LaLiga representative in Cameroon, Javier Morente Garcia, has said LaLiga has come to stay in Cameroon unlike other sporting projects in Africa and Cameroon that are short-lived. Through its Global Network project, LaLiga is striving to get closer to the fans.Sports activities with federations, leagues, academies and NGOs are the gateway through which LaLiga is set to help develop Cameroon football in Cameroon. LaLiga was officially launched in Cameroon during the Spanish National Day, an opportunity for Lions4life to talk to LaLiga representative.
What is the rationale behind LaLiga deploying in Africa and Cameroon?
LaLiga is a competition that is played in Spain but it is followed all over the world, just to give you a figure, during the 2016/17 season, we had 2.5 billion spectators all over the world so our fans are not only in Spain but all over the World. Against this backdrop, we started an international strategy based on two main periods. The first period was 2013-2017, we opened seven offices around the world (other than Spain), in the US, Nigeria, South Africa, Dubai, India, China and Singapore, as well as a legal office in Brussels. This year, we have started a very ambitious global project, we launched what is called LaLiga Global Network, that is having a delegate physically based in each of the 34 additional countries, so we are now present in 43 countries. Cameroon has had a long sporting success for the last decade, winning AFCON in 2000, 2002, 2017, the gold medal in Sidney in 2000 against Spain in the finals, and having great players in LaLiga and Europe (Thomas N’kono, Jacques Songo’o, Samuel Eto’o). Cameroon is a consolidated football reference and there is room for improvement with upcoming events like the Africa Cup of Nations. Football is a way of living in Cameroon and LaLiga could not miss it.
How are you going to deploy in Cameroon?
We have developed a strong plan for Cameroon, and it is something that we have put a lot of effort, we spent four months trying to understand the realities in Cameroon, the opportunities, obstacles and how LaLiga help can Cameroon overcome the obstacles. We launched LaLiga officially on the Spanish National Day, October 12, an important day for us. And once here our idea is to implement the strategy. As a delegate, I am the eyes of LaLiga in Cameroon and I will follow the plan and detect business opportunities and good partnerships. We shall bring experts and the know-how of LaLiga to coaches here in Cameroon. LaLiga will always have at least one person in Cameroon.
How important is Cameroon for LaLiga?
Cameroon is strategic market, key for LaLiga, and as I said the Global Network programme for Africa has seven countries, one of them is Cameroon. Cameroon without football is not Cameroon, so it makes total sense for LaLiga to be in Cameroon. It is not only a consolidated African reference but there is room for improvement and we want to help so that Cameroon can keep showing what they are capable of.
You will be signing some partnerships; how will that be beneficial for LaLiga?
In line with our objectives we have two missions: the first is being a strategic partner for the development of Cameroon, which answers the question “What are the necessities for Cameroon?”. This mission includes sports activities with the federation, leagues, clubs, academies, and what we are trying to do here is the exchange of knowledge,know-how and experiences with people from Spain to Cameroon, and vice versa. The other is bringing LaLiga closer to our fans, and this answers the question “What can LaLiga do on daily basis for Cameroon people and society?”, and here we try to sign partnerships with media both online and offline to explain our project. Also partnerships with marketing companies which means promoting their products using LaLiga images. We also want to do partnerships with foundations-there are NGOs in Cameroon that use football as a way of changing life. We also work with our TV partners, Canal + Afrique and SuperSport, to promote LaLiga matches. The last is brand activation which we used the Spanish National Day to promote LaLiga.
Which academies do you plan to work with?
Yes, football academies are one of our priorities, we are aware of the huge talent there is in Cameroon and we are here to help in their development. We have identified about four top level academies. Like we do in other countries where we have partnerships, we understand what their needs are and we elaborate tailor-made and flexible partnerships to suit their necessities. Here in Cameroon we think we understand the necessities, we have had meetings with the academies and we are trying to find the right balance for those necessities.
What are your immediate activities?
The very first thing to do was to officially launch La Liga and that was done using the Spanish National Day, it was a great engagement and people were happy. Now that they know we are officially here, we are going to follow the strategic planning and the first priorities are academies, the media, NGOs.
What does the expression ‘beyond 90 minutes’ mean for LaLiga?
It means everything for LaLiga. Our slogan is ‘it’s not football, it’s LaLiga’. For many years now we have proven that we are the best league in the world. From the records, we have the best teams, (the last four Champions League were won by a Spanish team), the best players, (the past eight Ballon d’Or have been won by players of LaLiga), the best match in the world, (El classico FC Barcelone-Real de Madrid match is viewed by 400 million people). We have proven that for 90 minutes we are the best. It is time to prove that we can do more, for example with this Global Network project, being present in more than 43 countries around the world, no sports entity does this. We have unique programmes such as ‘Ambassadors’, where former players represent our competitions around the world in important events. Also, ‘LaLiga4sports’, in which LaLiga helping all the federations to improve and get visibility. LaLiga World is another project, in which in summer, clubs travel around the world to compete. We pull off effort in women’s football which is getting professional in Spain, we bring the experience of the men’s football to the women’s football. We also have ‘LaLiga Experience’ where we take our partners to live an experience week-end in Spain-to enjoy Spain, see the players, warm -up by the grass. So, there are many things beyond the 90 minutes going on. Beyond 90 minutes, is our slogan, “it’s not football, it is LaLiga”.
What message are you sending to LaLiga fans in Cameroon?
The message is that LaLiga is here, we have come to stay, many sports entities come to Africa for a short time and leave but this is a different project, we want to bring LaLiga close to the fans daily. There is plenty of room for the football industry in Cameroon to improve and from LaLiga we want to help them to be their partner for that development.