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
“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.