Why do stories matter? Regardless of tribe, race or creed, why do stories matter to us? They matter because they project who we are as a people, a collective, and a society. They extend beyond the mundane understanding of events and serve as a medium of representation. They are our voice as we navigate and figure out our place in the scheme of things. Stories are capsules full of genetic material of our own humanity. Sometimes they reinforce what we already know to be true and other times they challenge our blindspots and tug at our ignorance. When we tell a story, we spark a connection - one that isn't just limited to the people in our present reality but to those from our past and future generations. It is how we've communicated from the beginning of time. Stories matter because they are as important to our humanity as the air that we breathe. They are the evidence that show that we were here: that we came, we saw, and we had something to say about it.

It is the pursuit of this ideal that has led us on this journey. As Africans and as sport fans, we are constantly searching for stories that matter to us. As fans, what stories shape sports today? As Africans, what stories make us proud or ecstatic or hopeful or introspective or inspired? What stories are worth sharing?

The passion to answer these questions led ex-Google/YouTube employee, Lanre Aina and his brother, Ladi Aina, to found ATHLST - a sports news and content studio that publishes first-person stories from a network of athletes around the world (specifically of African heritage). Through immersive and powerful editorials, video series and podcasts, we take sport fans beyond the pitch, track or court. By using short- and long-form content formats across multi-platforms, we give fans a peek into the backstories, personalities, lifestyles and passions of some of Africa's remarkable athletes who over time have brought and continue to bring joy, hope and excitement to our stadiums, TV screens and mobile devices. Our goal is to tell African stories, one athlete at a time.


Lanre Aina
Lanre Aina, Co-Founder/CEO of ATHLST

As far as I can recall, my most impressionable sports moment didn't happen as a spectator at a sporting event. Now don't get me wrong, as a sports fan, I've had my fair share of unbelievable sports moments - whether it was as a high-school student watching Nigeria pull off an improbable comeback against Brazil during the football semi-finals of the Atlanta '96 Olympics or as a graduate student (in Northeastern University) watching, for the first time, Lebron James take on the Celtics legendary big-3 at Boston Garden during a regular season game in 2007 or the not too flattering moment when I broke into a frenzy, hugging random bare-chested strangers in a small university auditorium (with no air conditioning) packed with over three thousand people franticly celebrating Julius Aghahowa's equalising goal against Senegal at the African cup of Nations in 2000. Like every other fan, I've had those moments. That's what sports does to you.

However, my most impressionable moment was getting a chance to be a fly-on-the-wall at a private gathering listening to some of my favourite athletes reminisce about their experience at the Atlanta '96 Olympics. In that room, we had Jay Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu, Victor Ikpeba, Emmanuel Okocha, Joseph Dosu and Teslim Fatusi. It was riveting and pleasantly shocking at the same time. I had never read or heard of any of the stories that they recounted. It was that politically incorrect, real stuff rarely shared with journalists. They spoke freely not just about the feel-good moments on their road to triumph but also about the challenges they faced. They touched on hotel evictions to corruption amongst Nigeria's IOC officials to the in-fightings and rivalries within the team which worsened as they progressed through the tournament. It was drama mixed with comedy all in one but told with the best of intentions. The exchange felt vivid and authentic and I went away wondering how privileged I was to have been in room. But what I couldn't shake was the feeling that I had somehow cheated other fans from an experience of a lifetime. Could you imagine how much brand love and equity a simple exchange like this could have generated amongst some of their most avid fans. From that day I began develop an itch to create a semblance of that experience, not just for me but for other fans out there.

This is why we founded ATHLST to give athletes a safe space to share their stories directly with fans in an immersive and genuine way. Unfortunately, today's media climate gives an incomplete picture of who athletes are off the field. The stories written about them are at times one-dimensional, touch-and-go and lazy. In fact, African athletes bear the brunt when it comes to coverage and publicity across the board. They are overlooked and their achievements understated which sometimes this limits their ability in the long run to build and grow their personal brands and marketability.

We want to change that. One story at a time, our goal is to help African athletes to evolve into multi-dimension public figures, credible role-models, adroit thought leaders and visionaries. For me, it was only a matter of time. With over 10-years working as a business development expert at Google and as partner manager supporting content creators on YouTube and finally moving on to establish my own production company, Content Garage, to help small and large businesses tell stories by leveraging digital tools, I knew one day that these skillsets would come in handy working to help athletes amplify their voice across the world.

For everyone who has been a part of this journey thus far, thank you. I look forward to working with you as we continue celebrate amazing talents and their achievements while promoting culture and good values all across sports in Africa.

In closing, I’m excited to introduce the rest of the ATHLST team. Here are their stories: