, the entire landscape of the host cities have been revamped and refurbished to ensure that the logistics and aesthetic value of the venue and the surrounding are maximized.
Tourism is a natural fallout of tournaments, tourists flock in their droves to catch the sights and sounds of the host city. This means that there will be a spike in the demand for temporary accommodation, transportation, feeding, security and others.
Beyond just sports, environmental advocacy is another positive impact COPA Lagos has brought. With their yearly ‘Clean the Beach’ exercise – a Corporate Social Responsibility, the organizers of COPA Lagos clean up the beach for the event and also donate cleaning materials to the administrators to ensure that there is a sustained culture of making the beach attractive and hygienic.
The influx of people that attend the event deliver direct economic opportunities for food vendors, hotel owners, security companies just to mention a few. For instance, COPA Lagos accommodates over 150 vendors and so, companies and other corporate brands can advertise and retail their products during the games.
This year, Kinetic Sports has taken talent development to another level. Angelo Schirinzi who is a beach soccer veteran himself and doubles as a FIFA Instructor came to Lagos for the Talent Scout, which saw the discovery of untapped talents from numerous locations in Lagos State – being ably assisted by the National Coach of the Sand Eagles, Adamu Ejo. COPA Lagos will also engage them in a two-week Boot Camp with intensive training by Angelo Schirinzi.
COPA Lagos takes the attention of the world away from the challenges bedeviling us as a country and projects positive energy to the world. The tournament will be broadcast to over 250 million households in Africa through SuperSport. It also makes a strong case for the possibility that a Beach Soccer League in Nigeria can grow to compete with the likes of the English Premier League. A successful event makes a statement of intent that Nigeria has all the trappings to host the Beach Soccer World Cup!
It is instructive for all stakeholders from private and public sectors to support initiatives like COPA Lagos. The benefits of tournaments like the EPL are far reaching for various sectors in the U.K. COPA Lagos currently has a projected economic value of over $3 million; the potential of the COPA Lagos league is almost unimaginable.
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