- As Orlean Invest vows to develop opportunities for Nigerian Youth
Our U-18 team, Football College Abuja, U18 Team has won the 14TH edition of international tournament ‘Maladen Ramljak’ in Zagreb, Croatia by beating Real Madrid of Spain U-18 team by 3:1 in the Final playes on Saturday.
The Football College Abuja, sponsored by Orleans Invest West Africa Limited l played the historic final against the best club in Europe, Real Madrid FC after drawing FC Copenhagen 2-2 in the first round, defeated FC Split 3-2 in second round and FC Sarajevo 3-0 in third round.
Abdullahi Sulejman was declared the best player of the tournament and highest goal scorer with 4 goals.
Manager and Coach of the Football College Abuja, Gobbo Renzo, ex -Palermo FC of Italy told Nigerian Pilot Sports that they are surprise at the depth of raw football talents that roam Nigerian streets.
The former Italian U-21 player said his experience working with Nigerian starlets in the last six years has thought him lessons he had yet to learn in his over two decades coaching various Italian Seria A, B C2 clubs ; namely that he should not underrate any player.
Gobbo Renzo said experience has shown that any player among an average of twenty or so that show up daily in training of the Academy, has the potential of being the next George Weah, Africa’s lone world best footballer.
“It is our cherished dream to produce the next George Weah and we are not disappointed with what we are seeing. On annual basis we see about 4000 players or more”, he said observing that the hunger and love these players display for the game is effusive.
Gobbo’s work at the football Academy has resulted in discovery of youngsters, among them Dele Alampasu, golden glove winner at FIFA 2015 U-17 World championship in Chile, and his mates in the 2013 and 2015 editions of Championship, including Orji Okonkwo, Amos Benjamin, Kingsley Michael and Abdullahi Alfa who are also reaping benefits of the Academy’s rich contacts in Europe elsewhere.
Aside the four players, the Academy has equally graduated quite a number of players to Europe’s top and second divisions, especially in Italy, Croatia, Slovenia etc. Among these players are Sadiq Umar and Nura Abdullahi of AS Roma, Gerald Chibueze, Kabiru Mohammed and David Nwolokor of HNK Rijeka in Croatia, David Okereke, Abdullahi Sulaiman and Awua Theophilous of LA Spezia Calcio.
Others are Theophilous Solomon, Jamiu Collins, Aliyu Mohammed. Other five players, he said are plying their trade in some African countries as well.
Gobbo Renzo whose rich profile includes a UEFA coaching license and vast experience that span across 12 clubs is supported by other expatriate and local coaches who have the requisite training and expertise to identify and groom the starlets.
He explained that the academy is not about football but about helping the youngster be a total person.
“Another special characteristics of FCA is that it is a social academy. The sponsors, Orleans West Africa Limited, are doing this as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) geared towards taking less privileged but talented players off the streets. This is different from other football academies where people pay money to register. Here everything is free; kits, education, training equipment, accommodation, everything “
Accordingly, Gobbo Renzo said that the academy is not only teaching football skills but how to live as person. He said at ages 14-15years the focus of the academy is to teach the players how to work for the team, live as a group and understand what it means to work hard for their dreams.
Graduates of the college, especially those that are attached European clubs, are also accommodated in Forster homes where they learn the language and other skills that will help them later in life.
“Everything about Football College Abuja from the management, staff, and amenities to the pedigree of coaches signifies quality, he said.
The college has justified the array of talents in college by the number of trophies it has won in tournaments in Europe and Abuja where it has won the Unity cup on several occasions.
With focus on developing the skills of youth football talents and pursuit of their educational qualifications, Gobbo said the remarkable success of Football College Abuja suggests that Nigeria may have discovered the secret of elite player development.