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Entrepreneur highlights Africa's growing sports market

THOUGHT-PROVOKING: Gabriel Ajala wants to showcase the market around African sports

SPORTS ENTREPRENEUR Gabriel Ajala is hosting a much-anticipated Africa Sports Unified event, about the sports business community for the diaspora, on March 7.

This week, in his own words, he tells the Voice of Sport about the event and his love of sport…

“The initial thought of Africa Sports Unified began when I was studying my Masters in sports management and the business of football at Birkbeck University.

“I focused my dissertation on the commercialisation of the Nigerian professional football league, and on gathering research, I was surprised by how difficult it was to find credible sources of information on the African sports market such as insight, articles, journals and research on topics such as sponsorship, media, a comprehensive sports calendar, acquisitions and more.

“In Western Europe, we are blessed with many outlets that provide us with such information, such as Sky Sports News, SportBusiness, Sportcal, SportsPro, Sport Industry Group and Inside World Football, to name but a few.

“However, for the African market, I could only find Sport Industry Group South Africa at the time.

“So instead of being frustrated at the situation, I saw this as an opportunity to fill a gap in the market and at this moment Africa Sports Unified (ASU) was born.


PICTURED: Tirunesh Dibaba

“Africa has a large and engaging diaspora, a growing economy and is the birthplace to some of the greatest sporting personalities such as Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, Mo Farah, Caster Semenya, Tirunesh Dibaba, Kirsty Coventry, Haile Gebrselassie, George Weah, Dikembe Mutombo and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

“But yet the continent still lags behind others in sports development infrastructure. “It is no secret that foreign interest has long exploited Africa’s resources and of course labour and sport is no different. For too long, the narrative surrounding Africa and sports was one of aid, charity, corruption, political interference and players of African descent plying their trade abroad.

“We aim to change this narrative.

“ASU seeks to be the sports business hub for all African-related sports, portraying a true reflection of the growing sports market. At ASU we believe there is strength in unity. Nothing great is ever achieved in isolation. We improve standards, change perceptions, foster opportunities for collaboration and the sharing of ideas.

“We create thought-provoking content, podcasts and insight from our global community of athletes, leaders and decision makers.

“With key partners across Africa and Europe, we organise conferences, celebrate people in the industry via awards, educate and inform via data and insight, improve standards and facilitate the sharing of ideas for future and sustained growth of the global sports business market.

“The event will be the first in a series which will have an expert panel that will give their insights into the realities of working in the African sports market, plus the challenges and opportunities that exist.

BREXIT

“We have top sports brands and Premier League clubs that will be in attendance and delegates and a panel consisting of a sports media agency owner, head of Africa from a management company and a top sports agent.

“We live in a time where Brexit is on the horizon, where the UK is looking further afield to build strong relations, evidenced by Theresa May’s trip to South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria towards the end of 2018, and her pledge to pump £4bn in support to African economies.

“There is no better time than now to raise awareness, begin the conversations, build bridges and showcase a true representation of the diaspora and the African sports market and March 7 will be the beginning of this.”

Visit asunified.com or find @asunified on Twitter and Instagram for more. Tickets are available at eventbrite. co.uk/e/asu-presentsan-introduction-into-theafrican-sports-marketregistration-55450964327.

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