Hon. Emeka Martins Chinedu, representing Ahiazu Mbaise/Ezinihitte Federal Constituency in the lower chamber of the National Assembly, is of the conviction that the Academy, if established will ensure continuous supply of young soccer talents in Nigeria. This would provide a grooming ground for young footballers and inculcate professionalism, patriotism and sustainability in the game of football in Nigeria.
He stated that, football is one of the greatest uniting factors in Nigeria and that, the political divides and ethno-religious diversity of Nigeria are are always submerged by overwhelming support for Nigeria’s soccer teams at different categories by all Nigerians.
According to him, “Nigerian teams have consistently achieved glorious feats at international competitions. These achievements portray Nigeria as Africa’s undisputed football champion while Nigerian professional footballers have also become household names in Europe and Asia, attracting global interest to Nigeria. This has a far reaching political and economic impact on the way Nigeria is perceived by the rest of the world.
“It is however notable that unlike in other well-known soccer nations like Brazil, Germany, England, France and even African countries like Senegal, Liberia and Ghana, the grooming of football talents in Nigeria has largely been a private affair.
The following observations illustrate this lack of government participation:
There is currently no national football academy in Nigeria. This contrasts with other soccer nations in Africa, South America and Europe.
“The existent football academies such as Pepsi Football Academy, Papilo Football Academy, Football College Abuja, Midas Football Academy and Siaone Soccer Academy are all privately owned.
The only government – owned football academy, Kwara Football Academy, is owned by the Kwara State government.
A majority of Nigeria’s soccer talents drop out of school in a bid to make it through the profession.
“A good number of Nigeria’s football talents do not have access to international football agents and do not get befitting contract deals as they lack an academy mentorship.
“The National Football Academy will have the following advantages:
An institution to groom young soccer talents at the national level would be advantageous in so many ways.
“The academy would become a gold standard for the privately run football academies. This would have positive impact on the personal development of young trainees from across the country.
The academy shall be directly involved in scouting for talents at community, local government and state levels and thus provide opportunities for youths who have no access to the privately run academies.
“The academy would become a formation ground for young soccer talents, who in addition to football, would receive education and training on leadership, patriotism, law and order as well as investment planning.
“This bill if passed into law, would ensure an entrenched grassroots sports development and enhance government participation in an aspect of Nigerian life that has contributed much to the unity and international image of the country.
“While the institution will be essential to the development of football in Nigeria and ensure better mentorship of football youngsters and the cultivation of a culture of patriotism and national pride, if given the needed endorsement for establishment.”