By PATRICK OMORODION
Popular comedian, Bright Okpocha aka Basketmouth set the tone for the evening at what un_arguably was an A_Class gathering of the Nigerian football community drawn to the Civic Centre to witness the official launch of the partnership between Africaâ€™s telecommunications giant, Globacom and English Premier League Champions, Manchester United.
Having introduced his colleagues from the thriving Nigerian entertainment industry, Basketmouth went on to announce that â€œalso here in our presence, is a perfect and very successful gentleman whom everyone loves to associate withâ€¦ he is here, right here and his name is Bright Okpocha, that is meâ€.
The laughter that roared from the up scale guests, mostly fans of the famous English club and a legend of the club, Andy Cole, added colour to the already captivating ambience of the hall.
Few days to the event, there had been a scramble by the football community for the invitation cards, a uniquely stylish print. Okpochaâ€™s introduction of guests which included the Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) who was represented by his Special Adviser on Youths and Sports, Dr. Dolapo Badru, was followed by the rendition of the national anthem by the duo of Gospel act, Sammy Okposo and Ego.
Charles Jenarius, Globacomâ€™s Marketing Communications Regional Director for West Africa, in his welcome address, described the event as the union of two great international brands.
Jenarius said, â€œI welcome you all to the union of two great brands, Globacom, one of Africaâ€™s most dynamic and innovative telecoms brand, and Manchester United, one the worldâ€™s most famous and successful football clubsâ€.
He explained that by the partnership, Globacom will enjoy an exclusive status as the Official Integrated Telecoms Partner of Manchester United in Nigeria, Ghana and Benin Republic.
Elaborating further on the reason for the partnership, the Globacom official said â€œas we all know, football is more than a passion, itâ€™s a religion. It engages and entertains the people of this continent.
Recognising this, our visionary Chairman, Dr Mike Adenuga Jr. (CON), invested over USD 50 million in the last seven years in sponsoring the Premier League and the National football team of Nigeria and more recently that of Ghana. Taking this involvement to a higher level, the partnership between Globacom and Manchester United will provide opportunities to aid the further development of football at the grassroots level through the facilities of the Manchester United Soccer Schoolâ€.
Nick Humphreys, the Relationship Director, Sponsorship Servicing of Manchester United, in his address, said â€œwe are delighted to team up with Globacom to put the magic of Manchester United into the palms of our fans here in West Africa because Globacom will be providing our fans who cannot reach Old Trafford a chance to feel connected with the team. It also means a lot to us at United because Globacom has become a gateway for us to talk directly to fansâ€.
Humphreys praised Globacom for its investment in the partnership which he described as very significant and expressed confidence that the company will develop new contents that will enable the club communicate widely and effectively with its numerous supporters.
The speeches were followed by the pyrotechnic_spiced launching of the partnership logo and theme which came in form of a short documentary that took the audience through the Manchester United Football Clubâ€™s theatre of dreams at Old Trafford.