Wieber Boer, a sports enthusiast and chief executive officer, All On, has chronicled the history of Nigerian football as a tool for nation-building in his new book.
The book titled “A Story of Heroes and Epics: The History of Football in Nigeria”, was launched at Freedom Park, Lagos, on Sunday.
The timing of the launch coincided with the upcoming 2018 FIFA world cup.
The History of Football in Nigeria spins a narrative on the various facets of Nigerian football, identifying the significance of people, places and events to the growth of the sport from its inception in 1904 till today.
Some of the “heroes” Boer celebrated in the book include Frederick ‘Baron’ Mulford, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Etim Henshaw, and Titus Okere.
Others are Teslim Balogun, John Dankaro and the members of the first Nigerian national team who toured in England in 1949.
Speaking on the inspiration behind the book, Boer said: “This book was written because of my love for Nigeria and for Nigerian football due to the power of the game to unite Nigerians. However, we must build on this and create other arenas where we find common ground for our unity.”
Donald Duke, former governor of Cross River state who wrote the foreword, said: “This book is not just a history of football. It is an important history of Nigeria as a whole and everyone should read it.”
Amaju Pinnick, president, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) said: “We consider this excellent book part of the official archive of Nigeria’s football history. We will share this with all our state level FA’s so that they too can know where it all started.”
Shehu Dikko, vice president, NFF, said: “The story of the importance of football to our history and our unity that this book traces is still the same today. Last year, a match between El Kanemi Warriors and Kano Pillars in Maiduguri attracted 50,000 fans inside and outside the stadium in spite of the insurgency and the reality that few of the players were from Kano or Bornu. Nothing but football can bring people together like this in Nigeria.”