The academy, located in Safe Haven, Legina Estate, near the town of Adamo in Ikorodu, was established by Reverend Dele George of the small Saints Orphanage in Lagos in partnership with Daraya Sports, La Liga and Real Betis.
The Nigeria News Agency (NAN) reports that some of the young players, aged 10 to 12, along with their officials, were introduced to the public at the inaugural ceremony.
Reverend Dele George, in a speech, said the main goal was to remove vulnerable, abandoned or orphaned children / adolescents from the streets.
“We want to reform and empower these children.
“The academy will stimulate the natural and academic abilities of children / adolescents, while creating a safe environment for the maximization of their abilities.
“The academy will also enable children / adolescents to lead prosperous and independent lives as adults.
“The Little Saints Orphanage has, over the past 25 years, rehabilitated, reformed and reintegrated hundreds of orphans in Lagos State. The majority of these children / adolescents were adopted into wonderful government approved families.
“Children / adolescents left at the orphanage are currently engaged in academic and professional activities, including sports. They have become the pride and joy of our nation, ”she said.
George praised La Liga and Real Betis for associating his orphanage with the football academy, stressing that their efforts would improve the development of football in Nigeria.
Mr. Desmond Chiji, a La Liga Global Network representative for Ghana and Nigeria, said in a remark that the partnership will help in the search and development of grassroots talent, adding that developments will be done in stages.
According to Chiji, La Liga have struck a deal with the Nigerian Professional Football League where they just concluded a coaching seminar.
He added that La Liga usually host an Under-15 football tournament every year but could not do so this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said La Liga is a global brand committed to discovering and developing community talent.
“We want to speak the local language; we don’t want to be another league that just showed football.
“We don’t want La Liga to be made up entirely of Spanish teams. We also want Nigerian teams with different languages. “
He said the U-15 tournament held each year usually brought out the best of the teams, with the best players being chosen to go to Spain and train with some of the clubs.
Chiji added that La Liga has also partnered with the Spanish Embassy and different organizations to organize sports clinics and develop engagement with the Nigerian Women’s Football League, which is also important for talent development.
He urged the children to be disciplined and dedicated in order to reach the next level, and pledged to continue to develop community youth and women’s grassroots football.
Former Super Eagles player Mutiu Adepoju praised the partnership with international world football groups such as La Liga and Real Betis, stressing that the academy would improve football development in Nigeria, if maintained.
He called for structures that would encourage the development of grassroots sport like the Haven Football Academy, urging the kids at the academy to be serious and disciplined if they are to do well in football.
Daraya Sports founder Adeniyi Segun said his team is involved in the project to improve sports activities in Nigeria, especially at the grassroots, where the needy live.
He pointed out that many sports academies in the city were not affordable for children of the poor, stressing that only the rich could afford to register their wards in such outfits.
“We came to Nigeria to reach out to the poor and help them realize their dream of becoming great footballers and also to get an education.
“The long-term goal of the partnership is to raise awareness of basic sports education and provide access to quality training for those who cannot afford it,” he said.
He assured the coaches of their full support and expressed optimism that children would represent the nation for the next 10 years. (NOPE)
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