The trials of becoming Nigeria’s next star

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Over 1,500 youngsters took skills tests to get into the Barcelona football academy in Lagos, nevertheless the 1,000 euros annual cost was an even bigger hurdle for many © AFP / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

LAGOS, Nigeria, Dec 23 – Somewhere out there is usually a completely new Nwankwo Kanu or a Jay-Jay Okocha, nevertheless This particular is usually not easy for the thousands of pretenders to become Nigeria’s newest football hero to get a foot on the ladder.

There are hundreds of football academies across the country of 180 million people nevertheless few put their star-struck trainees on the road to a contract in Europe.

Each week, more than 400 aspiring heroes aged between six as well as 18 attend the Barcelona football academy in Lagos, which opened in November.

Football is usually king in Nigeria, even though the country has again failed to reach the Africa Cup of Nations finals which will be held in Gabon in January.

More than 1,500 youngsters took skills tests in September to get into the Barcelona academy. nevertheless the 1,000 euros ($1,000) annual cost was an even bigger hurdle for many.

The parents of Johnson Gbenga, 12, had to borrow money through their family as well as neighbours from the distant Lagos suburb of Badagry to get a place.

“They understood which there is usually nothing more important than football,” said the shy youngster who spends three hours on a bus to get to each training session at FCB Escola.

“One day for sure, I will play for Barca,” said 12-year-old Yacub Farouk as he kicked a ball in his tattered shorts as well as worn shoes.

“This particular makes me happy because additional footballers will be able to see which Nigerians have talent as well as which we can be the best.”

After Dubai, Istanbul as well as Sao Paulo, Barcelona is usually currently spreading word of the team in Lagos, business capital of Africa’s most populated country.

– Barca ‘vision’ in Lagos –

Each week, more than 400 aspiring heroes aged between six as well as 18 attend the Barcelona football academy in Lagos © AFP / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

Ten coaches watched over the young players at the Teslim Balogun stadium in a teeming district of the city of 20 million.

Blaugrana Sports International Limited director Leslie Oghomienor, who helped set up the academy, said This particular was a “revolution” for Nigerian football.

Most of the Nigerians who became stars in Europe — like Kanu at Ajax Amsterdam as well as Arsenal as well as Okocha — who made his name at Bolton Wanderers as well as Paris Saint Germain — learned their football from the streets.

Like many of the facilities in Nigeria, the Teslim Balogun stadium is usually not state-of-the-art. The worn turf is usually covered with synthetic grass. The paint on the walls is usually peeling.

Oghomienor insisted which Nigeria will see the benefit of the school even if there is usually a chance in a million of getting to one of the top European teams.

“We have trained coaches who will later enter the market. as well as we also have all the young people who will get to play here in as well as West Africa.”

Bernat Villa Gorriz, the academy’s technical director, laughed when asked whether the coaches had already spotted the completely new Lionel Messi.

“We want to introduce our vision as well as our way of training,” he said.

For Barcelona, the school is usually a way of looking for talent nevertheless also getting its name known from the globalised world of football where This particular faces intense competition with English Premier League giants like Manchester United, Chelsea as well as Arsenal.

All are setting up similar academies in Africa, Asia as well as North America.

Barcelona is usually not alone in looking at Nigeria. Paris Saint-Germain has signed commercial accords with two Nigerian companies as well as will choose 100 children to take part in a three day coaching session This particular year.

“While the Premier League may be more well-liked than the Spanish league, the trainee footballers are more than happy to welcome the Catalonian club,” said Gorriz.

Fans of additional clubs largely agree. “I support Arsenal nevertheless everyone’s got to start somewhere — you can’t choose your club at my age. You have to take what you’re offered,” said Okiki one of the Barcelona pupils.

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The trials of becoming Nigeria’s next star

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