Local street football in Nigeria has an allure all on its own.
Shorts and Jersey- Dirty looking sneakers or bare foot- determination not to lose are all you need to partake in the round leather game over here in Africa, precisely Nigeria. Nigeria is a country found in the western region of Africa; with over 500 ethnic groups, football is no denying part of the culture of Nigerians. The local street football are staged in, around, cities, villages, towns. LSG is totally different from top flight football. Here, rickety old sandals or stones replace the modern football net.
There are also no football Clubs here; instead, ‘set’ is used, comprising of 3 to 4 players. Refs are also not needed in this game- a timer is used, or a set is defeated when they concede 1-2 goals. 16-year old Fred who is a rabid fan of the game, explained the local street football in Nigeria is also a system of making money. ‘’ Street football is my source of income’’ he told me. ‘’ my mum owns a shop just down the road, and she struggles to make ends meet. So I use my income from street football to feed myself. Though it’s strenuous.’’ Some may wonder what income he’s talking about. Well literally, he means betting. LSG with its trademark across states in Nigeria is also seen as a source of making money to most of its players. But even that path is quite difficult according to fred, as you have to play to the extreme to win money. ‘’ when we play betting, am always under immense pressure cause if you don’t win, you will lose your money, so you have to go and score goals to win ‘’ he noted. Tactically, goals are essential and compulsory in LSG. Infact, less attention is placed on defense. The trio in a ‘set’ are mostly observed trooping forward in search of goal, though, occasionally, one player drops back to safe guard the goal post. But he is also guilty of overlapping and taking long range shots in a bid to score. Skills are also part of the excitement of LSG. Players are immortalized when they dribble all on their own to score, even though it’s frustrating to the other team-mates. Fred who is well noted for his trickery, pace and ardent lover of betting confesses LSG has impacted and taught his more about football, and he hopes to one-day achieve his dream by playing in football’s grand stage. ‘’am just like everybody here who has a dream to play big one day ‘’ he said. ‘’ betting in our street football hasn’t taught me negative things as people would think, it has shown life is all about competition and you have to work tirelessly to earn a penny’’ he concluded.