Determined to make a difference in the manner football academies are managed in the country, a UK-based investor, Frank Peters, has hired a UEFA-licenced Argentine coach, Jorge Gomez to run his pet project, the Saphire Football Academy in Lagos.
The ex-Argentine player who has background in youth coaching is very familiar with the Africa.
“He has the capacity to take the academy to the set heights so as to differentiate Saphire Academy from others,” revealed the academy proprietor.
Speaking at an interactive forum at the weekend, Peters announced that it is his ambition to revolutionize grassroots football development in the country by setting example of how a football academy should be properly structured.
“I have seen lots of football clubs in Europe. After carefully studying them, especially their youth development models, we decided to come up with the Sapphire Football Academy. I am determined to make the difference because I have seen it all; I have seen how these things are run in developed countries and I will endeavour to pattern ours like theirs.
“In short, we have to emulate them all in our bid to give our young talented ones the best we can. It is my desire to set such tone,” stressed the businessman who also revealed that he has acquired expanse of land in Lagos to build the academy’s permanent site.
Although the academy is presently using the facilities of the Lagos State University at its Epe campus, Peters said that the parcel of land already acquired in Eleko area of Lagos is going to be developed in phases.
“The development would be in phases. We are working hard to move into our facility by the end of this year. We are planning an academy that would be one of the best if not in the continent, certainly the best in West Africa.
“Our main aim remains to give opportunity to the teeming talented young ones that do not know where to start to develop their God-given football skills. That is majorly my reason for coming into football,” the soft-spoken Peters stressed with glint of expectations in his eyes.
He readily admitted that his target class of players for the academy is secondary school leavers.
“Young secondary school lads that want to make football their career will be well taken care of. They will be housed in our ground and go to school from there. Football academy goes hand-in-hand with education; we won’t lose sight of that vital area.
“We provide health insurance. We don’t collect money from any player in our stable, rather we carter well for them by making them comfortable. We also fund, feed and perform other sundry duties for players during our screening exercise,” revealed Peters whose target for now is a manageable players at a time.
Amongst some of the other Saphire Academy officials who were present at the interactive session include, ex-Nigerian junior player, Francis Ogette (Sport Director), KC Okolocha (Legal Adviser), Nicholas Okoh (Asian Agent) and captain of the Saphire team, Andrew Ejiogu.