The Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission, Deji Tinubu, on Tuesday said the government would ensure the smooth operation of FC Barcelona Academy in Nigeria by supporting its plans for youths. Tinubu made the promise at the unveiling of the academy, named “FCBESCOLA’’, which is to be sited temporarily at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere.
According to Vanguard, Mr. Tinubu said football, one of the cardinal programmes the government wanted to use to encourage youth engagement in the economy would continue to get the desired attention.
“Gov. Ambode made a promise at the inception of his administration that sports will be part of his drive towards a vibrant economy in Lagos State.
“The state wants to use sports and entertainment to put itself on the world map; through youth engagement and economic prospects; not only the youth but also the entire citizenry.
“The FC Barcelona Academy in Lagos is the first of its kind in Africa and this tells us that when people talk about football in Lagos they are talking about Barcelona.
“The club as one of the biggest brands in modern day football will open its first football academy in Africa in Lagos and every child in the state will learn about their values,’’ he said.
Tinubu declared that he would personally fund the training of 10 children in the academy as part of his support.
“I will personally sponsor 10 children to the academy because I so much believe in their values as one of the most successful clubs in the whole world.
“The academy has also promised to employ 10 indigenous coaches and create many employments through the services that will be rendered in the academy.
“Our youths will get the right value of Barcelona FC which will be more beneficial the development of football in Lagos, Nigeria and Africa in general.
“It is a fantastic thing happening in Lagos, being a model for the development of sports and a trail blazer in economic drive through sports,’’ he said.
Speaking, Seyi Akinwunmi, Ist Vice-president, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), said the birth of the academy was a fulfillment of the prophesy made about five years ago.
“I predicted it about five years ago that Barcelona will come to Lagos to have a model of how to play good football and here we are to witness the fulfillment.
“I am happy that the academy is starting off from Lagos, football in Nigeria is back to its root and we will be having great ideas as a model.
“Our kids will learn how to play the pattern of Barcelona which is high pressing, high possession and quality football which we have been trying to emulate in our age grade teams. Lagos has been selected to be an ambassador of good things to happen in Nigerian football and it will also win a place on the world stage,’’ he said.
Akinwunmi also pledged to send five children to the academy. On the vision, mission and the model which the academy will adopt in its operation, the academy’s Sport Director in Nigeria, Lesile Oghomienor, said it would be a world standard.
“We are planning to have a 7,000 capacity academy stadium with all the sports facilities such as gyms offices and training pitches. The academy will also admit children from ages six to 18 that are good for grassroots development.
“We hope to do that within the next two years. We hope that in the next few years, products of our academy will win the U-17 World Cup for Nigeria.
The Project Manager for FC Barcelona in Europe and Africa Football Schools, Inaki Gonzallo, said the academy would adopt the same curriculum used to train the successful products of the academy in Nigeria.
“We have produced many world class footballers from our academy and we will use the same curriculum in the Nigerian academy.
“The academy has been successful in bringing up great footballers around the globe playing for big clubs, I hope Nigeria’s case is not far from that,’’ he said.
FCBESCOLA will open on Sept. 17 at the Teslim Balogun Stadium as a temporary site.