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Road to Russia: How music inspires Super Eagles during matches

Road to Russia: How music inspires Super Eagles during matches

Music plays a big part in many people’s lives, and members of Super Eagles squad are not an exception over the years.

To most athletes, music is a general form of inspiration that has limitless boundary while others see music as a ritual tool that pushes sportsmen and women above their limit.

During most games, it is a common sight to see Super Eagles’ squad members sing choruses together in their buses when they arrive or leave the stadium for the team’s base.

Most often than not, the players and officials sing and dance to inspiration songs supplied by members of the Nigeria Football Supporters’ Club (NFSC).

What is music?

Attempting a definition, Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, online edition, defines music as "the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity."

On the other hand, World’s most decorated Olympian, Michael Phelps believes music is always available to put you in competition mood.

“I have walked out to race with my headphones on throughout my whole career and listen to music until the last possible moment, It helps me to relax and get into my own little world,” Phelps revealed.

Sadly, in most Nigerian tribes/languages that include Tiv, Yoruba, Igbo, Efik, Birom, Hausa, Idoma, Eggon or Jarawa to mention but a few, there are no term for ‘music’.

However, over the years, music rendered in these dialects alongside Nigerian Pidgin English have played enormous role in inspiring the Eagles’ to give their best during major match situations.

It is difficult to think of a time when Nigeria’s football was on display without music. Often time, the song/lyric rendered simply shares the joy of a victory or the pain of a defeat.

A regular feature during Nigeria matches are NSFC members whose musical prowess during match situations help provide the Eagles’ a unique home comfort irrespective of the match venue.

These Nigerians are usually decked in green-themed embroidered outfits along with hats, wigs and big sunglasses while dancing, singing, playing drums and trumpets, as well as carrying culturally significant objects.

Their performances have also converted music arts to compose various forms of music for the nation team.

A vivid example could be deducted from Dream Team victory at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics – not just because the Jo Bonfere tutored-side won the gold, but because of the legendary music created from the team’s exploits.

During the semis, Nigeria battled almighty Brazil with the likes of Bebeto, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo on parade. The South Americans were leading 3-1 when Victor Ikpeba pulled back a goal, 12 minutes from duration time, to open the way for ‘comeback’.

Nwankwo Kanu’s goal brought Nigeria level to Brazil before the lanky forward added another (Golden Goal) in extra time, to wrap up one of the greatest comebacks in football’s record books. No sooner’s a fan was inspired to create the song: “When Nigeria beat Brazil, when Nigeria beat Brazil O! Bebeto start to cry… When Nigeria beat Brazil”.

Recently, images of Wizkid standing side by side with footballer Alex Iwobi, wearing a customized version of the new Super Eagles kit by Nike, for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, once again made Nigerians see the essence of music and football. Both are tools used to entertain, influence, and inspire the country.

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Also, as a ritual with the Super Eagles and in football in general, new additions to the Nigerian senior team are required to stand before their teammates and perform a song as part of their initiation. They are required to perform their initiation rites and this is where music meets football.

Music stars meet Super Eagles need

Several years down the road, the lyrics ‘When Nigeria beat Brazil’ reminds Nigerians of the golden moment when the country won the Olympic gold at the expense of football giants like Brazil and Argentina still trends among the top songs that inspires the Eagles’ to give their best while believing that with hard work, endurance and perseverance victory is possible.

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At the last count, artist like Tony Muanagor aka Tony One Week’s 'Gyrate' a local synonym for songs about celebration in local palace released in 1996 has risen to be likened as a second national anthem and theme song for the Eagles. Till date, the hit has gained evergreen status.

In addition, Uyammadu Austin Charles aka Austin Milado’s ‘Super Eagles Carry Go’ released in the early 2000s, is another track that followed Tony One Week’s ‘Gyration’ technique to became an instant hit, thus creating a playlist for our football fandom.

Reacting on how music inspired the heroics of the Nigeria national team, ex-Eagles shot-stopper, Peter Rufai insists music played important role during his playing days.

“During my time in the Super Eagles we saw music as a form of inspiration before, during and after matches…

“In fact before leaving for match venues, we sing different songs, mostly popular lyrics and songs of praise to put us in positive mood…

“And during the games, we are always listening to hear the mood of the fans which they usually communicate through songs.

“For example, when we hear they sing, ‘all we are saying, give us more goals’. It simply means that we need to up our game and score goals,” Rufai noted, even as he was quick to add that ‘on the other hand, when the goals start coming, you may start hearing other songs like, “He’s a miracle working God…., he’s a miracle working God…he’s the Alfa and Omega, he’s a miracle working God…

“Indeed, the varieties of music coming from the fans’ s go a long way to tell the players if they’re doing well or not,” concluded Rufai, who was fondly known as Dodomanyana in his hey days.

The highpoint of how music inspires Eagles saw the coming together of the team’s major sponsor’s music ambassadors MI, Flavour, Omawumi, Waje, Wande Coal, Naeto C, Chee the Voice and Ego to produce three theme songs aimed at drumming support for the team’s success in the 2014 World Cup.

At the end, Power to Win, was powerfully delivered by the duo of Flavour and MI; Raise Your Voice, anchored by the Glo All Stars, as well as a medley of popular NFSC chants.

The refrain; No lele, No yawa in the Raise Your Voice song means “no worries” is resonating with Nigerian fans who love the re-assuring words in the song. The lyrics charge fans amongst others, to raise their voices and defend our name. No dulling Naija!.

Furthermore, NFSC chant is a medley of folkloric and religious songs in the three major Nigerian languages of Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba. The Yoruba songs tagged; Baba ti bawa se and Sa ma sinwalo, expressed hope that God would see the Super Eagles through the World Cup campaign.

Similarly, the Igbo chorus, Otitikpokpotikpo, an Igbo exhortative chant and Onye n’eme nma together exalts the goodness of the almighty God.

Interestingly, with less than 40 days to the commencement of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, the NFSC eggheads remain committed in the belief that Nigerian music will again be on display to inspire Eagles at the Mundial.

Speaking with sports journalists recently on the forthcoming global football fiesta, National Chairman, Samuel Ikpea said preparation are in top gear to ensure a significant representation of the nation through its members in the soccer fiesta come June.

“As a body, ambassadors and official supporters club of the nation, we are mindful of the image of our great country Nigeria and making sure that we portray good impression.

“…our members are working hard to collaborate with our sponsors so that we will storm Russia in our great number to cheer our Super Eagles,’’ added the former national secretary of NFSC.

Indeed, the overall importance of music as a form on inspiration remains to create the belief in the Nigerian national team that with hard work and dedication.

Hopefully, with the backing of over 170 million passionate Nigerian fans worldwide, the Super Eagles can go all the way in Russia.

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