Do you know what's really difficult? When you don't have all the information to make appropriate decisions for your kid's football aspirations. Here:
- We will help you understand developmental football in Nigeria
- What are the goals and objectives of the different kinds of academies in Nigeria
- And how you can help your kid make the right decisions in line with his or her football aspirations.
At age 5 or so, your boy may start running outside the street to kick around football with other neighbourhood kids. And soon an older volunteer with such passion for the game, may begin to organize them into a street or neighbourhood club... Perhaps for the purpose of competing at inter-street or inter-neighbourhood tournaments.
This is how academy football begins in Nigeria. The older guy who may likely not be a qualified coach, may begin to teach young neighbourhood kids what he or she perceives of the game...of course, in a crude method.
What is Academy Football?
Academy football is a developmental football structured or unstructured to groom and build up growing kids who are interested in the game. It's all about learning the fundermentals...and then gradually moving to the more rigorous techniques.
Some academies are set up for the purpose of recreation, while some are to help talented kids to become more accomplished footballers or perhaps, to pursue an illustrious professional football career.
There are different kinds of football academies, but I'll like to share perhaps, the more popular ones in Nigeria today. Starting from Neighborhood Youth Clubs, Recreational football Academies, Career Academies (School of football), Professional football club's Youth Academies (Feeder teams), then the most recent, Football Business Academies.
As a parent, you should undestand the purpose and workings of the academy you are about sending your kid to...so you don't get disappointed, expecting the academy to deliver something beyond its capacity.
1. Neighbourhood Youth Clubs are unstructured kind of recreational academies, they are usually not licensed and may or may not have a coach. The players organize themselves...or a volunteer may decide to organize, fund and train the kids.
You don't need to look far to find a neighborhood club around you Royal boys at Ajegunle Lagos, Shiubi Olympics Akure, Star Strikers Abuja, are some of the popular neighbourhood club around.
Neighborhood clubs admits interested kids within the neighborhood but will choose the talented ones during competitive matches. The kids make financial contributions to keep the club going or sometimes sometime a philanthropist in the neighborhood will take up the financing.
The goal of the club is to represent the neighborhood in tournaments...training for these purpose as well as the actual participation helps the kids improve in their football.
Most of the last genetation footballers in Nigeria are products of Neighborhood clubs or School football teams. Quite a few of them went on to become accomplished professional players and some were called to the national team.
2 Recreational Football Academies are usually a pool of 6 to about 10 years old kids that train under qualified developmental coaches. There's usually no tryout, every interested kid of both gender can be admitted for a fee.
Super Kids Football Academy Gbaghalada Abuja, Greensprings football acadeny Lekki Lagos, Nike Kiddies Football Project Port Harcourt are some of the examples of Recreational Football Academies in Nigeria.
This kind of academy train either once or twice a week after school or perhaps, at weekends or during holiday. The purpose is to exercise the kids, let them have fun and probably learn the fundermentals of the game - shooting, trapping, passing, positioning, ball control...
The recreational academies doesn't play competitive games. Kids are allow to play at their own pace, strength and only minor techniques are introduced to the kids at this level.
3. Career Football Academy (School of Football) is a fulltime academy for talented kids between 11 and 18 years olds, who are being trained to become professional footballers. Career academies are licensed by Nigeria football federation (NFF)... well structured with approved curriculum as well as qualified coaches and instructors (before accreditation).
Kids come for tryouts and only the talented ones are selected for admission. The full course last for about 3 to 5 years or so... and players are expected to graduate and quickly sign into a professional club both locally or internationally. Therefore, during the course of their stay in the academy, they are made to play tournaments where agents and scouts are present to see their game.
Kwara State football Academy in Ilorin, Pepsi football Academy in Agege Lagos, International football academy in Abuja, are some of the examples of Career academies in Nigeria structured as a school of football
In recent years, players from such career academies are favorably positioned for selection into Nigeria U17 national team - Golden Eaglets.
4. Professional club's Youth Academies (feeder teams) are almost like career academies, the difference being that these kind are owned and operated by a professional club rather than a business entrepreneur.
The purpose being to teach these young talented lads the culture and the playing style of such professional club, with the intention to promote the high performing kids among them into the feeder team or sell them off to other professional clubs locally or internationally.
Apart from kids coming for tryouts to get into these academies, the club's scouts also introduces from time to time, some quality raw talents they discovered in some remote places across the globe. In most cases, some of the kids graduate to the feeders or B team... and the professional club begin to pay them some kind of remunerations.
Some international clubs like Barcelona has started Bescola Football Academy in Lagos; Midaajiti has FC Abiede Academy in Abeokuta; Paris Saint Germain (PSG) is about to start Iruka Football Academy in Onitsha...
Perhaps, the best example of professional club's youth academy in Nigeria is the City Of David (COD) Lagos... that has a professional team and various strata of football academies in its stable.
Most ambitious young lads prefer to join club's youth academies than school of football. The reason being that the kids feel a step closer to signing for the professional club in future.
5. Football Business Academies are like a post graduate institution of the formal academies. They teach advance football playing techniques - football intelligence and other competitive edges. Beyond the field of play, they provide football business education and teach the kids how to covert a role model personality for commercial benefits.
Football Business Academies are quite new in Nigeria and remain exclusive for outstanding talents expected to become instant super star at top flight football in Europe or China.
GreenHunters Sports International is about starting the GreenBall Football Business Academy in Oshodi Lagos.