Most sport academies exist as commercial outfits to make money for their owners at the expense of developing youth talents
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Dec. 31, 2012 @ 01:00 GMT
THE decline of sport in Nigeria is not an accident. It is the direct result of decays in sports academies in the country. To most Nigerians, sport academies in the country are not living up to expectations because those who run them are in the business to make money rather than to develop sport in the country. Some of them, who spoke to Realnews, expressed concern over the alarming increase in the number of academies in the country and the danger they pose to the development of talents.
Joe Erico, former Super Eagles coach, is of the opinion that sport academies in the country have deviated from the purpose for which they were set up. He said the idea of sport academies in the first place was to nurture and groom young talents who would represent the country in future.
“Sport academies are meant to encourage and motivate youth’s involvement in sport. Those who started the idea had a blueprint whereby every club including those in the lower leagues must have a youth team or academy to nurture the younger ones. Academies are the basic revolution in sport today, even in Europe where they started, all clubs still maintain them. That is why they are ahead of us in all sport activities, because they create a conducive environment for training of the youths,” Erico said.
He observed that some academies in Nigeria do not have fixed addresses or play grounds and that their operators keep moving from one place to another just to be relevant. However, he praised those running academies in the country today saying they are doing their best with the little facilities and resources available to them.
Erico therefore, called on the federal government to encourage the academies by providing a level playing ground for them to thrive. He also appealed to it to set up proper guidelines for establishing academies, adding that the current situation is not healthy for sport.
Adeboye Amosu, a sport analyst, also dismissed the activities of sports academies across the country, saying that those who manage them are selfish and doing it for business sake. He said the multiplicity of substandard football academies is unhealthy for sport development. Moreso, those who run them do not have the interest of sport at heart.
“What we see in Nigeria is individuals running commercial outfits which they call academies to make money. The problem about our football academies is that everybody wants to run an academy without knowing what an academy supposed to do. You can’t put up a team and charge them money with no future plans for them and you call it academy. One has to know what is good for his or her environment and people,” he said.
Adeboye explained that setting up an academy was not all about buying jerseys, balls and playing matches. “An academy must have a sound technical team which will draw up a long term programme for it. But here, anybody comes out to say he is a coach. An academy must have a laboratory, a gym and the players must be taught the rules of the game, as its being done in Europe and other parts of the world.
In Lagos alone, there are at least 53 registered sports academies as well as other academies spread across the country. Some corporate organisations have also joined in the talent hunts through sport academies. Among them are Glo Sports Academy, Airtel Rising Stars, Milo Sports Academy and Coca Cola Sports Academy.
Football academies over the years have played a major role in development of sport in Nigeria. Through them, some of Nigerian past and present stars like John Mikel Obi, Joseph Akpala, Elderson Echiéjilé, Onyekachi Apam, Osaze Odemwingie and several of the country’s finest footballers of the 1980s and 1990s were produced.