The word Naija has many uses. As a descriptor, it defines a certain future-focused optimism — one that has catalyzed a new generation of Nigerians to celebrate the nation’s vibrant culture. Use of the word requires attitude, even panache. It isn’t simply a stand-in for Nigeria; instead, Naija reflects a youthful exuberance, pride and fresh perspective on patriotism. To some, Naija translates directly to “the new Nigeria.” With boundless potential and an undoubtedly infectious palpable charisma, the squad begs fandom from anyone — interest in football notwithstanding.
Nike’s energetic collection for the Nigeria Football Federation is imbued with the Naija spirit. There are the requisite odes to the Super Eagles’ on-pitch success (the home kit carries a familiar badge recolored to honor the ’96 gold medal-winning "Dream Team") and tradition (as always, there’s a full green kit, though it’s now the away stripe rather than the home). But at heart, the looks are driven by a desire to channel a healthy reserve of exuberance.
“With Nigeria, we wanted to tap into the attitude of the nation,” notes Dan Farron, Nike Football Design Director. “We built this kit and collection based on the players' full identities.” Along with other members of the Nike Football design group, Farron dug into learning more about Nigeria's players, "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.”
That culture includes one of the world’s largest film industries and a burgeoning Afrobeat music scene (which has birthed a number of global stars). Naija fashion radiates, and its food is celebrated from Brooklyn, New York, to Peckham, London. In the United States and England, along with other locales with large Nigerian populations, the exuberance of Naija culture is resounding — spurred by family, friends and football. And with boundless potential and an undoubtedly infectious palpable charisma, the squad begs fandom from anyone.
“A constant in Nigeria is an endearing love of football,” says Amaju Pinnick, president of the Nigeria Football Federation. “When football is on, everything stops. The new Nike kit designs honor our federation’s rich traditions. Moreover, they celebrate everything we relish about our culture.”
The home kit pays subtle homage to Nigeria’s ’94 shirt (worn by Nigeria's first team to qualify) with its eagle wing-inspired black-and-white sleeve and green torso. Today, those elements are supercharged through an abstracted feather pattern and hyper colors that extend a power capable of turning heads on and off pitch.
Naija zeal extends further in the off-pitch portion of the collection. Most notably, there’s the travel suit — a tonal green floral affair with significant swagger.
Accessories, including bucket hats, add personality, and each piece is designed to be mixed and matched to preference.