Fintech tycoon, co-founder and CEO, Shola Akinlade of Paystack, on Thursday, February 3, unveiled Sporting Lagos Football Club ahead of the 2021/2022 season in the Nigeria National League (NNL).
Joining Shola Akinlade, Godwin Enakhena, former managing director of MFM FC, will serve as chairman of Sporting Lagos FC, Uzo Okonkwo will be the club’s managing director and Yemisi Cole as the secretary. Colin Udoh, a former Super Eagles media officer as well as Fola Olatuniji-David, an employee of Google, all governing members of the club.
Akinlade’s commitment to deepen his involvement in his community was inspired by the death of his father in 2021.
“Last year, I lost my dad and spent a lot of time with my 75-year-old mum. And for the first time in my life, I started thinking about what my life would look like at 75. The outcome of my reflection was a commitment to deepen my involvement in our community, which has given me so much,” he said.
“Football has always been a space that makes me proud to be part of this country and continent. That’s likely because football is more than entertainment; it’s identity, it’s opportunity. Digging deeper into the sport has been a revelation. There’s an entire ecosystem of time, activity, and talent that goes into those electrifying 90 minutes.”
Akinlade further explained that the platform aligns with the movement to harness football’s transformative power to bring together people from all walks of life and create economic opportunities on a large scale.
“In the last few years, several platforms have emerged to provide opportunities for young Nigerians to perform at the highest level of excellence. Young Nigerians came together to turn technology, music, and cinema into hugely successful industries that command global attention, and we’ve built flourishing ecosystems around these platforms that benefit millions of people. In sports as well, we have a long history of individual Nigerians using football – and sports in general – as a platform to ascend to global recognition.”
Shola Akinlade added that he would remain fully focused on Paystack and building payments infrastructure for Africa. “I’ll provide most of the financial investment necessary to get this off the ground and will entrust the full-time team to realise our bold ambitions,” he said.
Commenting on the club’s goal, Enakhena stated that the team’s spell in the Nigerian second division would not be more than a season before joining the top teams in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
“I don’t see myself as someone that wants to run an NNL team, we tried our best to get an NPFL team, but it didn’t work out. We are an NNL team for now, but we will not spend more than one season in the second division,” he said.
Sporting Lagos FC, coached by Uche Okagbue, will begin its NNL campaign on February 12 when they host Go Round FC at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos. The club has also invited the general public to support the establishment by becoming Founding Members at a one-time fee of NGN 50,000 (or ~$100).