Beyond Real Madrid Football Academy
Often times, one’s character, vision and legacy are moulded by the level of commitment and passion he or she demonstrates towards a given issue, subject or cause. Since May 29, 2015 when His Excellency, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, CON, GSSRS, POS-Africa was sworn in as the 16th Governor of Rivers State, he has demonstrated an uncommon love, interest and commitment to sports and youth development.
It is easy therefore, to understand and appreciate Governor Wike’s exemplary policy thrust in sports in the State. This is benchmarked by his belief and vision that sports is a key sector that affects the youth and has the potential to not only engage them but help in addressing some societal quagmire he met as he assumed office.
Through sports, the Governor hoped to catalyse job creation, skill and infrastructure development and mobilise the youth of the State away from crime and other vices.
The premium Wike’s administration placed on sports was further accentuated by the N2.5b budgetary provision for the sector last year. It is pertinent to note however, that the unprecedented commitment of the administration is not restricted to the sports sector, as others, including but not limited to education, housing, roads, health, Urban renewal and others, have received robust intervention.
No wonder, Governor Wike was aptly named Mr. Projects, an effort to underline the massive projects he has accomplished in the State within his few years in office.
True to his cognomen, the Governor, only last year hinted at a capital intensive project, a football academy in the mould and practices of the famous Real Madrid Football club of Spain. This pet project is in liaison with Los Blancos themselves.
Less than 12 months later, Governor Wike has demonstrated that his Moniker, Mr Projects, is not misplaced as the academy is virtually ready to commence business in Port Harcourt. Today, sitting within the Yakubu Gowon Stadium is the Real Madrid Football Academy, a world class football facility, soon to begin the weaning of young football talents from Rivers State and beyond.
Already, a batch of young coaches and technical hands have been sponsored by the state government to an intensive training at the mother academy in Spain, preparatory to the opening of the Port Harcourt arm.
According to the former Commissioner for sports in the State, Hon. Boma Iyaye, the project is as a result of the Governors desire to bequeath to the people a quality platform for the identification of football talents, weaning of such talents and opportunity to express such talents within a world class framework that will open door to unlimited opportunities within and outside Nigeria. Furthermore, the academy would not only offer opportunities to kids who ordinarily would not be able to afford the luxury of a football academy and perhaps, waste their talents, but provide job opportunities to a number of people in the State.
The idea is to groom a set of gifted football players, who would not only live off their talent but with good education for a better, useful life and be prepared for another career after football.
Hon. Iyaye described the Governor as being very passionate about the academy which he believes would contribute effectively to changing the face and culture of the game, not only Rivers but in Nigeria as a whole.
Indeed, Rivers State boasts of rich football talents, especially at the grassroots level. With projects such as the Real Madrid Academy, young footballers in the State would begin to have access to a structured development.
But for the essence of the academy to be sustainable, government and indeed, Rivers people must look beyond the euphoria of its establishment. Conscious efforts must be made now to enthrone practices that would help make the academy an enduring legacy.
It has been disclosed that priority is not placed on using the academy to make money. However, with the benefit of hindsight of the fate suffered by most government’s establishments, especially, after the exit of the initiator, the football academy needs a legal teeth on ways of contributing to its survival. For instance, football has become a big business in which young and good players are in demand all over the world. Sportsmen and women (footballers) have become foreign exchange earners when they are sold to clubs. One would therefore, not want the academy to be taken advantage of and be milked by selfish individuals.
Again, it will be profitable to explore ways to put the academy to further use. While its primary role would be grooming young talents in the game, adding coaches’ training department, where trainers and aspiring coaches would be trained in partnership with the mother academy in Spain will suffice.
Again, there should be deliberate plan in place to harness the expected products from the academy on graduation, such young talents are expected to thread a smooth passage, already charted by the academy to Real Madrid Football Club, other clubs in Europe, Americas or Asia.
Interesting, River people have been showering commendations on Governor Wike for the quality and speed with which the project is being delivered.
For the President, Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, SWAN, Honour Sirawoo, the Real Madrid Football Academy, Port Harcourt has further demonstrated the Governor’s desire to launch the State among top sports communities in the world. People, he said may not realise the full benefits of what the Governor has put on ground but in a few years, when the academy would be churning out world clans players that will take the game to a different level in the country and beyond, they would sit back and appreciate his vision.
Other stakeholders, including grassroots football coach, Sampson Oruwari, hailed the project, describing Governor Wike as a leader with special interest in providing platforms for manpower development, especially, the development of God given talent for empowerment and self emancipation
However, the football academy is not, and should not be seen as a magic bullet that would provide all the solutions and answers to problems or challenges facing the game or sports in Rivers State.
The academy is only one of numerous infrastructure needed to transform the state into a sports haven, where young people with talent in different fileds would be at home to develop and showcase themselves. Going forward, the Real Madrid Academy is a commendable trail blazer that will certainly lead to more good tidings for the sports sector.
Without losing sight of the import of numerous international, national and local sports activities and events that have been put together via the magnanimity of Governor Wike, there still exists ample room to take sports to greater heights in the State.
