By Juliet Ebirim
For Nigerian professional footballer, Wilfred Ndidi and sports consultant cum analyst, Ozoemena Chukwu, soccer fanhood is no longer just about cheering for your team or rooting for your favourite player to score a match-winning goal. A good weekend watching football can now put you right at the centre of the action. You can now be the manager of your very own team every match week!
Being able to do this for African fans is one of the reasons English Premier League midfielder and Nigeria’s Super Eagles player, Wilfred has joined Founder and CEO Fola Folowosele as an investor in FanBants.
“I’m very excited about FanBants’ approach. When I get involved in projects like this, I look to work with really great business partners. For me all the boxes were checked. Fola is a graduate of Harvard Business School and has extensive experience in the business of sports having worked at Nike, the top sports brand in the world. Ozo on the other hand is an icon in the sports and entertainment space in Africa”. he said.
For Ozo, a former Big Brother Naija Housemate and current host of several football show on TV and radio, the intersection of sports and entertainment is what drew him to FanBants. “I saw the potential immediately and with my background in this space, jumping in was a no-brainer for me. I’m excited to join Fola and Wilfred on this journey to introduce new audiences to the fun of fantasy sports.” he enthused.
While big players dominate the fantasy sports space in the US, Rei do Pitaco and Draftea are making inroads in Brazil and Mexico respectively, fantasy sports is still in its infancy in Africa. Fola Folowosele wants to change this. Given how important football, a sport watched by 5 billion fans globally, is to Africans, he was inspired to build a fantasy sports company for Africa by Africans.
He says “It’s amazing to have partners like Wilfred and Ozo, who I can partner with to bring the vision of building the most engaged football community to life. When I started on this journey, I knew I wanted to bring on people who truly understand the African football culture today and can also envision how it evolves. FanBants is more than just friendly competition, community and football banter. We are reimagining and challenging the status quo and are thrilled to take Africans on the journey with us. Ultimately, we want to challenge what fanhood means to people. We want every FanBanter to be more than a fan.
Other backers of FanBants include Eric Idiahi (Chairman Tangerine Africa), Shola Akinlade (CEO Paystack), Yasmin Belo-Osagie (Partner Metis Capital), Lamide Adeosun, Vivek Aswani, Andres Bilbao (Co-founder Rappi) among others.
On the platform, football fans get to create a fantasy team based on real players and matches going on that week. Points are earned based on the real-life performance of their selected players and fantasy teams performance are tracked on the leaderboard. At the end of every match week, winners get cash and/or prizes depending on the competitions entered and more importantly, earn bragging rights.