F.C. Barcelona Football academy is set to land in Surulere. A statement by the Special Adviser on Sports to the Lagos State governor, Mr Raji BARCA2Tinubu, said it would enhance the smooth operation of FC Barcelona Academy in Nigeria. Tinubu noted that the academy has lofty plans for youths, both in Lagos State and in Nigeria as a whole.

The football academy, which is named FCBESCOLA, will be at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere. Sport, he said, was one of the cardinal programmes he wants to use in engaging the youths in the state’s economy. The Lagos State Government will use sports – along with entertainment – to put itself on the world map.

FCBESCOLA is the first of its kind in Africa. Speaking further, Tinubu said that he will personally sponsor 10 pupils. The Academy will also employ 10 indigenous coaches and create spin-off service jobs.

According to Tinubu, the goal is that “our youths will get the best value of Barcelona F.C, which will be more beneficial for the development of football in Lagos, Nigeria and Africa in general;”and added”: “It is a fantastic development, for Lagos being a model in the development of sports and a trailblazer in the economic drive for sports.”


            Seyi Akinwunmi

In his own statement, Seyi Akinwunmi, the vice-president of the Nigeria Football Federation, said that the birth of the Academy was the fulfilment of a prophesy he made: “I predicted it about five years ago that Barcelona will come to Lagos to have a model of how to play good football and today we have gotten to its roots and will be having great ideas as a model…” Lagos, he further said, “has been selected to be an ambassador of good things to happen in Nigerian football and it will also win our place on the world stage,” and pledged to sponsor five pupils to the Academy, including one from Surulere.

On the vision, mission and model the academy will adopt, its sports’ director in Nigeria, Lesile Oghomienor, boasted that it would be of world standard: “We are planning to have a 7,000-capacity Academy Stadium with all the facilities such as gyms, offices and training pitches”. The Academy, he continued, will soon be admitting children between the ages of six and 18. “The idea is that, within a few years, products of the Academy willcontribute to wining the under-17 World Cup for Nigeria.”

Iraki Gonzallo, the project manager for F.C. Barcelona in Europe and Africa, said that the Academy would adopt the same curriculum used to train hopefuls in Nigeria. The Academy has been successful in bringing up great footballers, some of whom play for the big clubs, including five-time world ‘Balon Dor’ winners Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernandez. He hopes that pupils from Surulere will grab at the opportunity. The F.C BESCOLA will open on 17 September 2016 at the Teslim Balogun Stadium as its temporary site.

Real United Academy Pioneering Grassroots Football in Surulere
Real United Football Academy was founded 10 years ago in Surulere to grow young football talent at the grassroots level by engaging youths and in the process keeping them off the streets. It has already produced talented players like Mike Onuwa (currently playing for MFM Football Club), and Onyiuka, who is currently plying his trade in Qatar.


          Nicholas ‘Thunder’ Ukadike

The Academy will be tutored by Coach Nicholas ‘Thunder” Ukadike, a former Super Eagles international in the mid-1980s famous for sustaining only one injury in his long career: “Today, I am happy that I did not have injury for the 19 years I played football, except for the one encounter I had with goalkeeper, Emmanuel Okala. It was in a match we played in Owerri between Iwuanyanwu Nationale and Rangers International of Enugu.” He added: “I scored a goal against Okala and when I ran to pick the ball from the net, he hit me on the face and I was out for some weeks. Apart from that, I never had an injury in my career.”

He formerly played of the defunct Iwuayanwu National F.C (now Heartland Football Club of Owerri) and Abiola Babes, the latter of whom he had nothing but high praise for: “The club actually opened my eyes. The sign-on fee was too much that I could not resist it. In addition, I was lodged in an hotel for several months. Those were fond memories of my playing career.” He also played for African Continental Bank, the current the champions of the National Stadium Football League.

Unfortunately, he said, funding has been their main problem, coupled with substandard facilities, as was amply justified by the parlous state of the pitch he was attempting to raise the next generation of Ukadikes. In the meantime, he enjoined the state sports’ council to make adequate provision for funding grassroots football because, as he put it, “that is the future of football in the state and, generally, in Nigeria”.


Augustine Eguavoen ‘Cerezo”

Ukadike rues his professional career for his fatherland
I encountered a lot of nasty experiences in my active days in football, but I wouldn’t want to discuss them in the pages of newspapers since I have committed everything into the hands of God. I played for many clubs, but with the exception of Abiola Babes FC of Abeokuta, the rest cheated me.

Talking about welfare, they treated me badly. For instance, when I got an endorsement and did advert for 33 Lager Beer in 1983, then, I was playing for the Spartans of Owerri, which later became Iwuanyanwu FC and now Heartland FC, the beer company paid huge amount of money that ran into millions for the advert. But the club collected the money and gave me peanut. When I asked questions, I was tagged a stubborn boy. The club management started to maltreat me and when I could no longer bear it, I left the club for Abiola Babes. Then, they would tell us to give our best for the country, but at the end, what did the nation do for us? Nothing! Nobody remembers us again. That is my grouse with the country. I dumped Green Eagles. When I was playing in the Green Eagles, our handlers were James Peter, Chief Onigbinde, Paul Hamilton and Tunde Disu.

Some of my teammates were Paul BARCA6Okoku, Alloy Agu, Willy Okpara and many others I can’t remember now. But I was forced to dump the national team because of the ill treatment that was meted out to me. Call a spade by its name I wouldn’t want to go into the details of what I suffered in the hands of different club because I wouldn’t like to mention names. Let the sleeping dog remain asleep. Mention the evils without calling names. When I was in the Green Eagles, most of our allowances were not paid, yet we would go to camp with our money. Then, there was a lot of politics in the national team and if you don’t know how to play the politics, you would miss out. We had no laid-down programme; all that everybody wanted from us was to win every match, nobody bothered about our welfare. For instance, when I was with Abiola Babes, my car was stolen and Chief MKO Abiola released money for me to buy another car, but the man in charge of the club then pocketed the money. When I realised what happened, I left the clBARCA7ub and went back to Iwuanyawu Nationale. When they would pay your sign-on fees, they would never pay it complete, people were cheating me everywhere.

These are some of the reasons I would maintain that none of my children would play football without first getting the basic education. It is after that they can decide on what career to pursue. If it is football and later it fails to favour them, with their certificates, they can fall back to some other things without being frustrated. I guess most club managers saw me as a school dropout whodoes not know anything, so they were at liberty to cheat me. Moreover, it’s annoying that Nigeria does not recognise her past heroes, who played the round leather game. If it were in other countries, people like me would be celebrated. I would want to be celebrated for my achievements while I am still alive, not when I die peopleBARCA3 would begin to make meaningless eulogies.

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