No rivalry in world football has matched that between Real Madrid and Barcelonaâ€“from political andÂ ideological differences to signing the biggest players in the world and most recently, siting football academies in Nigeria
AÂ fter Barcelonaâ€™s experience with FCBESCOLA in Lagos last February, Spanish giants, Real Madrid, and the government of Rivers State recently signed an agreement to set up an academy in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
On Monday, Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, Rivers State Commissioner for Sports, Boma Iyaye, former Super Eagles player, Adokiye Amiesimaka and the Majority Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly Chief Evans BipiÂ took a trip to Spain to sign the terms and conditions of the proposed Real Madrid Academy that would nurture talents in Rivers State.
Wike toured training facilities of Real Madrid Football Club and met with officials of the club,Â football megastar, Cristano RonaldoÂ and Real Madrid Captain, Sergio Ramos,Â where further modalities were discussed.
Vice President of Interact Sports, Mr. Kazma and officials of Real Madrid led Wike and his entourage on a guided tour of Real Madrid Training Facility.
In a meeting with Real Madrid stars, Ronaldo and Ramos, Wike said that the objectiveÂ of setting upÂ the Real Madrid Academy in Rivers State was to develop stars that would rule the world in the nearest future
“We are using football as one of the key empowerment programmes for the next generation.Â We want to grow international football stars from a tender age. We willÂ tap from the experienceÂ and exposure of Real MadridÂ and their stars. ThisÂ is a project that will revolutioniseÂ footballÂ in Rivers State and Nigeria,” Governor Wike noted.
He assured that the academyÂ to be establishedÂ in the state will be of international standards and will take into considerationÂ the educationÂ of the children.
Ronaldo and Ramos lauded Wike’s commitment to the development of the game.
According to Iyaye, â€œthis will offer players of the state the opportunity to be spotted by Real Madrid and also to train and understand the ideologies and philosophies of Real Madrid.”
Wike on Tuesday met with the leadership of the Real Madrid Foundation as part of the requirementsÂ to establish a Real Madrid Affiliated Football Academy in the state.
Officials of the Real Madrid Foundation were led by Managing Director, Julio Gonzalez and International Area Manager, Rosa Roncal Gimenez.
The meeting which held behind closed doors at the Real Madrid Foundation Office at the Santiago BernabÃ©u witnessed both parties concluding discussions on the areas of partnership.
In an interview after the meeting, Wike said the deliberation went on satisfactorily, noting that the partnership has reached its highpoint.
The governor said the academy would help the state to harness the opportunitiesÂ inherent in football as it would empower the upcomingÂ generation.
He said, “This is the concluding part of the process of establishing a Real Madrid Academy in Rivers State.Â It is our dream to empower our youths through football. Today, you know that football is big business and one of the ways to improve the economy.
“This meeting is the height of our deliberation to get the Academy Started. We are happy that this has gone on satisfactorily.Â Rivers youths will reap the benefits of the Academy. “
The highpoint of the meeting was the presentation of a special Real Madrid Jersey for Wike by Gonzalez.
International Area Manager of Real Madrid Foundation , Rosa Roncal Gimenez, lauded the Governor for the initiative to set up a Real Madrid Academy in Rivers State.
No Nigerian player has ever played for Real Madrid senior team. The closest player to doing so was Mutiu Adepoju, who joined Real Madrid in 1988 but never made it to the senior team.
Adepoju scored 26 goals in 67 apperance for Real Madrid team B between 1989-1992. Real Madrid are the current La Liga and Champions League champions.