Football or soccer has a huge fanbase in Nigeria. It is undeniably the most popular sport in Nigeria as well as globally. Additionally, multi-million Dollar sponsorship deals go into soccer clubs, as well as huge payment packages for talented football players. Thus football is clearly lucrative, especially in Europe and Asia. At the moment, the famous game continues to attract scores of young men (and women) who strive to partake of the global ‘soccer cake’ by enlisting in football academies. Do we have any reliable, popular football academies in Nigeria to train these teeming youths?
Also Read- Top 10 Richest Footballers in the World
The Purpose of a Football Academy
Definitely, there are well-equipped football academies with seasoned coaches on ground to groom young and aspiring footballers in Nigeria.
A football academy is a training camp or facility set up to groom and impart necessary skills into young footballers until they become professionals. It is also a training facility sponsored by a professional football club to train aspiring football players.
Such a football club must have scouted for, and identified potential star players who are then brought under their mentorship. By doing so, the player is properly trained up to the required standards needed by that club before he/she goes into an active football career in that club. Virtually every professional football player must have passed through a football academy.
Football Academies: The Requirements
Certain documents would be demanded from each candidate upon registration in a typical football academy. Virtually all the football academies conduct their registration online as we speak. These requirements include:
- original birth certificate,
- medical report (or certificate of fitness)
- educational results (if available), and
- passport photographs of both the candidate and his/her parents.
How are Football Academies Run?
Majority of the big soccer clubs in England (and probably Europe) each have their own football academies. However, not every football academy is owned by a football club. And that fact does not stop such training camps from producing star players either. Today we have football academies in practically every country, each with its own slightly different mode of operation. But the rules are generally similar.
Also note that not every player drafted into a football academy is guaranteed to become a professional player. Rigorous training of about two or three sessions in a week is involved. And players are required to continue their education with good results to show for it.
Young players are recruited into football academies at an early age, as early as from 5 to 18 years. There are exceptions to this rule though – some talented footballers do get discovered even if they do not fit into the prescribed age group. A parent or guardian may specifically request for his/her ward to be enlisted in a football academy. But typically, potential football stars are scouted and identified through their participation in local club events, or school teams. Because clubs normally recruit a network of scouts who constantly hunt for the next star footballer at every event.
Once a player with consistent outstanding performance is spotted, he/she would be promptly invited to join a football academy. Some football academies are free, while some require paid registration.
Football Academies in Nigeria: The top 10 Training Camps
Without further ado, let’s explore the top 10 football academies in Nigeria and their strong points.
Pepsi Football Academy
The Pepsi Football academy was set up in 2020 by Kashimawo Laloko, in Agege area of Lagos. Today, the academy has at least 14 centers nationwide, about 54 coaches, and has trained over 3,000 young players till date. The main sponsor of the academy is the PepsiCo company.
It is reputed to be the best soccer academy in Nigeria, with a record of producing top international football talents. Some outstanding world-class players who graduated from the academy include Isaac Promise, Mikel Obi, Osaze Odemwingie, Sunday Mba and Elderson Echiejile.
The academy is also known to sponsor some players on scholarship to the UK in order to further their studies.
There are two categories of registration for the academy. For ages 5 to 14, the registration form costs N6,000 (as at the time it was last checked). For ages 15 and above, the registration form costs N12,000. The academy accepts both male and female trainees.
Papilo Football Academy
Papilo football academy got its name from the founder of the academy, nicknamed ‘Papilo’. He is the famous retired international football legend, Kanu Nwankwo. Set up in 2000, Papilo academy is a highly-organized and reputable soccer training camp. Having played with outstanding international clubs such as Ajax, Arsenal and Inter Milan, Kanu Nwankwo has so far replicated his success story. He succeeded in transferring over ten players to international clubs – the likes of Stanley Okoro, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Joel Obi. Kanu has been recruiting notable international coaches (like Bryan Robson) to train his over 200 students at the academy.
The academy is located in Owerri, Imo state. Registration form for the academy costs N12,500 (as at the time it was last checked). The candidates of the academy are in the range of Under-15, Under-17, and Under-19 students.
