HiFL 2019: Collegiate Football Returns Bigger And Better

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By Tunji Faleye

Introduction

The Nigerian sports industry will once again witness the 2019 edition of Higher Institutions Football League (HiFL®), an innovative collegiate football league organized by PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing in partnership with Nigeria University Games Association (NUGA). This season promises to be more exciting considering the energy the organisers have put into it.

Disclosing the readiness of the organisers, Director, PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing, Mr. Sola Fijabi said recently in Lagos that all is now set for a bigger, better and more exciting 2019 HiFL® season, building on the successes recorded in the maiden edition in 2018.

According to him, “The 2019 season promises so much excitement. We are accommodating more schools and expanding engagements across board. We have concluded plans to take the Nigerian team made up of the best players from the 2018 season to Naples, Italy for the World University Games (FISU). We are proud of the role the league is playing in enhancing youth development in Nigeria. Already, two of the outstanding talents from the 2018 season are on the books of professional football teams in Nigeria. We thank Stanbic IBTC and PZ Cussons for their support of this noble initiative, while we look forward to other sponsors. Our objective is to place collegiate sports in Nigeria on the same pedestal as their counterparts in other countries and build a strong ecosystem of young, home-grown football talents that may become invaluable for future national engagement”

This disclosure by Fijabi has been described by experts as a necessary impetus needed by brands and organizations to buy into the HiFL® and also make their impact known in alleviating poverty and contributing to the development of grassroots sports in Nigeria.

Essentially, it is believed that HiFL® which is the first organised private sector-led collegiate football league in the country will create immense opportunity for various brands as the biggest platform for optimal visibility with increase in market shares across many higher institutions in the country. Interestingly, what will make the league spectacular is the live coverage broadcast partners like Super Sports and other broadcast media will render to showcase abundant talents, exhibiting acrobatic and football artistry in the nation’s Universities.

No doubt, the coverage will also create marketing strategy for brands and other organisations that will partner with the organisers to showcase their offering across the University campuses in the country.

Over the years, empirical evidences have shown that sponsorship is everything in football and brands are in a pole position to grab this opportunity by collaborating with HiFL® because brands are critical to creating business value, and the sports business is no exception. Strong brands command customer loyalty and premium prices, constituting valuable assets that drive company’s revenue and growth. They are central to many sports business transactions, especially sponsorship deals and product merchandising. In addition, at the heart of branding lies trademarks.

It will be recalled that, after several years of lull in the collegiate sports in the country, PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing in partnership with Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA) set the ball rolling with the qualifiers among Nigerian Universities in July 2018. Though the maiden edition took off with both private and government Universities only, the organisers are working on 32 teams modality for the 2019 edition.

In the last edition of HiFL® Games, matches were held from July 28, 2018, to October 27, 2018 with universities, zoned into the Atlantic Conference (South) and the Savannah Conference (North) for reasons of proximity and effective administration.

The breakdown of the HiFL® shows that there was a total of 30 games in 14 weeks after a set of qualifying rounds among 79 universities. 16 universities played intra-conference return legs elimination matches with 8 teams from the Atlantic (South) and another 8 teams in Savannah (North) while matches of the four-team league were played in Lagos.

The climax of the HiFL® last year was the final match which was held as scheduled on Saturday November 3rd 2018 at Agege Stadium in Lagos between University of Calabar and University of Agriculture Markurdi

At the end of the match, highflying University of Agriculture, Makurdi (Tillers) defeated University of Calabar (Malabites) by 5-4 penalty shootout to win the maiden Higher Institutions Football League (HIFL).

The exciting game ended goalless at full time and the winner had to emerge through the penalty shootouts where UAM emerged victorious after the pulsating five kicks each.

Before the final match, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) defeated the University of Ilorin Warriors 3-1 to win the third place match.

Agencies Behind HiFL®

Like the 2018 edition, quite a number of A-list agencies are also working towards the success of 2019 edition of HiFL®. Through the efforts of these various agencies HiFL® has become a toast of football enthusiasts who have accepted and followed it with great passion. Like these agencies, football lovers all over the country see HiFL® as a baby that must be supported and grow to put the nation’s collegiate games on the global map.

PACE Sports

As Nigeria’s leading passion-based marketing company, PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing came to the fore by spearheading the HiFL® 2018 season as owners and organizers. The agency largely achieved this notable feat by envisioning, insights, strategic partnerships and adoption of global best practices which enabled different agencies to buy into the lofty idea.

