Feature: Originality of the African game
By Bonaventure Mutale
Could I be the only one who cringes in my seat when I see a “big Team” in African football naming itself after a European Team?
Worse still, they even wear the exact replica jersey of that particular team? In Zambia I once saw Lusaka Dynamos wear the exact yellow replica Jersey of Liverpool and they had their sponsor’s name “Carlsberg” on the shirts.
Mind you this game was live on the World of Champions, Super Sport 9.
When I saw this, I ignored it and I was like yes, Lusaka Dynamos is not such a big team, after at, it is sponsored by an individual and he may not have the financial muscle to buy the best of jerseys.
Just when I thought I had seen the last of such outfits when Lusaka Dynamos was relegated to the second division of the Zambian Super League in 2010, alas!
I saw it this weekend in the Glo-Ghana Premier League and it’s a team called “Arsenals”, they wore the exact jersey Arsenal of the English Premier League wear and to my amazement the jersey was labeled “Fly Emirates”.
The only difference was “the Arsenals” jersey had Ghanaian names on their backs coupled with a very poor playing field. And guess what?
The whole continent was watching this game on Supersport 9!
It just didn’t end there; I noticed a team that impressed me so much in the African Champions League from Ghana called Berechum Chelsea a team I understand whose the club’s name and home kit are inspired by Chelsea F.C of English Premier League is in the same trap!
Why on earth does the team even have to copy the Chelsea FC club logo? Are they not innovative enough to come up with something of their own?
The question I have is, does Arsenal or Chelsea football clubs of the EFL support these clubs financially?
I would even go further to ask if the “Fly Emirates” which is donned by “The Arsenals of Ghana” is known by the Emirates. Would that be a case of free advertising in a business sense?
Do the clubs realize the implication of such outfits?
Do African clubs understand the importance of team branding? Where is their identity?
Imagine “the Arsenals” of Ghana won the African Champions League and on the other hand Arsenal of England won the Champions league in Europe and the two met at the World Club Championship?
The South African case of Ajax (Ajax not Ayax) Cape Town maybe different because I am meant to believe that the team is an extension of the Ajax Amsterdam.
It is therefore understood when they wear the exact replica jersey of the Ajax Amsterdam.
The funny this is that they appear to even maintain the team emblem. In my state of cringe, I ask myself what goes on in the minds of such teams.
They have unique talents, unique players, unique environment and are a force to reckon with on the African continent, yet they opt to be colonized their minds with foreign ideas of wearing replica jerseys of teams in Europe.
Unfortunately it appears some national teams on the African continent are wearing jerseys that don not in any way represent their national colors.
Are our minds really freed as Africans such that despite the inspiration we may get from the European clubs we cannot come up with our own identity?
What is wrong in teams having their own unique identities?
Though the case maybe like this in the teams I have cited there are other teams that have strived hard to brand themselves on the African continent such that you don’t need to look twice at their jersey to know which team they are.
The closest an English Premier League has come to associate with Africa is Sunderland’s jersey which has words “Invest in Africa”.
I will cite teams like El Merriek of Sudan, Orlando Pirates, Asante Kotoko of Ghana, Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa, Zesco United of Zambia as teams that I have seen have seriously branded their teams and you don’t have to look twice at their Jerseys to know who they are.
Even the Africa’s biggest giant TP Mazembe‘s home outfits looks like that of Juventus of Italy.
It is high time teams in African strived to maintain their originality and not copy ideas from European teams.
On a lighter note, I have also noticed that some Zambians suddenly pronouncing ‘Bercelona’ as ‘Bathelona’ just because the Spanish pronounce it that way.
Hello? I will not call them ‘Bathelona’ because to me they are ‘Barcelona’.
Source: Bonaventure Mutale