Across Nigeria, street football has a common element: Tires used for goals. This reality plays in the abstract on The NATIVE’s collaborative Nike Football shirt. Against a black body, desert sand tire marks reference the streets of Lagos, grounding the design as 100-percent Naija both in place and in mindset.
“We wanted to create something that wouldn’t look out of place on the field and in the dance. In Nigeria, the football shirt has always been a vital piece in anyone’s wardrobe. Taking inspiration from Adire (traditional Nigerian clothing) and the street football culture with the tire marks, we wanted to create a jersey that felt like home,” says co-founder Seni Saraki.
Founded in 2016, Lagos-based The NATIVE is dedicated to telling stories predicated on the Naija attitude. Its origins are in music, explicitly in covering Afrobeats, but as the outlet has progressed it has absorbed everything that surrounds the scene — fashion, skating and, of course, football.
Co-founders Saraki and TeeZee have close ties to grassroots football in Nigeria. TeeZee is responsible for Lagos’ popular semi-pro Thursday Night Football league, and Saraki has a football academy in Kwara State, North Nigeria. Both engagements point to the breadth of football’s rootedness in Nigeria and the vibrant emotional connection to the sport — something they believe will grow through next summer’s women’s competition.
“It’s great to see the Super Falcons getting the support of the whole country going into the tournament. We have a great mix of experience and youth in the current squad, and we are super optimistic to see how far the women can go,” says Saraki. “It’s a pretty tough group, but Nigerians never do it the easy way!”