Establishment of football academies geared towards discovering raw talents at their formative ages is the only solution to the dwindling fortunes of football development in Nigeria, former Super Eagles captain, Nwankwo Kanu, stated this during a football clinic at the mainbowl of the Ilaji Hotels and Sports Resort’s stadium, Akanran, Ibadan.
Kanu, who was on a two-day visit to the resort, urged well-meaning Nigerians and football administrators in the country to look at the less developed parts of the country for raw footballing talents.
The most decorated Nigerian footballer, popularly known as Papilo, urged every football-loving Nigerian to emulate Chief Dotun Sanusi, the Chief Executive Officer of Ilaji Soccer Academy, who has spent fortunes to set up a proper football academy.
“The facilities I have witnessed here (Ilaji Hotels and Sports Resort) speaks volumes of Chief Dotun Sanusi’s genuine sincerity for sports development in general and football development in particular. We need to pray to have more of the owner of Ilaji Soccer Academy for spending huge resources with a view to helping the raw talents in this community.
“Fine, we do talk about grassroots development, but yet all we do is to look for finished products. What we need to do is to set up a football academy like the one witnessed here, which will see to the proper development of our raw talents. I can assure you that football talents in every part of the country have been praying to have a facility like this.
On the hospitality of Ibadan people, Kanu stated that since he breezed into the city on Sunday afternoon, the people of the city have shown him genuine love and affection adding that the passion the people of Ibadan has for football has been translated to him.
“Ibadan is a very big city and I must confess that the people here have been very kind and warm. I can see that the people here are so passionate about football; there is no way you can talk about football in Nigeria without mentioning Ibadan.”
While commenting on the Eagles chances in the forthcoming African Cup of Nations, the former African Footballer of the Year stated that Nigeria has enough talents in the team to perform creditably well in the competition.
“We have the talents and we have had enough training to do well in the competition. Also, with the fact that other African countries are scared of us because of our potential, I believe the Eagles will do very well in this year’s African Cup of Nations.
Meanwhile, the management of Ilaji Soccer Academy, as part of their preparations to welcome Kanu into the resort, organised a novelty match between the Team A and Team B of its academy.
‘Papilo’ after the match engaged the academy boys in a training session while also tutoring them about the basic rules of football.
In his response, Chief Sanusi commended the humility and genuine passion for raw talents displayed by Kanu while at the resort.
“Now I saw first-hand why Kanu achieved so much in his footballing career. In him, I saw a star that is willing to inspire and nurture other stars like him for the country. We are very proud to have him I’m out midst. And like he promised, we shall be glad to have him again mentoring and tutoring our academy lads on how to become successful professional footballers like him.”