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Football | Nigeria

COD’s mascot flavours NNL



It’s time to focus on mascots rather than players.

Mascots are as much a part of football as the players themselves.

It’s unusual to find mascots in the Nigerian League, but they remain a common feature in Europe. Most clubs have furry mascots, but few have a living symbol of their heritage like 1. FC Köln’s, Hennes VIII, a living billy goat, which has a Facebook page.

In England, the popular mascots include “Robbie the Bobby” (Bury FC), “Chaddy The Owl” (Oldham Athletic), "Fred the Red" (Manchester United), “Stamford The Lion” (Chelsea), “Gunnersaurus Rex” (Arsenal), “Hercules The Lion” (Aston Villa) and the controversial “Cyril the Swan” (Swansea City) amongst others.

Mascots like “Cyril the Swan” and “Stamford The Lion” are on Twitter.

An annual competition (Mascots Grand National) is even organised to boost the popularity of mascots in England and organisers of the Capital One Cup have spiced the competition with a “Mascot Match-Up” to build interest ahead of the latter stages.

I’ve followed the Nigerian League from the defunct Division One League through the defunct Professional League as well as the Premier League and can’t remember any club having a mascot.

City of David, an innovative brand in the Nigerian League has entered the history books as the first to have a mascot. Interestingly, COD is a lower division side.

So what’s happening to all the big names (Enyimba, Kano Pillars, Shooting Stars, Enugu Rangers et al) in Nigeria’s top flight.

Anyway, meet Mr. Leo, a funny character, who is the Official Mascot of City of David FC.

It’s a unique job and the rich history of mascots continues to unfold as time goes by. Mascots occupy a position that requires creativity, consistency, individuality, and strong symbology.

In the years ahead, Mr. Leo will be more than just a mascot. He will be a living legend.

Perhaps, other clubs will take the COD example.

Evolution of Mr. Leo

Chief Executive Officer of COD United, Sola Opaleye told supersport.com that the story of Mr. Leo started during the 2012 season.

“Mr. Leo is a friendly character, who appears only during home matches and has since become the face of the club. He is a regular feature of our “Football In The Community” projects.

“Last month, COD organised the first “Football In The Community” Initiative and Mr. Leo was available to make the kids happy and also presented gifts to them.

“The nickname of the club is White Lion, which explains why the mascot is named Mr. Leo.

“Our aim is to give Mr. Leo a personality and make it a brand so as to sell replicas,” Opaleye said to supersport.com.

“We’ve plans to increase the number of mascots so Mr. Leo will have younger colleagues in the future,” Opaleye told supersport.com.

Matchday with Mr. Leo

Being a mascot is no easy job.

Mascots have the ability to either really involve the crowd in the game, or make a poor attempt and cause the crowd to turn on them.

I watched Mr. Leo at work during the home match against Abia Warriors and the “White Lion” displayed his passion for COD.

Like other mascots, Mr. Leo danced and cheered his team and equally proved to be an amusing character.

"The White Lion" paraded the stadium in a red-and-white apparel and moved to the stands when it was time for kick-off.

If mascots have been known to get into trouble and getting overly excited in the English Premier League, Mr. Leo wasn’t different.

Mascots & Marching Orders

It sounds crazy, but mascots have found their way into the referees’ books like unruly players.

Reading mascot, “Kingsley Royal”, QPR's seven-foot feline mascot, “Jude the Cat”, Oldham Athletic's supersized “Owl mascot”, Controversial “Cyril the Swan” and Bury FC's “Robbie the Bobby” amongst others have been punished in England.

Back home, Mr. Leo can be angry, but is yet to rattle any referee.



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