Abuja Football College
Gabriele Volpi in partnership with Haruna Abba, established the Abuja football College in 2012 at Kano. Thereafter it was moved to the National Stadium in Abuja. Volpi is a licensed FIFA instructor.
The Abuja location of the academy also has a residential suite able to accommodate 120 students, as well as a college that runs the US educational curriculum. The intention is to nurture small kids particularly from poor households, into top football talents. The academy has other training camps in Lagos and Owerri.
Kwara State Football Academy
In 2005, the Kwara state government under the governorship of Bukola Saraki, set up the Kwara state football academy in Ilorin. The academy today is under the control of Paul Ashworth, a Swedish technical director with a track record of having managed professional clubs in Europe (such as FC Peterborough and Dynamo Kiev). Additionally the academy has seven coaches who are former international footballers.
The academy recruits candidates within the age range of 10 and 20 years, and has over 150 students from all over the country. Furthermore, the academy provides free secondary school education to all its players along with their football training. There is also a full on-campus boarding facility for all the students. The registration form costs N7,500.
Midas Soccer Academy
Midas soccer academy was established in 2006 in Ipaja, Lagos. It is supported by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and Lagos State Football Association. The academy aims to discover talented players that would represent Nigeria in international football events. The academy so far has indeed produced many international players. The trainees are exposed to scouts and football agents from across the world who put them on trials regularly.
The registration form into the prestigious Midas soccer academy costs N77,000.
Barcelona Football Academy
The Barcelona football academy (nicknamed ‘FCBescola’) was set up around 2017 in Teslim Balogun stadium, Lagos. The top-rated academy trains young players to acquire top-rated football skills on demand internationally. It is modelled on the football playing styles and training methods of the international club, FC Barcelona. The trainees are students within the age range of 5 and 18 years. As we speak, some 400 students from across the nation are under their custody.
The academy provides additional all-round formal education to its students, based on the Nigerian and British educational curriculums.
The registration form into this exceptional academy costs N13,500 (the last time it was checked).
AS Roma Soccer Academy
Established in 2020 in Abuja, the AS Roma academy was set up to cater to aspiring young football athletes aged 5 to 17 years. The academy aims to impart the special training methods and techniques of the AS Roma club. Both the club and the academy boast of well-built, world-class elite youth teams. Each player is put under the mentorship of seasoned local coaches and highly-talented technical staff to bring out their utmost best.
The academy typically organizes tryout sessions to identify and select promising players into the academy. But the candidates must first undergo screening sessions in their states of origin in order to qualify for the final tryout. The final tryout session with registration fees cost N20,000 (excluding feeding and accommodation).
SIAONE Soccer Academy
SIAONE soccer academy was set up in 2004 in Abuja by former Super Eagles player and coach, Samson Siasia. Reputed to be one of the best sports academies in Nigeria, the academy aims to give both basic and advanced football training in a serene environment. The academy, while providing an exciting learning experience to its players, is also on the hunt for exceptional football talents. The training camp hopes to develop its players thoroughly into outstanding players and individuals, ready for the professional world ahead of them.
International Sports Academy (Edusko FA)
The establishment of the International sports academy Abuja (also called Edusko football academy) can be credited to retired football legend, Chief Segun Odegbami. Set up in 2007, the academy offers both intensive sports and standard high school academic training to its students. The academy also offers training in tennis, athletics and basketball. The academy has other training facilities in Lagos and Ogun states.
Buruj Sports Academy
Buruj sports academy, a member of the Nigerian Football Federation, was established in 2008 by Rafiu Buruji in Ikorodu-Lagos. This multi-sport academy has provided a platform for aspiring sports athletes right from the grassroots level to receive thorough sports training. And that also, without discrimination or setting limits to what each athlete can achieve. The academy offers in-depth skill acquisition in a range of sports that include athletics, cycling, football, basketball, table tennis and lawn tennis amongst others.
The academy is well equipped in both sporting and medical facilities, and is supervised by seasoned coaches. Trainees fall within the age range of 9 and 22 years. And the training duration could take up between one and four years.
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