Rivers State Government at the weekend unveiled the state-owned Real Madrid Football Academy in Port Harcourt, which was constructed to promote professional football.
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, while inaugurating the academy, also unveiled the ultra-modern football training facility.
This was done in the presence of officials of Real Madrid Football Club and Rivers Government at the occasion.
Makinde, while speaking, said the Academy would groom the next generation of stars.
He said: “this project will allow the early discovery and harnessing of football talents in Rivers.
“There has always been great football talents from Rivers. Great players like Taribo West, George Finidi and Joseph Yobo. This project will create more stars”
Makinde said sports remained one of the greatest unifying factors in Nigeria, adding that by developing the Real Madrid Academy, the administration of Governor Nyesom Wike was promoting national unity.
He commended Wike for his commitment to the development of Rivers State.
In his address, Governor Wike said the unveiling of the Real Madrid Academy was one of the happiest events of his life as it marked the beginning of a new football era.
“Today is one of the happiest days of my life. Today, our dream has come to fruition by the help of God,’’ he said.
The governor said the state government resolved to construct a school and hostel in addition to current facilities at the Academy.
Wike said that 70 per cent of the students of the Academy would be from Rivers, while other Nigerians would form 30 per cent of the school’s intake.
“The money used to execute this project is from Rivers State. Therefore, Rivers money is for Rivers people. Seventy per cent of the students will be indigenes of Rivers, while the remaining 30 percent will be from other states.
“All Rivers indigenes to be trained in the Academy will school here free of charge,’’ he said. Wike said the people of Rivers deserved the best, and this was why his administration was committed to initiating and executing quality projects for the people.
Area Manager of Real Madrid Foundation for Africa and Middle East, Inigo Vallejo, assured the state government that the club would continue to support the Academy’s sustained development. He said after series of engagement with Governor Wike on the Academy, the club has keyed into it and would help drive the project.
Women’s Olympic Qualifiers: Nigeria Advances, S’Africa Crashes Out
It was a hard-fought win in Lagos as Nigeria secured a 1-0 victory over Algeria in their Women’s Olympic qualifying encounter early this week.
A flash of individual brilliance from Asisat Oshoala was enough to ensure Thomas Dennerby’s ladies claimed a 3-0 aggregate win, courtesy a lone goal victory on Tuesday.
Ghana built on a 3-0 first-leg lead at Stade Augustin Monédan in Libreville as they earned a 2-0 win over Gabon in Accra.
With the second leg win at Accra Sports Stadium, the Black Queens have advanced to the third round on a 5-0 aggregate win.
At Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos, Malawi crashed out of the qualifying series after a 3-0 defeat to Kenya.
The East Africans lost the first leg 3-2 but bounced back at home to secure a passage to the next round after a 5-3 win on aggregate.
In Harare, Zimbabwe failed to honour their second leg meeting with Zambia as players boycotted the tie in a protest over their unpaid allowances from the 2019 Cosafa Women’s Cup.
The unsavoury development saw the Shepolopolo, who won 5-0 in the first leg in Blantyre, advance to the next phase after getting a walkover against the Mighty Warriors.
Elsewhere, Cameroon were held to a 0-0 draw with Ethiopia in Yaoundé but they squeezed past the East Africans on the away goals rule after a 1-1 first-leg draw in Bahir Dar.
For DR Congo, they booked a ticket in the next round without kicking a ball following the withdrawal of Equatorial Guinea, having been expelled from the Tokyo 2020 Women’s Olympics by Fifa.
At Stade Mamadou Konate, Mali could not overturn their 3-0 first-leg deficit as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Cote d’Ivoire.
The result means the 2018 African Women’s Cup of Nations semi-finalists are out of the qualifying race after a 3-0 loss on aggregate.
In Soweto, South Africa became the biggest casualty of the second round as the 2019 Women’s World Cup side crashed out at the expense of Cosafa rivals Botswana.
Huge season in La Liga for Nigeria duo
With Europe’s major footballing leagues gearing up for the 2019/20 season – some of which have already started – the next few months will be a crucial period for two of Nigeria’s brightest stars.
For Moses Simon and Samuel Chukwueze, their performances in Spain will be closely scrutinised by all Nigerian football fans – and it is still uncertain what opportunities await this duo in La Liga this season.
Simon is probably the more settled of the two, as he embarks on a second season with Levante.
The Valencia-based club avoided relegation from Spain’s leading division last season, finishing 15th in the table and seven points clear of the dreaded drop zone.
