Fashioned after the College Cup system (with higher institutions) in the United States of America, which has since become a mega business, one of Nigeria’s most innovative banks, STANBIC-IBTC, is using same strategy to create memorable moments amongst undergraduates in Nigerian Universities.
Since its inception in 2018, the HiFL has become an exciting part of life in the Universities. Call it the Champions League for Universities and you won’t be wrong.
It is an event that undergraduates look forward to experiencing every year and has since gained Top-Of-Mind-Awareness. Football is about fan experience: before, during and after the match.
Indeed, STANBIC-IBTC is making football available to passionate fans spread across Nigerian universities.
From 16 participating Universities in the inaugural edition in 2018, the number has increased to 40 in the second edition, in 2019. The figure has since increased again with 50 in the last edition.
An increase in participating institutions has a corresponding increase in the number of fans base for brand leveraging.
Football unites Nigerians; irrespective of religion, ethnicity as well as culture and every participating institution is a clear representation of the country.
With support from the Nigeria University Games Association (NUGA), STANBIC-IBTC has succeeded in creating a building a league brand for Nigeria spiced with unforgettable match day experience for fans in Nigerian universities.
Thanks to Stanbic-IBTC, HiFL is not just about the participating teams, it is also structured to reward fans who are undergraduates.
Globally, football is incomplete with the fans. So, the HiFL considers the fans as an integral part of the competition.
Match days are funfilled with fans in attendance, not just to support their teams, but also to win prizes.
Creating Football Stars
Every tournament unearths new stars and the HiFL is not different,
From inception, the tournament has lived up to expectations with up-and-coming stars rising up to become headline grabbers.
- David Ebuka: University of Agriculture Makurdi – UAM Tillers to Kano Pillars (NPFL)
- Robert Odu: University of Lagos – UNILAG Marines to Remo Stars (NPFL), Happy Valley (Hong Kong), Extramadura (Spain)
- Imade Osarenkhoe: University of Benin – UNIBEN Royals to Bendel Insurance
- Emmanuel Ogbole: Nasarawa United
Merchandising is one of the strategies conceived to enhance emotional connectional with their institutions. Fans easily connect with merchandise not just as a way of supporting their teams, but also to show ownership.
Interestingly, students in schools also have the chance to embrace the HiFL Student Franchise programme which provides an opportunity for students with experience in sales to market and promote HiFL merchandise.
These includes HiFL jerseys, HiFL balls and HiFL shirts.
Names of Teams
With HiFL, it’s a complete emotional connection as each participating institution has its unique name. Attractive names have the ability to establish faster bonding between fans and their teams.
Some of the names include:
- UNILAG Marines
- UNIMAID Desert Warriors
- UNICAL Malabites
- UNN Lions
- FUTA Tigers
- LAUTECH HUNTERS
Attracting more sponsors
Each presents fresh sponsorship opportunities with brands eager to tap into the prestige of the HiFL to also connect with potential consumers who fall within the age range of their target market.
With STANBIC-IBTC championing the emergence of the new University League brand in the country, more partners have since joined the squad for brand leveraging.
The list includes:
- Spanish Top flight, La Liga
- PREMIER Cool Soap
- NIVEA Men (Official Men’s Grooming Partner)
- Minimi Chin Chin
- La Casera
- Complete Sports Newspapers
Brand Connection With Consumers
The fact that the HiFL is spread over 50 Universities clearly presents a veritable platform for brands to easily connect with niche markets.
Match days have become exciting moments with all brands exploring different marketing communications strategies to win the heart of millions of passionate fans of the university league brand.
These strategies have further showcased the HiFL and participating brands as the most attractive amongst undergraduates.
Television (Preview Show & Live Broadcast)
The importance of television to the growth of any sport property cannot be overemphasized. It is indeed the icing on the cake.
With a preview show and matches on cable channel SuperSport, STANBIC-IBTC has taken HiFL to a pan-African platform to further enhance its brand profile.
Today, the HiFL can also be compared to the Varsity Football in South Africa which is also aired on SuperSport.
Biggest Collegiate League in Africa
With 50 participating schools in the last edition, the HiFL clearly tops the chart as the biggest Collegiate League in the continent.
According to hifl.com, interest in the League has reached an all-time high with no fewer than 60 schools indicating interest in the 2022 edition.
Apart from the regulars, new entrants such as Al-Hikmah University (Ilorin), Akwa Ibom University (Uyo), Summit University (Offa), Tai Solarin University of Education (Ijebu-Ode) and the Nigerian Army University (Biu), will debut in the 2022 edition.
2018: University of Agriculture, Makurdi (UAM Tillers)
2019: University of Calabar (UNICAL Malabites)
2021: University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID Desert Warriors)