Millions of fans throughout the country, football has long been recognized as Nigeria’s national sport. A source of great national pride and a symbol of independence and self-determination, the game has a fascinating past that no doubt contributes to its popularity in the country today.
Before going to bet on today’s Premier League match result, why not take the time to find out more about football in Nigeria? The Nigerian Professional Football League offers its own exciting betting opportunities and is very exciting to follow. More than that, it’s founded on a rich, intriguing history stretching back to the beginning of the 20th century.
When Was Football Introduced to Nigeria?
Among many other things, British settlers introduced Nigerians to many new forms of entertainment — including the exciting game of football.
Early records indicate that the very first game of football to take place on Nigerian soil was between the crew of the HMS Thistle, a British warship, and students belonging to the Hope Waddell Training Institution. This game took place in June 1904 and, it is no great exaggeration to say, marked a turning point in the country’s history.
Over the coming decades, football came to stand as a symbol of people’s freedom and equality, utilised by politicians like Nnamdi Azikiwe to bring unity to Nigeria.
The Nigerian National Football Team
Colloquially known as the Super Eagles, the Nigerian National Football Team was founded before the country claimed its independence from Great Britain. The first competition the team took part in after independence was the 1963 Africa Cup of Nations.
Despite their best efforts, however, the team did not qualify for the FIFA World Cup for a further thirty years. In 1994, they qualified, at last, coming close to reaching the quarter-finals. Since then, the team has qualified a further five times, unfortunately not making it to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year.
The Nigerian Professional Football League
As well as having a national football team, Nigeria also has an exciting football league system. It is made up of six interconnecting leagues. In order from the top to the bottom-most league, these are:
The Nigeria Premier League;
The Nigeria National League;
The Nigeria Nationwide League Division One;
The Nigeria Nationwide League Division Two;
The Nigeria Nationwide League Division Three;
Non-League Regional Amateur Leagues.
Clubs struggle for promotions or simply to retain their position in their league. Those who do not succeed are relegated to the league below for the next season. Some of the most popular teams include Enyimba FC, Kano Pillars FC, and Akwa United FC.
The NPFL is very popular in Nigeria, with thousands of football fans throughout the nation turning up to support their favorite clubs and millions more supporting them from the comfort of home. A great number of fans even place bets on their preferred clubs.
Football in Nigeria has a fascinating history, one that is tangled up in the politics and cultural identity of the nation. No doubt, this is part of the reason why football is known as the country’s national sport and is so beloved by its millions of citizens.
But it isn’t only the history of Nigerian football that is interesting. The sport is always increasing in popularity, with many excellent athletes even finding positions in teams around the world. Its national team may not have found a place in the World Cup this year, but football fans in the know would do well to keep an eye on the NPFL going forward.