The 24-year-old striker played 24 first-team matches for Levante during 2018/19 and is viewed as a long-term prospect at the club, having joined on a five-year deal.
Simon’s international career is also on an upslope having played in five of Nigeria’s Africa Cup of Nations matches during the summer – including the country’s narrow 1-0 victory over Tunisia in the third-place play-off match.
This made up, in some part, for his disappointment the previous year when he was named in Nigeria’s preliminary 30-man squad for the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia. However, injury meant he was unable to make the final 23.
Simon’s chances of collecting silverware with Levante this season is highly unlikely and, according to La Liga betting, the club are currently 2,500/1 with bet365 to lift the title.
Once again their main target will be to finish inside the top 17, so escaping relegation to tier two.
Around 40 miles north of Valencia is Villarreal, where Chukwueze is also embarking on a second campaign in La Liga.
The 20-year-old winger enjoyed a successful debut campaign in 2018/19, having completed a promising season for the club’s ‘B’ team in the Spanish Third Division.
Chukwueze netted eight times for Villarreal in all competitions, including one in a 2-0 Europa League victory over Spartak Moscow in December.
He also scored the opener in their memorable 4-4 draw with Barcelona during April, when the Catalan giants rescued a point thanks to last-minute goals by Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.
Chukwueze went on to feature in six of Nigeria’s seven games at the Africa Cup of Nations, scoring the opening goal of their 2-1 win over highly-fancied South Africa in their quarter-final encounter in Cairo.
He had made his debut for Nigeria’s senior team on November 20th, 2018, when he was named in the starting line-up ahead of their 0–0 friendly draw against Uganda.
Chukwueze was later selected in Nigeria’s squad for the Under-20s World Cup but Villareal said he could not play in both this competition and the Africa Cup of Nations during the same close-season period.
As for his chances of winning a medal this forthcoming season; they are certainly better than Simon’s but still an unlikely prospect.
Villareal are ranked as the sixth-best bet for the La Liga title in 2019/20, rated 250/1 with bet365, but, once again, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid head the market by quite some distance.
Real Madrid Academy Ready To Groom Stars
The Real Madrid Football Academy, initiated and developed by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, is now set to start the grooming of international football stars, following the completion of the facility in Port Harcourt.
The President of Confederation of African Football (CAF), Ahmad Ahmad laid the foundation stone on May 28, 2018 after the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike reached agreement with officials of Real Madrid Football Club.
Wike and officials of Real Madrid Football Club addressed the sporting media at the Government House, Port Harcourt to kick-start the initiative to develop football.
The governor had earlier cemented the construction of Real Madrid Football Academy in Port Harcourt after meeting with officials in Spain.
Today, the Real Madrid Football Academy is set for operation. All the facilities have been completed by the contractors. The coaching and other technical staff have been trained in Madrid.
Wike had directed the admission of all the players of Banham Model Primary School Port Harcourt into the Real Madrid Football Academy when the Academy opens later in the year.
Banham Model Primary School won this year’s Channels Television Kids Cup.
Further admissions are ongoing.
Representative of Ministry of Sports at the Real Madrid Football Academy Project Site, Mr Allwell Braide said that the contractor has done well.
He said that the football academy is ready, awaiting commissioning by the Rivers State governor.
He said that the administrative building, classrooms, football training field and the basketball court have been completed.
Mr Sunday Odungweru said that the Real Madrid Football Academy will give Rivers youths the opportunity to excel.
He said the institution will create the platform for football lovers in the South-South and South-East to interact for the development of the game, which will lead to the emergence of new international stars.
Head Coach of S. K. E. Football Club, Port Harcourt, Mr Tunde Sanni said that the Real Madrid Football Academy will make youths to be more committed to life as they now have an avenue to become super stars and millionaires.
He said: “It is a good gesture from Governor Wike. We want him to maintain it. The very best of footballers can emerge from the Academy. Even after his time in government, we will remember him”.
A football administrator, Frank Baridakara described the completion of the Real Madrid Football Academy as a dream come true for Rivers State.
He said the Academy will boost sports development in Rivers State.
“Graduates from the Academy will make the state proud. They will excel in international football. This Academy will produce the likes of Ronaldo that we have been hearing about”, he said.
Chinonso Uka said that the Rivers State governor’s initiative has developed a platform for more youths to be groomed as successful professional footballers.
A player, Musa Kundi said that by building the Real Madrid Football Academy, Governor Wike has encouraged upcoming footballers to aspire to the highest level.
He said that the Academy will create the avenue for Rivers youths to become International Stars.
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