Clearly, from all indications, PACE is proving not to rest on its oars as it is working day in day out to record more successes than the achievements of the first edition.  Due to its efforts and never-say-die spirit to bring collegiate football to an enviable position, many football lovers have been giving kudos to PACE, describing it as a game changer whose name has been written in gold in terms of what it did to the development of football in Nigerian Universities and the country as a whole.

For the 2019 HiFL® season, the second edition, PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing is putting in more energy and building on the successes recorded in the previous League season. The agency is also perfecting strategies to engage more brands to scale activities and deliver mutual value at the grassroots and also to brand bottom-lines.

Also worthy of note is that, prior to the maiden edition, the firm put in over two years of planning and strategy to stage a befitting football league for Universities in Nigeria. No wonder, this can-do spirit exhibited by the firm is attracting more clients to its family and it is also fast becoming a leading sports and entertainment marketing company with a knack for connecting brands with the passions of their audiences. The firm believes that passion puts everything and everyone a step ahead with precision and speed which is why, at PACE, they only leads projects that they,  their clients and their audiences are passionate about.

Despite being in its second year, HiFL® has remained a reference point in Nigerian football, kudos to PACE which has taken it upon itself to stage the annual football competition designed for higher institutions in Nigeria particularly Universities to showcase campus football talents. Through this effort also, the league is being described as one of the most extensive in coverage and reach in the history of collegiate competitions on the continent.

Beyond any reasonable doubt, the agency recognizes that passion-based marketing remains the most effective tool to reach, engage and convert, which the firm is using to position HiFL®. Also beyond ideation, the company spots and spurs trends that inform its clients’ marketing strategies across sports and entertainment. The scope of services also includes Research & Insights, Sponsorship Portfolio Analysis and Management, Rights Management, Communication, Hospitality, Merchandising and Distribution.

Through the efforts of PACE, the 2019 edition of HiFL® continues to be a game changer in collegiate sports with its versatile game-changing team of cross-industry professionals with expertise and relationships across sports, influencers, powerful media, movie studios, TV networks and corporate power brokers will help to create big ideas and execute effective engagement strategies for the league.

With international partnerships and recognitions, and plans underway to introduce sporting competitions in Basketball, Volleyball and Athletics, PACE remains committed to optimizing viable opportunities in sports and entertainment for the good of the young and the brands that are keen on engaging them.

With the agency’s understanding of speed and momentum, it will enable it to empower HiFL® in the quest for effective reach for sponsorship, engagement and conversion; and like all-star performers in sports and entertainment, its drive in building on consistent and strong performances to deliver world class collegiate leagues is next to none.

Brooks+Blake

One of the agencies that contributed immensely to the success of HiFL® is Brooks + Blake, a firm that is committed to positioning perception management across Africa.

The story of HiFL® will not be complete without the mention of Brooks + Blake (B+B), an independent perception management and consulting firm that has contributed enormously to the growth of the industry in West Africa and Africa at large. The company came on board in the last edition and was saddled with the responsibility to handle the perception and PR consultancy for Nigeria’s first collegiate football league, HiFL®.

This year also, Brooks+Blake will also drive perception and PR consultancy service for the 2019 HiFL®. As an expert in this business, the agency is believed to be in best position to handle this year’s perception and PR services for the 2019 collegiate football.

Like its contributions to the success of HiFL®, Brooks+Blake is passionately committed to positioning all other clients as leaders in their areas of specialty as well as enhancing the visibility and profitability of clients’ businesses.

Interestingly at B+B, the core value is to carve a niche by constantly sustaining the premise that the firm can be better without necessarily comparing it with other public relations firm.  However, while it is important to take note of what competitors are doing, the agency is more tuned to being better than the last time it had a project or a brief. That is one of the characteristics that PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing has seen in the firm to retain it in projecting the image of HiFL® positively.

Apart from what B+B is doing to promote HiFL®, generally, the agency’s vision is to be a leading marketing communication consulting firm with a reputation for driving exceptional and transformational client results across African markets.

This is in line with its mission to provide the best marketing solutions and experiences with a measurable impact on its clients businesses, using relevant technology and its people while adopting world’s best-proven practices.

Brooks + Blake will consults for HiFL® by carrying out analytical research using cutting edge research tools and auditing methodologies, in line with international best practices, to achieve more robust insights and unlock business growth for it.

It will be recalled that, through sheer commitment and tireless dedication, the firm has continued to record success upon success.  This is based on core principles of hard work, professionalism and partnership. Based on experience, the agency will also take time to understand HiFL® issues and challenges, design customized communication plans and executes with precision.

