Thursday Dec 10, 2020. 17:01
This year, LaLiga celebrated its fifth year of being rooted in Africa since gracing our shores back in 2015, the organisation has had a massive impact on Mzansi, most notably the leagues’ social influence on changing youth football players’ lives and communities. But that is not where their reach ends; LaLiga has hosted various activations, both physical and digital, and has initiated campaigns that use sports to make a difference across Africa.
The impact made by LaLiga is mainly felt by physical activities, all over Africa, as over the past 5 years over 350 activations have been introduced to thousands of LaLiga fans. It does not end there, as the use of social media has been integral in ensuring LaLiga gets closer to their fans and importantly speaks in their fan’s languages. In Africa alone, LaLiga has gained an insurmountable number of followers on their social media platforms with 10M+ followers across all their dedicated platforms. LaLiga has gone as far as posting in more than 30 African languages.
It is through activities like these and its partnerships with SuperSport, Hollywoodbets, and COSAFA that it continues to cement LaLiga in South Africa and touch the lives of thousands of football enthusiasts. This was true for U20 Zambian football player Patrick Gondwe who received the opportunity to trial at a professional club in Spain at the end of last year. Together with COSAFA, LaLiga created an opportunity for one talented player to trial for the CD Numancia team, a team that has also helped other African stars make their mark, like RCD Mallorca striker, Lago Junior from Ivory Coast, and former Cameroon midfielder, Daniel Kome, who played during the 2000/2001 season.
On a more local football scale, LaLiga, in partnership with a myriad of event organisers across the country as well as the continent have been involved in hosting yearly festive season and youth football tournaments. The tournaments were key in bringing together developments and amateur football clubs plus fans for a fun outing as well as memorable moments filled with football. Although fan engagement was a big drawcard the purpose of such initiatives was to nurture the growth of football in Africa and help professional sides in Mzansi find the next big star.
Added to this is their commitment to developing the beautiful game at a grassroots level and bringing awareness to women’s football and women football players. In 2018, LaLiga sponsored the U17 women’s national team (Bantwana) eight-day tour of Spain where they took on numerous Spanish women’s teams in friendly matches. This trip was to aid the national side in preparing for the 2018 U17 Women’s World Cup, which took place in Uruguay.
The immersion of Africans into Spanish football, and Spaniards into the African space has boosted LaLiga greatly over the years. This stems from numerous projects with LaLiga clubs, be it opening development academies in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Egypt respectively to bringing top sides such as FC Barcelona, Atlético de Madrid and Sevilla FC to play friendly matches on the African shore.
“From the start, we realised that LaLiga needed to have more than just a physical presence in the country,” remarked Marcos Pelegrin, LaLiga South Africa Managing Director.
Over the past two years, LaLiga’s physical presence in Africa has been promoted by their partnerships with regional partners and sponsors. Today, LaLiga has seven regional partners in Africa – a huge surge since the initial zero when they entered the continent.
“Working alongside South African partners and fans helped us create stronger and lasting relationships that ultimately led to LaLiga building a Spanish football legacy across the entire continent,” added Pelegrin.
Aiding its growing success, LaLiga has been closely associated with SuperSport since the beginning. Before 2013, viewers could only watch the Spanish sides in UEFA competitions, but the league’s local broadcasting deals have made it possible for fans to watch Spanish domestic matches via SuperSport too.
And the fanbase is growing! Nielsen data shows that South African LaLiga audiences grew by 210% since last season. This is also evident in the fact that the total increase in LaLiga audiences has increased by +160% in the last two seasons.
In addition to the league’s viewership surge, last season LaLiga introduced its latest broadcasting venture, LaLiga TV. LaLiga TV is the first dedicated 24/7 LaLiga Santander English-language channel in Sub-Saharan Africa – and it is available to DStv subscribers. It gives football fans something that no other football league has before: a fan’s dream football channel offering in-depth coverage, informed debates, tactical analysis, and all the latest news on each and every team in LaLiga Santander.
“LaLiga is not only about football – it’s entertainment at its finest,” added Pelegrin.
“Our presence in South Africa along with the various partnerships we’ve entered into have helped us grow the brand, giving fans more than just football. Our vision is twofold. First, we want to arrange more commercial partnerships in South Africa to help tell our story to a wider audience, and second, we want to develop football through different activations that will empower the people of South Africa from the ground up.”