Nigeria soccer legend Augustine ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha is getting animated.
A reimagining of Okocha’s childhood in Nigeria will be the basis of African streamer Showmax’s first animated series, Jay Jay: The Chosen One.
The virtuoso midfielder Okocha played for the Nigerian national team between 1993 and 2006 and let the country to Olympics soccer glory at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
His show will run to 13 episodes and follow an 11-year-old Augustine who dreams of representing his school at a prestigious football tournament with a team made up of his rag-tag group of friends. Along with his passion for soccer, he loves the animal kingdom, which bestows superpowers on him in return for his fight against illegal poaching.
The series is voiced by a Nigerian cast, led by Prince Unigwe (Glamour Girls, Samson in 2nd February) playing Jay Jay. Also cast are veteran actor Chinedu Ikedieze (Aki and PawPaw, The Johnsons), Samuel Ajibola (The Johnsons); pro-footballer turned actor Eric Obinna, Tinsel actress Mena Sodje, Lexan Peters and Pamilerin Ayodeji (The Father).
It’s already been quite the week for animated soccer series, with Deadline revealing yesterday Argentinian legend and 2022 World Cup winner Lionel Messi is getting the toon treatment at Sony Music Entertainment.
Besides Okocha’s exploits for Nigeria, playing in three World Cups and gaining 73 caps, he had successful spells for Fenerbahce in Turkey, PSG in France and Bolton Wanderers in the English Premier League. He also played in Germany and Qatar and retired back in the UK in 2008 after playing for Hull City. He is considered one of the most skilful attacking midfielders of all-time and is considered by many as Nigeria’s greatest ever player.
“I’m honoured to have an animated series that reimagines my childhood,” he said. “Jay Jay: The Chosen One is going to bring back good childhood memories as well as inspire young children who have dreams to be football players. I’m excited about the show and grateful to Showmax and the production team who worked hard to bring it to life.”
Nihilent Limited is producing Jay Jay The Chosen One in partnership with the production studio 5th Dimension as well as animation studio I-Realities.
For Showmax, the series is a first animated effort. The streamer said the show would “give Nigerian children of all ages the opportunity to see themselves represented in animated form which is positive, humorous and educational” and “enchant and motivate kids across our continent through fantasy adventures as well as the power of sport.”
“Not only is Jay Jay: The Chosen One another locally inspired Showmax Original, it marks the beginning of our adventures in animation,” said Yolisa Phahle, CEO of Showmax and Connected Video at MultiChoice. “This is a show we believe will find audiences globally and shines the spotlight on yet another world-class African achiever that we hope will be enjoyed by kids and the entire family.”
LC Singh, Nihilent Limited’s director and Executive Vice Chairman, said, “I always knew that creating a sports-based animation series for kids would be challenging and rewarding at the same time. The amount of work that goes into every single frame is immense, but seeing the final product come to life makes it all worth it.”
The news comes a week after Showmax owns MultiChoice teamed with Sky and NBCUniversal to launch a new Showmax-branded group. The service will be relaunched at a later date, powered by NBCU’s Peacock streaming technology and combining MultiChoice’s investment in local productions with international content licensed from NBCU and Sky, as well as third party content from HBO, Warner Bros International, Sony and others, and include live English Premier League football.
By Jesse Whittock, Deadline
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