Brooks + Blake hopes to continue expanding its services to other markets in the near future beyond its existing hubs in West and Central Africa in order to achieve cross-cultural integration while creating an opportunity for exchange of business ideas. The company hopes to continue to grow its people and processes in the hope that the agency will become a point of reference and gain top-of-the-mind awareness among brands in search of perception management services in Nigeria and beyond.

IBST Media

Similarly, IBST Media was the technical partner (Production) to the first edition of HiFL®, and the impact of the Nigeria’s leading media group was massive as the organization put in a touch of excellence and professionalism.

IBST which was founded on an unshakable foundation of marketing acumen, vision, cinematic creativity, storytelling and technology is still in a pole position this year to further contribute meaningfully to the second edition of HiFL®. This means, IBST Media will provide a bespoke service back up with creativity.

With its over 15 years of experience, IBST Media has been putting Nigeria on the global map as one of the countries recognized for its quality video production and contents, and the organization is ready to deploy all these technical know-hows into the coverage of HiFL®. It is certain that as time passes with technology advancement, video production has improved from the era of big facilities to smaller devices; same evolution has occurred in the life of the company according to the management, it has evolved with time and continues to remain relevant.

From the north, east, west and south, IBST Media ranks above other competitors, hence, its continuation to handle one of the most important aspect of HiFL®.

With its last year’s work with HiFL®, this year, IBST Media will bring in new innovation of making each and every production tailor-made for  HiFL®, expressing the message with crystal clarity, and packaged in an aesthetic that satisfies the unique sensibilities.

IBST is a team-centered organization, where it engages with each other and its clients to get the best ideas. It is these ideas, concepts and innovation, which form it approach to the project that is remarkably synergistic. This team-centered approach means that they are intensely focused on collaborative relationships, and working together towards the same goals.

At IBST Media, clients are part of the team and are not just new members of the greater team; but part of a club that believes in winning and delivering great products, and working with these “team members” greatly produces content and videos that will service their specific goals.

In addition to these hardworking, highly skilled and professional crews, from Producers, Directors, DOP’s, Art Directors, Camera Operators, Production Managers, and other technicians and artisans, IBST has a veritable pool of technical resources  that will help make HiFL® this year an eventful edition.

Noteworthy is the availability of diverse range of cameras and accessories to meet any type of production raging from Arri, Sony, Canon and Black Magic HD, 2k, and 4k Cameras.   This is also supported by an extensive range of Lighting equipment, grip and accessories from HMI’s, Kinoflos, Tungsten and specialty lighting for any type of production.  There are also two UK trained Drone Pilots who are able to fly any DJI Drone such as the Inspire or Phantom, which invariably the company possesses.

Tribes Marketing

Interestingly, Tribes Marketing, a fully-fledged experiential and marketing communication firm; peopled by highly creative minds and individuals from a broad section of learning backgrounds, who are focused on delivering uncommon value and exceptional results in the marketing communications industry was also part of successes the organizer recorded in the inaugural Higher Institutions Football League organized for the University students across the country.

Right from the beginning to the end of the league, the experiential agency put in its fresh perspectives and impetus to deliver compelling ideas, assets, solutions for HiFL®.

Some of the agency’s credentials in projecting many of its brands positively have also qualified it again to be sign on by the organizer of HiFL® to continue from where it stopped last year.

Apart from its contributions to the success of HiFL®, the experiential marketing agency leverages a cross- pollination of technology, instincts, talents and global bench marks to carry out any of its assignments.

Tribes Marketing is a client and brand focused full-fledged marketing communication concern (concern) driven by the desire to do more than the ordinary to achieve new levels of result experiences.

The agency’s service footprint and offering include, Ideation and concept development, strategy, experiential solutions and execution, activations, distribution and Research. It was not a surprise therefore that 2018 HiFL® was the best organized collegiate game in the country in recent years.

Tribes Marketing prides itself in providing innovative marketing solution. According to the agency’s mission statement, Tribes marketing is focused on becoming the experiential solutions clearing house for clients and businesses with the desire and passion for achieving exceptional results and impact.

Essentially, the agency holds firmly to the belief that creativity is distinct and uncompromising and is spurred by a willingness to do more than the ordinary in the quest for excellence.

Tribes Marketing, a fast growing below-the-line (BTL) advertising agency, is a one-stop-shop that has proven competence in bridging the gap between consumers and brands. The agency delivers compelling values beyond the ordinary for brand and clients

Among its core values are professionalism, innovation, cooperation/partnership and integrity which have positioned it in a vantage position as the go-to agency for brand building activities such as sales promotion, digital and field marketing, in-stores and marketing research as well as property development and event marketing, to positively project the image of brands to consumers.

