12th August, 2010
There are many Football academies in Nigeria but only a few of them have what it takes to groom future stars for Nigeria.
There is no doubt that Nigerians are passionate about football and many parents would want their children to develop their career in football, but what seems to be lacking is a well organised football academy. An avenue, where their talented young lads can train and learn the rudiment of the game at tender age.
Although football academies are founded in Lagos State almost every day, only few of them can stand the test of time. Most of the academies lack the basic sports facilities and good football pitch where the players can train and display their talents.
But Staruf Football Academy inÂ Surulere is with a difference based on the testimonies of many young players who have registered with the academy.
The football academy, owned by the former Super Eagles Goalie, Peter Rufai, was established last year.
Because the academy has promised to groom aspiring youths to become world stars, many young players have leftÂ their former clubs to register with the academy
The players who spoke to GSG after their end of season party held last Saturday said they have learnt a lot from the academy
â€œWe players are really comfortable here. The academy has a big bus that conveys us to match venues andÂ we have a lot of jerseys for our training session. We lack almost nothing because the management is up and doing,â€ said Kazeem Abioye, who is the captain of the team.
Addressing the players and parents at the party held at Kernel Park sport centre, Surulere, Rufai said he was happy that over 200 players have registered with the academy.
He said Staruf has a programme for the young lads who want to make a career in football, adding that his wealth of experience during his playing days will help the players to learn the game fast.
â€œThe players are learning fast on the game, so we are coming out to take part in competitions like Obaâ€™s Cup, Boska Cup and other high profile competitions that can bring the players to the limelight,â€ said Rufai, who playedÂ for Nigeria in the 1998 FIFA World Cup held in France.
He also thanked the parents and guardians who believe in the youth programme, saying the management will continue to give the players the best throughout their stay in the academy
â€œWe are going to play a friendly match with Golden Eaglets and Flying Eagles very soon. We need to expose our players so that by the time they start their professional career, it will be easy for them,â€ said Rufai, who expressed gratitude to the Lagos State Government for its support .
Rufai, popularly known as Dodomayana by his admirers during his playing days, said the academy has been established in Belgium and Spain, adding that he is planning to establish in other part of Africa countries. He also disclosed that there is opportunity for good players to be sponsored to Europe for trials.
â€œIf we see more sponsors, we can take the team to participate in international championship in Europe. The players equally need international exposure in order to compete with their counterparts in the world,â€ he said.
Speaking in the same vein, coach of the Academy, Saheed Adeyinka, said there is a lot of improvement in the academy and urged the players to remain committed to the game.
Over 100 players were in attendance during the end of season party and some players were given various awardsÂ for their outstanding performance in the last one year