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Thursday, January 6, 2022

How art and sports met as Nike, NFF release national team jersey

One of Western philosophy’s founding fathers, Plato around 380BC theorized that a work of art is ultimately an imitation of reality which is an imperfect imitation of a perfect ideal.

This thought of line was picked up by former Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger who said “Football is an art like dancing is an art – but only when it’s well done does it become an art.”

In typical arts, creativity is key ably assisted by some basic amenities for the work of art to come into fruition. And it is the same for football where all that is needed are the playing field, the ball itself, the jersey and boots to make the game a complete art and a sporting masterpiece through the individuals.

Across the globe, there are unique clothing materials peculiar to every culture setting as they identify and differentiate the wearers which have also translated to the sports jerseys and in this case, football.

Football jerseys are designed to differentiate teams on the pitch and over the years as football developed, so also the jerseys which all teams (clubs and nations) invested in heavily and again in this case, the Nigeria National teams controlled by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

The NFF shook the world when it unveiled its jersey ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup which was voted as the snazziest going to the World Cup. The Nigerian jersey, in a Sky Sports poll, got 21,200 votes to come in first.

The kit sold out just minutes after its official release on June 1, as hundreds of fans reportedly queued outside London’s Nike Town store on Oxford Street.

According to Nike, the company that designed that particular jersey explained that the concept of the jersey was gotten from the 1994 World Cup jersey the Nigeria team adorned in the USA.

Nike’s design directors researched and found common upbeat energy and attitude about the country and amongst players known as Naija. Naija bleeds Nigerian culture from sport to music and fashion.

“With a culture as vibrant as Nigeria’s, the collection had a lot to live up to. The central design theme is an abstract feather pattern inspired by the team’s “Super Eagles” nickname.

“Last seen during Nigeria’s 1994 appearance on the world stage, the design has been enlivened to capture the energy of the 2018 team,” Nike said.

Building upon the learnings from the successful 2018 Nigeria Collection, Nike undertook deep cultural immersions and collaborated with the NFF to ensure the designs truly resonated with the “federation’s infectious charisma shining through in the flamboyant Nigeria collection.”

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With the recent unveiling of the jerseys, Nike who are fully aware of the importance Nigeria places on culture fused the traditional aesthetic of an agbada robe with modern football design.

Since returning as NFF’s kit sponsor in April 2015, Nike latest offering has a home which as expected, comes in traditional green and white national colours.

The white runs down the middle from top to bottom while the pitch green and white patterns hang on the shoulders just like an Agbada, a four-piece attire found among the Yoruba of southwestern Nigeria which Nike draws inspiration from.

The away kit is all-grey with the pitch green and white patterns in the V-shaped collar and sleeves.

According to Nike, “the kit’s pattern was hand-drawn and is highly symbolic of Nigerian heritage with nods to nobility and family. Nigeria’s crest is placed centrally on the chest with a Swoosh underneath it.

“The player names and numbers integrate the eagle feather into the application. “Naija” appears inside the neck of jersey and on the back of the socks in a new typeface,” it said.

The away kit is inspired by Onanism, a traditional artistic movement central to Nigerian design and craft represented in the trim details.

An eagle feather aesthetic, creatively distorted, continuously repeats in ascending size to create a visual impact.

The collar has a slight V overlap with a thicker overlap in the back. Both the collar and the sleeves feature a slight nick at the mid-point.

The broader Naija collection will feature an extensive array of Super Eagles apparel including a poncho, vest, dress and more.

After unveiling the kits with some unknown figures, a host of Super Eagles players including Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi, Samuel Chukwueze, William Troost-Ekong have gotten their hands on it.

Super Falcons superstar Asisat Oshoala is also among the footballers that have been seen with the new kit.

On Sunday, September 20, the Super Eagles official social media accounts shared a host of photos of different players in the kit.

The players also took to their respective social media accounts to share photos of them in the kits.

It will be the third time Nike will come with new designs for Nigeria’s national teams since they became kit sponsors of the NFF in April 2015.

I'm an avid and seasoned sports/ multimedia journalist. I have a biased love for Real Madrid and passionate advocate for the overall growth of the Nigeria Sports Project. I can be reached on 09077894123 or/and '[email protected]'

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