Written by Ere-ebi AGEDAH

2018 World Cup: ‘Viewing centres make the difference’

It was former Super Eagle’s player and skipper, JJ Okocha, who said that as a football fan, being at the world cup is the ultimate experience. To Okocha, and other sports enthusiasts, watching games live on at the stadia or even on television gives an electrifying feel that only football can generate.

To most enthusiasts, football is the only game with a global language. It unifies people of different race, culture or religion, which is victory for their team. Football players have over time, brought in different character and charisma to the game and this has caused the viewing patronage to rise astronomically over the years.

The world cup is here once again and viewers all over the country have been giving their opinions and review on the different teams in the competition and the games played so far.

METRO gathered that before the commencement of the 2018 world cup in Russia, most pay TV subscribers had ensure that their subscriptions were renewed to avoid any form of interruption during the Mundial. Some residents of the Federal Capital Territory even went further to service their generators so as to ensure uninterrupted power supply at all 64 games.

The situation is no different with owners of viewing centres in Abuja who have provided side attractions like beatifying their environment, allow for additional businesses (like sales of drinks and other refreshments) spring up  around their business centres, all geared towards a providing pleasurable viewing experience for their customers.

Our correspondent also observed that new viewing centres have also sprang up in areas where such business were rear. For instance, two new viewing centres started business around the mango tree area at Arab road, Kubwa. Big business owners, especially at the city centre, like the Life Mate Furniture have installed outdoor screens, as some form of corporate social responsibility to Abuja residents. These screens do not just beautify the environments especially at nights, but also afford opportunities to football lovers to watch the games for free.

The World Cup craze seem to be stronger in the neighbouring Kogi state where the state governor, Yahaya Bello, provided 25 free viewing centres in his support for the Super Eagles. The news of the free viewing centres has however exposed the governor to further criticisms, as most Nigerians questioned the governor’s priorities seeing that he still owes backlog of salaries.

Running a viewing centre in Abuja seems to be more lucrative during the period of the World Cup and major football season. This is because viewers troop into these places whenever there is a game to be played.

Usually the influx is higher when it is their favourite teams playing or the Super Eagles. One of the key factors that have increased patronage of football over the years is the betting trend which is the activity of predicting sports results and placing a wager on the outcome.

Sports betters place their wagers either legally, through a bookmaker/sportsbook, or illegally through privately run enterprises referred to as "bookies" or “bet shop”. Some of them get to win while a lot of them get to loose however, as betting is concerned, you either stand the chance to win money you did not work for or loose it all in one or more games. The former is a factor that motivates a lot of football lovers to continue watching the game.

METRO spoke with Kingsley, an unapologetic Super Eagles fan who lamented about the first game against Croatia.

According to Kingsley, watching football at the viewing center adds more fun to the game.

“I have a DSTV decoder at home, but more often than not, I watch football matches at the viewing center, reasons being that at the viewing center, I have the opportunity to hear other people’s opinion and give mine. Beside the energy released in that atmosphere gives an interesting feeling.

“Also I would rather be at the viewing center so that I don’t get to inconvenience my wife when she has a show to watch on TV. I therefore decide to take advantage of an alternative solution which happens to be an atmosphere I like to be in when watching the game.

“There is also the issue of power which is not regular. So to avoid the cases like this I tend to step out of the house for the next few hours to enjoy a game or two.”

On his part, Dami who runs a viewing center along Arab Road Kubwa expressed much delight about the World Cup competition stating that in the last one week, patronage to his business has increased.

According to him, the place has become a beehive of activities because people are always present which has placed a demand for additional hands.

“Since the World Cup commenced, I had to employ two extra hands. I also employed security personnel to ensure safety within the vicinity. It is quite an interesting season that even the rains have not hindered the boys from coming to watch football. Let me just say business is bubbling and I am taking full advantage of this opportunity.

“I know as time proceeds, the games per day are going to get fewer which will reduce the number of sessions, but at the moment I would have to take full advantage of the early stages and give my customers great service.”

In all, there are a lot of activities attached to the world of soccer that makes it intriguing and exciting. It is like a drama series that predicting the outcome gives a great satisfaction because the result usually has an effect on the crowd and it remains unpredictable.














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