Unlike elsewhere on the continent, clubs in Cameroon’s domestic football championships make very little use of the social media to either grow their fan base or to interact closely with the general football-loving community to either lobby for sponsorships or organize fundraisers.
However, a top tier club, PWD Social Football Club of Bamenda, who were declared champions of Cameroon’s 2019/2020 football season, are trying to break that myth. Headed by a young and dynamic President, Pascal Abunde, the club from the war-torn northwestern city of Bamenda, is not only planning to start up an online television; it is looking to exploit social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and WhatsApp, to create a strong nexus with their fans and make the club’s activities better known.
Officials of the Bamenda club, which braved the odds of a rugged football campaign - overshadowed by a ragging armed conflict in their region of origin - say they have put in place a dedicated YouTube Channel which will enable them to upload every detail of their activities. They say they’ll be putting up content such as training sessions, highlights of key matches, and other corporate club events - which may be of interest to their fans.
Stronger social media following for PWD Bamenda
The club media officer, Apongnwu Afeseh, told iAfrikan that the club management has embarked on a fierce campaign to recruit more social media followers, whose support they very much depend on for the success of the outfit.
So far, the club’s Facebook page has nearly five thousand followers. Its Twitter account, created only in August 2020, has already had a considerable number of followers. Both platforms constantly carry up-to-date information concerning the activities of the club. They also serve as a free forum where some of the fans air their views on issues patterning to their cherished club.
“PWD Social Football Club of Bamenda has been present on the social media since the last four seasons, but its presence was not very active. Recently, we thought it wise that in order to reach a bigger audience, and to ease our communication, it was important for us to get a Twitter handle and also extend to other social media platforms. This is because with modern technology, it is easier to reach many fans both home and abroad through social media platforms,” Afeseh told iAfrikan.
‘We want to stream all our matches live on YouTube’
About the YouTube channel which they have named PWD TV, Afeseh said they have plans of going beyond just posting video clips of their activities. “We are also looking at the possibility of streaming all our matches live through the channel so that fans who are out of the country or who are unable to make it to the stadiums, can watch from their homes or wherever they are. Last season, we broadcast our games through our Facebook page; but this time around, we want something bigger. We have already uploaded some content on the channel where fans can visit and have an idea about happenings within the club,” he said.
Afeseh called on the fans and would-be fans of the club to not hesitate in following any of its social media handles to be served with up-to-date information about the club’s activities.
Social media crucial for Cameroon football
The move by PWD Social Football Club of Bamenda to make the most of the social media is seen as exemplary in a country whose top tier football leagues is plagued by a myriad of difficulties. Football pundits say they believe approaches like these are crucial in helping spur interest in fans who have often preferred following up foreign leagues to the detriment of their domestic championships.
“Cameroonian clubs are coming to terms with the fact that they need to communicate more with their supporters and fans through every means available - and the society is one of those means,” said Francis Ajumane, a football analyst who did punditry for Cameroon’s state broadcaster, CRTV, during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
Ajumane said although PWD Bamenda has been doing a lot with social media lately – including raising of funds and sponsorship lobbying, they still have a lot more to do. “Yes, they have social media handles but getting a functional website is also part of improving on their digital brand. This should apply not only to PWD Bamenda but also to other clubs in Cameroon. They need to rebrand themselves and the way they communicate with their fans, starting with the digital media,” he opined.
PWD Social Club of Bamenda outpaced perennial champions and one of Cameroon’s richest clubs, Coton Sport (based in the northern city of Garoua), to become league winners when Cameroon’s football federation, FECAFOOT, decided to end the championship after a prolonged break triggered by the new coronavirus disease (COVIID-19). As champions of Cameroon, the club are due to take part in the 2020/2021 CAF Champions’ League.
In the last couple of weeks, PWD Bamenda has been in a training camp in the Southwestern City of Limbe, as part of their preparations for the upcoming Champions’ League season. They have also lined up a series of pre-season friendlies including one with South Sudan in the capital, Yaounde, on 7 October.
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