AFCON 2023 major highlight of my career – Young Noble

Lip-sync commentator, Simon Ekpolo, better known as Young Noble, talks about how mimicking football commentators changed his life, his AFCON 2023 experience and his love for Nigerian football in this interview with ABIODUN ADEWALE

What motivated you to go into lip-sync commentary?

It’s simply my love for football commentaries and commentators. It all started from my high school days when I used to call local games in my school as well as matches in my hometown, Aviara in Delta State between 2007 and 2011. Back then I used to prefer listening to EPL games on the BBC with my father’s radio rather than watching live games on TV. Fast forward to the 2020 COVID-19 period, I took a major step into the social media space to try and get recognition in football, so I started voiceover commentaries on football videos and started posting on my social media pages but it yielded very little results. Then sometime around August and September 2020, I got a little bit more creative and I thought about lip-syncing football commentators as a way to enhance my visibility on social media but still, starting it was really hard so I gave it a pause and continued with my voiceover, until after about six months later (March 2021) a closed friend of mine that knew about my plans to create the lip-sync commentaries called my attention to someone else (Arap Uria) doing same thing and I was like “wow, okay I had an idea about this earlier, let me do mine”. So since then, it has been nonstop.

How did you come about the idea of your costume?

I decided to do this whole stuff the funny way. The year 2020 to 2021 wasn’t the best for a lot of people so creating contents that bring smiles and laughter to the audience majorly inspired my costumes. I thought about doing it the corporate way but with that, the funny part would be taken off.

Have you met Arap Uria and how was your meeting?

We met for the first time in Ivory Coast during the AFCON. It was a beautiful moment and most especially for me because over time he kept on encouraging me even sometimes when I do get backlash from some people. He is a guy with a very good heart.

So how has this art helped you to fine tune your skills as a commentator?

There is a very huge difference between real time commentaries and lip-syn. Real time commentaries are more complex, you need to be very good with the use of English. I can say I have been able to develop myself quite well in it. I have called one major game in the CAF Confederations Cup for a Bendel Insurance home game and with that being my first major commentary duty, it was a major test of my abilities and I look forward to having many more.

Among the commentators you imitate, who are the one you have met and what was the feedback about what you are doing?

I have had a physical meet up with just one of the commentators and that’s Robbie Nock during the AFCON in Ivory Coast and it was an amazing moment. I have had direct interactions on video calls with Peter Drury, Jon Champion, Jim Proudfoot, Lee Dixon and I can proudly say that nearly all the commentators that I have created their voices have reacted positively to my content and they are so many. I wish to meet them all sometime in the UK.

What’s was your experience like at the AFCON, especially as a Nigerian?

It was my first international tournament and a memorable one as well. It was like a different world, getting to meet with Africa as whole in one place, getting to see the various football stars in Africa, I really wished the AFCON 2023 never ended. As a fan, I don’t think there was any Nigerian that believed in the Super Eagles prior to the AFCON than I did. Supporting from the stands was amazing, celebrating every goal and every victory with so much passion and belief. The AFCON 2023 will always be one of the major highlights of my football journey.

Growing up, did you nurse the ambition of becoming a sports star or you always wanted to be a commentator?

It was in between becoming a footballer and a commentator. I used to play football a lot when I was growing up and I was a really good goalkeeper. I won a lot of accolades in my hometown and my region, I kept a lot of clean sheets in games, lot of saves as well, evergreen memories but still in all that, I developed tremendous passion for football commentaries because I always listened to the BBC commentators with my father’s radio every Saturday and Sunday.

Do you have any other job and how has this craft changed your life?

No, I don’t. I worked as a hotel supervisor between 2020-2022 and I had only one option to make in 2022; quit the job and focus on my contents. I now wake up everyday self employed by creating my contents. I now have over a million followers on all my platforms. The passion for the sport has kept me going. In the last two years, I have worked with some top brands that really see the importance of my niche, from TikTok to PARIPESA, SuperSport, Showmax, Let’s Chat and BBC in the UK.

How can lip-sync commentary help the NPFL to gain more followers?

My passion and energy can do a lot, it’s something I can do and it’s something I will do, I think lot of people saw my passion and energy during the AFCON showcasing the beauty of African football, with same passion and energy I can help the league So with time it’s something that I will do. I think it’s possible if I really channel a lot of my attention to Nigerian commentators.

Which team do you think is going to win the NPFL this season?

For the title this year, it’s very tight as it has always been, I am a big fan of Bendel Insurance but I think Enyimba still have all it takes to win the title again. I have really been following the NPFL closely since 2020 and I think becoming better is a gradual process, the NPFL will someday be a major force in the football

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