With what has been seen of Governor Wike’s passion for excellence, to say that sports in Rivers is in good hands would not be misplaced declaration.
However, with the state’s antecedent in sports like swimming, basketball, handball, hockey, weightlifting, wrestling, volleyball and athletics, Rivers must not be seen as only a football loving state. While upgrading and adequate maintenance of existing football infrastructure are needed, other events, particularly swimming, boxing and weightlifting need more investments.
Though the academy is expected to be run by an independent management with technical assistance from Real Madrid, local authorities have important roles to play.
The onus lies on the Ministry of Sports through the State’s Sports Council to key into the vision and passion of the Governor as far as sports development and promotion are concerned. Such facilities like the football academy should neither be under utilised nor be allowed to waste, even after Governor Wike must have bowed out of office.
NPFL: 3SC End Winless Run …As Insurance Settle For Draw
Coach Gbenga Ogunbote and 3SC can heave a sigh of relief after ending their four-game winless run in the 2022/23 Nigeria Professional Football League with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Plateau United in Ibadan on Wednesday, Tidesports source reports.
The Oluyole Warriors have struggled to get results at home this season, and they found themselves behind after 29 minutes against their visitors in the match-day 11 encounter.
Samuel Ayanrinde, however, stepped up for Ogunbote’s side again, equalising before halftime, before putting them ahead minutes into the second half.
Defender Ghali Falke added the third for 3SC in the 59th minute, but there was still enough time for Plateau United to pull one back as the game ended 3-2. The result saw Plateau United drop to fourth on the table while 3SC moved up to seventh.
Meanwhile, there will be no change in the top-two as Group A leaders Bendel Insurance were also forced to a 1-1 draw by second-place Akwa United in Benin City.
In-form striker Osarenkhoe Imade was in the right place at the right time to poke home the lead for the Benin Arsenal and his eighth goal of the season inside two minutes, but the Promise Keepers levelled matters on the half hour mark through Cyril Olisema.
Elsewhere in Aba, Enyimba failed to close the gap on the top two teams as they dropped points at home for the second game running in their 1-1 draw against Nasarawa United.
League top scorer Emeka Obioma found the back of the net from the spot again to give Enyimba the lead and take his tally to nine, but the Elephants were undone by an Emmanuel Ogbole’s 76th minute equaliser. They, however, managed to leapfrog into third place, thanks to 3SC’s defeat of Plateau United in Ibadan.
NDSS Holds Inter-House Sports Competition …As Green House Emerge Winners
Director of Niger Delta Science School, Rumuola Port Harcourt, Emmanuel Egbuchiem has stated that the essence of organising an Inter-House Sports competition among students was not basically about winning laurels but to ensure that students develop the spirit of sportsmanship that will help them excel in all their endeavors.
Mr. Egbuchiem who made this remark at the 23rd Annual Inter-House Sports Athletic Competition of NDSS held recently at Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic Football field firstly thanked God for his mercy towards making the hosting of the Inter-House Sports Competition a recently despite the prevailing situation in the country, especially the challenge posed by the Naira design and the ongoing general election exercise.
Though, this years edition of the competition was held on a low key as a result of the liquidity of cash in the country, nevertheless, I must not fail to express my profound thanks to the Rector Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic Rumuola Dr. Sam Kalagbor for his approval and willingness at all time in supporting the NDSS in all her endeavours to host the competition which according to him was not easy to organize.
The School Director also commend parents for their untiringly efforts and sacrifices made to ensure that their children continued to attend the NDSS consistently even in the face of the current financial difficulties, not minding other skeptics and discouraging words from the mischievous ones in the society.
While commending the students of NDSS for being punctual in school irrespective of the long distance they covered in trekking down to the college, the Director equally reminded all the participants in the competition that what is paramount in the competition is the zeal and energy each of them put in the practice
On his part, the Chairman of the occasion Dr. Bobo Moses noted that it was not a contestable fact that the inter-house athletic sports being parts of the sporting activities organised every year in schools will not only help to bring the students together to work as a team but will also help to enhance their mental development to excel in their endeavours in life.
Eguma Pledges To Work On Players Fitness
The Technical Manager of Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt, Stanley Eguma has said that he will work on the players fatigue before next League game.
He stated that fatigue adversely affected his players performance in the Nigeria Professional Football League, (NPFL) particularly the game against Abia Warriors in the match day 10 last Sunday.
Eguma said this on Sunday in a chat with Sports journalists shortly after his side forced the visitors to one all draw in the NPFL at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt.
He described the game as a difficult one but expressed joy for securing draw at the end of the day.
“ It is a game of football. It was a fair game but it was a difficult one for us.
“We missed a lot of chances in the first half but I thank God we were able to secure a draw.
“ We have managed the fatigue in the team, you can see the result of today’s game but we are going to improve on our games subsequently.
“ We will go back to the drawing board and see what we can do in our next outing.
“ You can never tell today’s result was very difficult but we are going to plan to improve in other games”, Eguma said.
By: Kiadum Edookor
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