Nigeria's World Cup Uniform Brings National Identity Onto the Global Stage

Photo: Shaun Brooks / Action Plus via Getty Images

The World Cup has begun in full swing, and aside from the incredible football being played, one of the most talked-about subjects has been the uniform, or kit, that these world-famous players are wearing.

Arguably the most unique of these kits is that of the Nigerian national team. The kit is in the green and white of the Nigerian national flag and has created quite a stir among football fanatics and fashion lovers alike.

Nigerian national flag / Photo: news.wikinut.com

In designing the kit, Nike's manufacturers aimed  to pay homage to the "attitude of the nation," building the kit around the identities of the players. The Nigerian design was brought to life with the help of Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Jon Obi Mikel - Nigerian footballers with inspiration from their heritage and cultural identity.

There is a distinct pride in carrying the colors of one's nation, and Alex Iwobi states, "It is always an honor to wear the white and green. To compete this summer is not just our dream, it is also the dream of our fans. Together, we all represent Naija."

This concept of Naija underlines the pride that the Nigerians have in their country and their strength, which will bring them far in the competition, looking forward with future-focused optimism, while celebrating the country's rich history.

Photo: Nike

This vibrancy is brought out through the beautifully designed feathered chevron pattern used all over the shirt, in green and white on the chest, and black and white on the sleeves. The chevron shape incorporates both strength and movement into the kit.

The kit is reminiscent of the shirt worn at Nigeria's World Cup debut in the USA in 1994, in the busy pattern, mirroring the vibrancy, energy and excitement of Nigerian culture.

Nigerian Uniform, 1994 / Photo: Getty Images

Dan Farron, Nike Football Design Director explains, "With Nigeria, we wanted to tap into the attitude of the nation. We built this kit and collection based on the players' full identities. We started to see trends in attitude and energy connecting the athletes to music, fashion and more. They are part of a resoundingly cool culture."

Photo: Nike

Three million replica shirts were pre-ordered when the kit was released, according to the Nigeria Football Federation, and sold out minutes after it was released for sale, showing the general public's appreciation of this beautiful piece of design, as well as the cultural background and significance it holds. 

Nike has, through Nigeria's 2018 kit, enforced the increasing appreciation for Nigeria and its culture by western society. 

Photo: Nike

 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a female Nigerian author has written multiple bestselling books about Nigeria and its culture.

By bringing Nigeria into western society through books such as Americanah, she and iconic Nigerian fashion designers such as Deola Sogoe have paved the way for the great appreciation that this kit has received and made people re-think their preconceptions about Nigeria as a country in the 21st century not just simply as an African country, but one that includes one of the world's largest film industries, global Afrobeat music and world-celebrated cuisine.

Peter Udida, international student and amateur footballer with Nigerian roots, tells Madame Blue, "I am pleased that this kit has enabled people to look at Nigeria in a different light. The perspective has switched from Nigeria being just another African country to one with mad creativity in the fashion sense. We've been put in the limelight in a positive way."

Photo: Nike

This kit has positively affected Nigerians worldwide, giving them a real sense of national pride that is now reinforced by the general consensus and it seems Amaju Pinnick, president of the Nigeria Football Federation, approves.

"A constant in Nigeria is an endearing love of football. The new Nike kit designs honor our federation's rich traditions. Moreover, they celebrate everything we relish about our culture," said Pinnick.

Take a look at the first reactions of Nigeria players Ndidi, Mikel, Iwobi and Iheanacho to the 2018 Nigeria Football collection here

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