The Creative Championship (TCC) is the first Nigerian league to feature on Wyscout and looks to increase global visibility for the stars of tomorrow.

“We have the track record of producing very talented players from Nigeria and we have many more within our shores, but there is not enough opportunity for them to be seen.”

This lack of visibility drove Olajide Akinyelu and his co-founders to set up The Creative Championship, a competition designed to be the gold standard for youth football development in Nigeria.

“We are changing the narrative of the Nigerian football space,” states Akinyelu, league technical director and president of Gbagada FC. “We want to be the go-to league for young players.”

Beyond Limits celebrating their title

Founded in 2020, TCC comprises a league and cup format running across a six month period and features clubs drawn from Nigeria’s third tier. Now in its fourth season, the competition’s success has seen it swiftly expand from 8 to 12 teams, with many more keen to join.

One of the guiding principles behind the league is the desire to provide more competitive football further down the pyramid. Typically teams in the third tier, the Nigeria Nationwide League, could only expect to play around 10 games but TCC provides a minimum of 27 additional fixtures for all teams involved.

“We saw that there weren't enough games for our players,” says Akinyelu. “TCC now gives more than enough playing time to develop youngsters correctly, get accurate stats on the players and sufficient video highlights to help market them.”

“Our main focus is to develop players and hopefully transfer them abroad, so that they can begin their professional careers,” continues Akinyelu, when describing the goals of TCC. 

Akinyelu also hopes this can have a knock-on effect for the national team: “Because the age range for players in our league is mostly from about 15 to 22 years old, we are hoping that, with our video and data, it can help the scouts and department of the national teams to easily select players and to help build a stronger national team for the country.”

We are changing the narrative of the Nigerian football space. We want to be the go-to league for young players. Olajide Akinyelu - President, Gbagada FC

What truly makes TCC unique in the region is their commitment to innovation and their adoption of Wyscout technology to achieve their goals and remove obstacles traditionally faced in the scouting process.

Bamidele Olusanya, president of TCC club Broad City FC, underlines the competitive advantage that access to consistent, in-depth data gives the league: “Being the first league body to have actually joined Wyscout in Nigeria, we've been the first to give the data week in week out. It's not every organization or team - not just in Nigeria, but also across Africa - that has the ability to do this.”

This helps scouts and agents make informed decisions from objective data and also means player performances can be compared and contrasted with other leagues using the same metrics to help determine suitability for potential transfers.

“When you look at the statistics and you see the level at which the boys are playing on a weekly basis, we could actually match it to a similar level to not just the second division in Nigeria but some of the second tier in Europe,” states Olusanya.

TCC Top Scorers at the halfway point of the 2023/24 season

The detailed video coverage that Wyscout brings has also been a game changer. As well as giving Nigerian players more visibility, it gives scouts, agents and federations further visual evidence to back up the data in front of them.

“We made the decision that if we put our league on Wyscout, we would get more eyeballs on our players,” explains Akinyelu. “It will shock you that many second tier teams in Nigeria can’t provide you with video footage of their games. But at TCC, from the first season to today, we can provide you with almost every video because we had the video with us when we started the league and we cover all of our games.”

Wyscout video has also given young TCC players a bigger shop window compared to the previous snatched opportunities to impress foreign scouts in person.

“We have regular scouting tournaments all over the country where scouts and directors come in and, in the space of three days, you can have about 15 to 20 teams trying to showcase their players,” says Akinyelu. “That gives each player maybe a maximum of 20 minutes each.”

“When we started TCC, it was a big problem, you know. You might be a very good player, but in 20 minutes you might not be seen. So we made a decision that in our league, all the games must be recorded, so a scout or a club can look at you over the course of 20 games, instead of just 20 minutes.”

“I can say confidently before TCC and Wyscout, you can't scout via video for a Nigerian player.” 

As well as the benefits for TCC and their players, the streamlined recruitment processes through Wyscout's video and data have facilitated the work for international teams, improving efficiencies across the board.

“I started getting offers from clubs in Japan. I don't have to send videos to them. They can go on the platform and check there and tell me: “I need this, I need that”,” says Abayomi Michael Egbayelo, president of Iganmu Tigers FC.

TCC Combined XI in Wyscout's Rankings Index

Ultimately, the combination of Wyscout video and data gives TCC something indispensable: trust. 

“The biggest obstacle we have is trust,” Olusanya explains. “A club or a scout not trusting the level of football in Nigeria and the level of players. With Wyscout, we can actually help in giving the trust and letting clubs and agents understand that, ok, come to this league, watch it and there is data and footage that you can actually see.”

This ties into the spirit of fair play, another fundamental pillar of the league: “What makes us unique is three things: fair play, meritocracy based on talent alone, and balanced officiating,” states Egbayelo. “We try to enlighten our referees about the level of officiating because it has been one of the biggest problems in Africa.” 

“Most of the young players in Nigeria, they all want to come and join a team that plays in TCC,” he adds. “They would rather come to the TCC than go to the top league because everybody, all the directors in TCC, we are all working on the same page and we all want to achieve the same goal.”

“I can say confidently before TCC and Wyscout, you can't scout via video for a Nigerian player.” Olajide Akinyelu - President, Gbagada FC

On top of clear benefits Wyscout video and data has given TCC in terms of helping their players to get noticed, it has also had an impact on game preparation, opposition scouting and player development.

“I'm a coach and I can speak first-hand about how this has made my preparations for games very easy,” says Akinyelu. “I can easily go on my opponent’s page, see the attacking style of play, see their corner kicks routines, you know. You get all the information you need.”

“We have these video sessions with the players where they watch the opponent. We actually show them clips of how they play so, when we get to the pitch to prepare for the match, it makes training easier.”

“It has made games more tactical and, for the coaches in the league, it's been more fun for us.”

“If you look around the globe, you will find a Nigerian thriving in every league.”

A quick glance at Europe’s top leagues and Akinyelu’s words ring true. 

Victor Osimhen and Asisat Oshoala are reigning men’s and women’s African footballer of the year, Victor Boniface is one of the top goalscorers in the Bundesliga this season with Leverkusen, while the likes of Samuel Chukwueze, Taiwo Awonyi and Akor Adams are all thriving in elite competitions.

The future looks bright too with Gift Orban, Rafiu Durosimni and Ahmed Abdullahi showing that they could be next in line to bolster the Super Eagles’ veritable armada of attacking options.

“We are almost on the same wavelength as Brazilians. We have lots of talent within Nigeria, but we are not being seen,” Akinyelu concludes.

TCC is contributing to this new wave of exciting prospects and has already had a number of success stories. 

Akinsanmiro Ebenezer signed for Inter Milan after his performances for Beyond Limits, former Valiant winger Tunde Akinsola is now in Spain with Real Valladolid, and defender Soloman Agbalaka has made a first team appearance for Sochi in the Russian Premier League.

As well as exporting players to destinations such as Brazil, Japan, Portugal and Serbia, a number of TCC graduates have gone on to play for top flight clubs within Nigeria too.

With TCC going from strength to strength, bolstered by Wyscout’s scouting and analysis solutions, there will no doubt be many more players given a chance to shine as the world discovers the new scouting possibilities that are now available in Nigeria.

Learn more about how Wyscout and the Wyscout Scouting Area is powering modern football scouting processes.

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