Football academies have taken center stage in the development of quality players for the under 16 and under 21 national teams in Nigeria. Football business entrepreneurs now establish academies to make profit from the transfer market.
Several professional clubs, especially in Europe, partner with brands and sports managers here in Nigeria to establish standard football academies, which eventually serve as feeder teams.
Let’s look at ten of these academies that are world class in terms of qualified personnel, facilities, exposures, partnerships, affiliations and indeed, their achievements so far.
No1, Pepsi Football Academy (PFA): Established by Pepsi. PFA is the brainchild of Iain Nelson, the then African Marketing director for Pepsi brand in Nigeria. Today, the academy is managed by the Executive Director/ Proprietor, Kasimawo Laloko, a veteran coach who had managed Stationery Stores FC and Nigeria national teams in the past.
PFA had developed some of the biggest footballers in Nigeria today: Mikel Obi, Elderson Echiejile, Joseph Akpala, Dominic Chatto and recently for 2013 victorious Golden Eaglets, Taiwo Awoniyi.
Several opportunities are open for the students in the academy. Pepsi has already awarded 20 players scholarship to study in the UK.
Originally based in Lagos at Agege Stadium, Pepsi academy now has 14 centers across the country and has over 3000 students.
In its main center in Lagos, PFA has a privately owned residential college of International standard. The school run Nigeria secondary school curriculum at 4 Sagamu/ Abeokuta Expressway Orile-Imo, Ogun State.
No2, Kwara State Football Academy (KWFA): Established 2005 by Kwara state government. KWFA is the initiative of Bukola Saraki, Kwara state governor. The academy which commenced operations with former Nigeria national team technical adviser, Clemence Westerhof, is now managed by a Swedish technical director, Paul Ashwonth.
Ashwonth had managed many professional teams in Europe including Dynamo Kiev and FC Peterborough. Apart from Ashwonth, the academy has 7 other coaches, who are former Nigeria International footballers with coaching certificates.
KWFA has already developed players like Ahmed Abdul Taofix, who now plays for FK Vents polis of Latvia. Yaya and Okon were also in Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets team that won 2013 under 16 world cup in UAE.
The academy currently has 150 students (age 13 – 21 years). It has training center in a facility situated on about 35 hectares of land within Kwara stadium complex Ilorin. It has a hostel that can accommodate 200 students, 4 standard pitches, a gymnasium, 3 blocks of 27 classrooms and a medical center. It runs a combination of British and Nigeria educational curriculum.
No3, Abuja Football College (AFC): Established January 2012 by Gabriel Newton, founder/ FIFA Licensed instructor, in partnership with Haruna Abba.
AFC recently won FCT Federations cup and will be representing Abuja at the national level. It won the under 20 unity football competition tagged FCT 2013, beating years like Pepsi Academy, Kwara state academy…
AFC also got to the Semi finals of Croatia soccer tourney in July 2013, defeated Pro-clubs like FC Zagreb and Croatia’s under 21 national team.
AFC training center in an exclusive location at Wuse, Abuja Municipals Bwari, has residential suite that can accommodate 120 students. It also has a college with Wendy Cameron as the principal. The college run USA educational curriculum.
No 4, Midas Soccer Academy (MSA):
Midas Football Academy Nigeria was established in November 2006 to discover young soccer talents in Nigeria and the rest of Africa and make them better persons in the society, the academy is affiliated with the Nigeria Football Federation.
The Academy has participated in International youth tournaments in Germany, Denmark, Israel, South Africa as well as some local tournament in Nigeria and still producing exciting young talents with a dream to build a world class football facility for them in the nearest future where the players can combine high school education and soccer to reach their full potentials.
MFA has official partnership with soccer academies and youth clubs in Czech Republic, Portugal, United Kingdom and USA for their players to have an exchange program and tryouts throughout the year. Admission is always open all year round and they provide accommodation for players from all over Nigeria.
The academy can be contacted via it’s website at www.midasfootballacademy.com or its official Facebook page via this link https://www.facebook.com/midasfootballacademy.
No 5, Papilo Football Academy (PNKFA): Established 2001 by Nwankwo Kanu, founder/ Nigeria’s football ambassador, ex-international that played with Ajax, Inter Milan, Arsenal, and Portsmouth…
PNKFA has succeeded in transferring over 10 players abroad. Notable among them are Joel Obi of Inter Milan and Super Eagles of Nigeria; Stanley Okoro of Battista, the one fans call ‘Little Messi.’
Kanu uses his connections to bring in international coaches like Bryan Robson, Gary Smith… to train the students on short courses.
The academy has over 200 players in Nwankwo Kanu’s private estate at Egbu Owerri road. Though, the academy still train at Dan Anyaim stadium cmplex and Uzii layout primary school, but Kanu is currently building what may be the largest football academy in Africa, at Owerri – Port Harcourt road, behind Concord Hotel. The academy is open to Under 15, under 17, under 19 students.
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