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With Naija village, we want to show that sports and tourism are one, PSMS Boss

Premium Sports Management Services (PSMS) in partnership with the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) and Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) is putting together an $8m dollar Naija fan village in Durban during the forthcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup being hosted by South Africa.

Obi

In this interview, the CEO of PSMS, Ms Nkechi Obi explains the rationale behind this concept and other sundry issues. Excerpts:

There has been a lot of buzz concerning Nigerian’s participation in the World Cup and the introduction of Naija Fan Village. Can you shed more light on the project?

The Naija Village is the Fan zone specifically targeted at Nigerians from Nigeria and the Diaspora to get a feel of a home_away_from_home at the South African 2010 World Cup. The centre which is based in Durban, South Africa is located 15 minutes from the Airport and the Stadium. It has the capacity to cater for an estimated daily audience of 5,000 persons, a total of between 160,000 and 200,000 persons over the 32 days of the event.

It is a fan community, with first class lodging and leisure facilities, and it was designed to maximize the experience of the World Cup for both the average Nigerian and international football fan. It is also part of our plan to use the centre to project a positive image of Nigeria to one of the most travelled persons in the world – the average football fan.

We learnt that Premium Sport Ltd. is partnering with the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) and Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation on this project. Who is the brain behind the project?

The project is an initiative of the NFF, with the NTDC and Premium Sports Management Services as partners. Worthy of note, however, is that the NFF has licensed our company to manage and market the Naija Fan Village as a foremost centre to experience the unique hospitality and friendliness of the Nigerian people and provide a special venue for Nigerians coming for the World Cup to gather and enjoy the experience.

How has the response been so far from the government, corporate bodies and the general public at large?
It’s been rather slow.

As you will recollect, most governmental agencies just got their share of the budget, and the corporate Nigerian decision process is rather slow. However, we have gotten lots of enquires for Nigerians in Diaspora and individuals. We will like to use this medium to solicit for patronage.

The 2010 World Cup
comes at a time when Nigeria marks her 50th Independence anniversary. How can the Naija Fan Village be used to project a positive image about Nigeria and her tourism potentials to the world?

We have created lots of opportunities to showcase the “Nigerianess” in us using the ambience that we intend to create in the village from our local food, our music, our culture and various exhibitions that will be mounted for the duration of the World Cup.

I believe all these will say a lot about Nigeria. And the main reason went into partnership with the NTDC and NFF is to show that football and tourism go hand in hand. So, with the Naija Fan Village, we hope to give all visitors a taste of the good side of Nigeria as against the negative publicity.
What are the different ways one can associate with the Naija Fan Village?

For the individual fan, it is by booking for an accommodation in the village, while for companies and corporate organizations it is by booking for the limited exhibition stands and pavilions. Also we are signing up corporate partners and governmental agencies that can use the Village to promote their product and services to the visitors.

Over the years, security has always been an issue in managing a large crowd. What are you and your partners doing to ensure that fans, visitors and participants at the Naija Fan Village have a hitch free outing in Durban, South Africa?
The Security issues have taken a paramount consideration, as we have a 24_hour security patrol on site. In addition, all the rooms have access control and personal vaults for valuables.

The NFF has also requested for additional security provision through the Embassy and Ministry of Foreign affairs to make sure that it’s a save haven for all visitors.
What led to the choice of Durban as the host City?

Well, Durban was picked because of its warm climate, being the warmest place in South Africa during the country’s winter season, with temperatures of over 20 degrees; just like what is obtainable here in Nigeria.

Another reason is that the KwaZulu Natal where Durban is situated, has adopted the Super Eagles as the team for Durban, and has pulled out all the stops to ensure that team has a good outing in the competition.

Also Durban will host other nine nations who will play in the city, including Brazil, Netherlands, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Australia, Portugal, Germany and Spain.

So, the choice is strategic as the fan village will offer opportunities for nationals of these countries to enjoy Nigeria’s peculiar hospitality, and we hope this will positively rub off on the country’s image.

If FIFA World Cup fans going to South Africa want a taste of sun, sea and sand before they head for the games, then Durban’s first class hospitality is very adequate. Built on a huge national lagoon in Africa’s biggest and busiest habour, the eastern coastal city of Durban has a year_long warm, subtropical climate, soft, sandy beaches and is South Africa’s most popular domestic holiday resort.

We hear that Brazil and Cameroon wants to partner with Nigeria at the Fan Village. How true is this and what will this partnership bring to Nigeria?

We have gotten enquires from these countries and many more as the village will also be open to all the nationals that will be playing in Durban during the period. Some Swedish companies also want to mount exhibitions in the Village.

Brazil and Cameroon have opened discussions with us about a partnership on the Naija Village in Durban. Although, it is a Nigerian project, we are making it into a distinctly African experience and Brazil is happy to key into that.
Neither country got to Durban on time and we picked the best spot.

They have no time now to set up their own village, so they are keen to pay in order to partner with us. Other African countries and corporate businesses in those countries have enquired about taking up space at the Village.

The Naija Village is a project owned by Nigerian sports marketing company Premium Sports, but facilitated by the NFF. Nothing has been agreed yet. We are meeting with the NFF soon to discuss things but we are hoping that Nigerian businesses take advantage of the opportunities before they are all snapped up by others.

Do you think the success of the Naija Fan Village in Durban South Africa will help the country in projecting a positive “brand Nigeria” to the World and her tourism potentials?

We are very positive as per the diverse possibilities for the country to use this to project our brand. We will therefore request that all the agencies saddle with these responsibilities come on board and let’s all partner to rewrite the negative publicity about us.

We are very hospitable and passionately nice people. There we will ensure that Nigeria’s culture in the areas of food and entertainment is in display. Prominent Nigerian musicians and the national troupe would be on hand to entertain visitors to the village. Access to the fan park would be free and we are expecting no fewer than 5,000 visitors daily for about 35 days the village will open.

There is no better way of promoting the country’s rich culture and tourism potentials than to exploit this opportunity.


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