One of the best things about last year’s World Cup in Crete was the fact that we were able to expand the reach of the tournament to make it truly, completely global.
One of the new nations we were so pleased to welcome was Nigeria.
Their first major tournament was a steep learning curve for the team, but few countries embodied the spirit of 6 a side football better than their inexperienced squad.
Here, we catch up with Henry Koko, who played in the team and heads up The Hive Leagues, to find out about developments since – and to discuss life in lockdown.
So Henry, when last we spoke, we talked about the sport in Nigeria and how it was lifted by the world cup, so I guess, what has happened since?
Since we returned from the World Cup, we have launched Corporate and Youth leagues, and have been invited to speak on a couple of TV stations as well as radio about what the HIVE Leagues and SOCCA is all about
I suppose we must talk about Covid-19? How are you and your family first of all? Are you in lockdown over in Nigeria?
Even though we live in one of the epicentres (the city of Lagos), my family and I are very well. Lagos and a few others are currently in lockdown and have been for at least a month.
I assume football has stopped as a result?
Yes! We as an organization called off our activities a week before it was officially announced. All sports and social gatherings across the nation are off at the moment.
Are you already planning for the future, and the end of the pandemic?
We certainly are. As uncertain as the future may be, we continue to plan and prepare for life after the pandemic. We are preparing to restart the leagues and launch others in other cities across the country.
What is the one thing you are most looking forward to after life returns to normal?
I doubt that things will return to exactly how they were pre-pandemic but I am hoping to see people back out there playing sport and meeting up in social gatherings without too much hesitation.
And I know, because we spoke about it, how important the World Cup was for you, and I know you spoke with the England team on social media last week, the friendships you made in Crete, seem to have lasted.
Yes. The World Cup was a great experience for us as it was important for us, at this stage of our business, to be there. We are hoping to push on from here and achieve great things as an organization. We made some friendships and connections in Crete but not nearly enough, to be honest but we are hopeful that we would get a chance to correct this sometime soon.
We have recently dedicated a slot in our media program, to talk on all things socca. On such days, we run a brief on teams and associations in the SOCCA Fed family with focus on their time at the World Cup. It was really easy talking about Team England, for many reasons; common language, the EPL, some personal relationships and of course their amazing performance at the tournament.
All this, helps us relive the World Cup experience in many ways, draws much-needed attention to socca and of course makes our SOCCA Fed family and friends know that we remember them, especially at this time.
To find out more about The Hive Leagues in Nigeria click here