Clearly, a major attribute that has been working in favour of the agency is that Tribes Marketing leverages the power of deep/compelling insights driven by the understanding of the order and direction of things and the opportunity to craft a new and refreshing paradigm.

Interestingly, these innovations have helped the agency a lot in the area of winning quite a number of clients in its few years of operation. For instance, through dint of hard work and dedication, the agency has attracted clients who have confidence in the workability of its creative ideas and its excellent delivery. Few of the clients the company has worked for, FrieslandCampina, Pecadomo, Kewalram, PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing (PSEM), Ekopolitan, Lagos State Government (LASG), Firestone, Bridgestone

It is also worthy of note that more and more brands have continued to recognise the efficacy of innovative ideas of Tribes Marketing, and this will go a long way to further project the image of the agency positively to brands within and outside of the country.

Being a digital marketing and communications agency based in Lagos but serving a global audience, Radartrail projected HiFL® with arrow piercing digital communication and online media buying strategies by playing a key role in fronting the communication mandate of the game with accurate data.

Like the fantastic job the agency did to create awareness for HiFL®, RadarTrail has the capacity to connect audience across multiple touch points by leveraging on data, strategy, content, media and technology to position the brand appropriately.

The agency pride itself in the ability to deliver a bespoke solution no matter the brief, with its ‘out of the box’ digital competence to help brand develops a winning strategy that maximizes its effectiveness. The agency also minimizes the time and money required to achieve goals by using unrivalled state of the art technology. Radartrail also delivers ‘Growth and Perception led ‘Brand Management and ORM.

The agency also boasts of footprint and third-party fans that provide a two-way communication channel for the brand and its customers while serving as a vehicle for positioning as the champion of its niche.

Radartrail provides ‘Performance driven’ Digital Marketing. That means, whether the brand is looking for more visibility, site traffic, leads, sales, followership, engagements or email open rates, the keyword for the agency is quality and more.

In its few years of operation in the Nigerian market, Radartrail has performed beyond industry expectation with its heart catching asset design and development.

The agency is proud to be a digital marketing solution partner to client in all sector of the economy as it consistently reveal the unseen and untapped goldmine in footprints and social conversations of the brand and competition which can be used for research, product design or for the next campaign.

All these are as a result of the agency’s core value which include Partnership, Innovation and  Experience.

As a result of it expertise and excellent delivery, Radartrail has attracted many clients to its family. Top among them include, Cadbury, Mtn, EiE, HiFL, Unilever, Tek Experts, Tumbletots, GSK, Guinness, Wow wallpaper.

Rocketshop

Like other agencies, Rocketshop also added it expertise to the success of the first edition of HiFL®game in 2018. As a value creation laboratory, the agency employed the use of technology and innovation to project HiFL® positively.

Through its contribution to the success of the game, Rocketshop announced itself as a value creation laboratory where solutions people who are tired of the substandard offerings of the marketing/communication industry gather to create value using technology and innovation as tools.

Essentially, to achieve the laudable feat, Rocketshop harnessed its latent potentials of innovative minds to create mutual value for the game.

Right from the time the agency opened shop, its mission has being to harnessing the power of innovation, technology and deep human insight to unearth unconventional but effective marketing and communication solutions. The agency has not deviated from its mission and the agency has been relentlessly harnessing the power of imagination to challenge the status quo and find value in unexpected places in order to become a solution seeker.

At Rocketshop, the product offering include Marketing and innovative strategy, Branding and Designs, Communication. The agency is also known for it uses of unconventional solutions for the unconventional value seeker.

Knowing-full well that today’s marketing communication is driven by media, the agency has positioned itself above its competitors in the industry by harnessing consumers and technology to drive the marketing/communication solutions in its offering.

As a marketing innovation agency offering marketing and communication solutions to clients and consumers, the agency’s core brand attribute of Innovation, Integrity, Grit and Intelligence has been playing a great role in positioning it as a go to agency in the industry.

Some of the clients that are already in the current portfolio of the agency are Iphone Nigeria, Cadbury, GZ Nigeria, #Naturalsupplies.

Conclusion

It is instructive to say that the contributions of all these agencies to the success of the first edition of collegiate league called HiFL® cannot be overemphasized as they put all their human and material resources, back up with global best practices to stage a standard league for numerous talents abounds in the Nigerian Universities. Remarkably, as 2019 HiFL® gathers momentum many of these agencies with different backgrounds and competences have in their DNA ability to position the second edition of the collegiate football among the best around the world. 00000000ffffff

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