- Real Madrid official describes the academy as the best in Africa, commend Wike
Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Rivers State Government has unveiled the Real Madrid Football Academy constructed by the Nyesom Wike administration to promote professional football.
Inaugurating the academy in the presence of officials of Real Madrid Football Club and Rivers State Government, Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, said the academy would groom the next generation of stars.
He said: “This project will allow the early discovery and harnessing of football talents in Rivers State.
“There have always been great football talents from Rivers State. Great players like Taribo West, George Finidi and Joseph Yobo. This project will create more stars,” stressed the Oyo State governor.
He described sports as one of the greatest unifying factors in Nigeria.
While commending the idea behind the Real Madrid Academy, the Oyo Governor insisted Gov Wike was indirectly promoting national unity.
Makinde thanked the Rivers State governor for his commitment to the development of Rivers State, adding that as a person who lived in Port Harcourt, he knows the high level of infrastructural development the state has witnessed under his administration..
In his address earlier, Gov. Wike described the unveiling of the academy as one of the happiest days of his life as it has marked the beginning of a new football era.
“Today is one of the happiest days of my life. Today, our dream has come to fruition by the help of God,” he noted.
He said that the state government has resolved to construct a school and hostel in addition to the present facilities at the academy.
Wike stated that 70 per cent of the students of the academy would be from Rivers State, while other Nigerians would account for 30 per cent of the participants.
“The money used to execute this project is from Rivers State. Therefore, Rivers money is for Rivers people. Seventy per cent of the students will be indigenes of Rivers State. The remaining 30 per cent will be from other states.
“All Rivers indigenes to be trained in the academy will school here free of charge,” he announced.
He said Rivers people deserve the best, hence his administration is committed to initiating and executing quality projects for the people.
Area Manager of Real Madrid Foundation for Africa and Middle East, Mr Inigo Vallejo, assured the state that the club would continue to support and sustained the development of the academy.
He said after series of engagement with Wike on the academy, the club keyed into it and would help drive the project.
While thanking the Rivers State governor for his commitment to football development, he stated that Real Madrid Football Club would provide the necessary technical support to develop the academy.
Earlier during a courtesy visit to Wike at Government House, Port Harcourt, Vallejo described the Real Madrid Academy in Port Harcourt as the Mother of All Football Academies in Africa.
He said Real Madrid Football Club positively responded to the dream of Wike to set up an academy in Rivers State.
He said: “Mr Governor, you had a dream to deliver sports programmes to the children of Rivers State.
“Real Madrid has responded to your dream and today, we have the ‘Mother of All Football Academies in Africa.”.
He said the Real Madrid Academy in Port Harcourt is the first by the club in Nigeria, noting that it has facilities that are of international standards.
Responding, Wike, thanked President Perez of Real Madrid for approving the setting up of the Real Madrid Academy in Port Harcourt.
He said the Rivers State Government has developed the best facilities to groom future international stars.
“I want to through you, thank President Perez for approving the development of a Real Madrid Football Academy in Port Harcourt. We have the very best facilities to groom new stars.
“This will be the very best. From the players that will be trained in this academy, some players of Real Madrid Football Club will emerge,” he said.
He said the final agreement for technical partnership and cooperation between Real Madrid Football Club and the Rivers State Government would be signed in the coming weeks.