ASU speaks to: Olukunle Kayode
Olukunle Kayode a young Nigerian man living in England. Having worked for one of the biggest financial data companies in London, Olukunle is now fully focused on his new brand ‘Africa Football Accelerator’ to help develop and grow grassroots football in Africa with the use of data. Not only will this improve grassroots in Africa, but it will also be a platform for coaches and scouts to make more informed decisions on talent from the shores of Africa. In this piece, we get to know more the man, his vision for AFA and his passion for the African sports market.
Hi Kunle, so please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
My name is Olukunle Kayode, a Nigerian for those who do not immediately recognise the name. My educational background has spanned Economics – for Undergrad and Investment Management – for Masters. I had always wanted to be involved in the financial sector, either analysing investment opportunities or facilitating deals, however, I ended up in financial data, which looking back was the perfect spring board to what I am doing now.
So what lead you to the thought of AFA and how did it start?
The progress of African football has always been my passion, and AFA’s mission is to foster the development and growth of football in Africa.
While I was working at one of the financial data companies in London, I was fascinated by the amount of data that people in the financial world pour over in order to come to a decision on a single investment opportunity. It made me think of how football has evolved to become more data driven. The progress of African football has always been my passion, and AFA’s mission is to foster the development and growth of football in Africa.
How has AFA developed from your original thought to what it is now?
The AFA idea has come on leaps and bounds since I initially conceived the concept. Since I left my full time job over 5 months ago, spending time on the idea full time has allowed the idea to grow and develop into something that is actually workable. I believe taking the bold step to leave full time employment and focusing on building a business out of this idea allows the conceptualization to continuously evolve to a product that will change the football landscape in Africa
How would this help the continent in the development of football?
The AFA platform at its core is concerned with assisting the development of grassroots football in Africa. There are millions of talented youth players across Africa who are not getting the coaching intensity they need to develop into top elite players. The platform will assist their coaches in delivering better coaching which these players need to develop.
How important is data analytics in the world of sport and in your case, especially football?
American sports has for a long time now been very data driven. The Hollywood film ‘Moneyball’ showed how baseball used data to build a successful team. But to your question, data has become very important in football over the last few years. More and more coaches rely on data to understand and explain the performance of their players. Coaches such as Roberto Martinez, now the national team manager of Belgium, used data extensively. The market continues to get bigger because the margins between victory and defeat have become so narrow.
You’re also launching a CSR arm of AFA. Can you tell us more about that?
The CSR arm of AFA is there to enable us get to the grassroots and deliver some social programmes, and leveraging the pulling power of football.
The CSR arm of AFA is there to enable us get to the grassroots and deliver some social programmes, and leveraging the pulling power of football. Football is probably the only sport in the world that is capable of mending divisions; we have seen instances where fighting communities put aside arguments just to watch a game of football together. So for us, we would like to leverage this unique aura of football to bring social change at the grassroots level, in the form of initiative tackling issues around healthcare and sanitation to name a couple.
Africa has a connotation of being a difficult market to break into and to work in. Have you found that to be true thus far?
Historically, this narrative held true. However the landscape in Africa is changing, especially with the advancement of technology. There are a lot more tech start-ups springing up in various parts of Africa, providing innovative solutions to decade old problems that has held back the continent. So far, we have not experienced some of the bureaucratic challenges that have often prevented company and investors from pursuing business ideas in Africa….we surely hope that continues to be the case.
What’s your focus now to take AFA to the next level?
My team and I are actively working on developing the platform that will enable coaches across Africa at the grassroots to develop their knowledge of innovative ways of coaching youth players. We are also working on developing partnerships with football organisations with whom we can work to deliver our CSR initiatives across Africa. For any professional football club willing to partner with us, we are open to working with them to bring football innovation and development to Africa’s grassroots