Rivers State seems to put practical action in boosting investments in grassroots with a trip to Madrid, Spain, at the time Abia State, which recently stole the show with the Abia Sports Grassroots Development Initiative (ABGRASOD) with over 1,200 participants, seems to go cold by failing in the main camping scheme in 2017.
Abia State government led by Okezie Ikpeazu had caused huge enthusiasm in the state when the state partnered a private sector consortium led by Praik Applied to create a mega-academy that admitted over 1,200 under 15 sporting youths with high hopes of camping every vacation period to groom those that would lead the state in self-paid athleticism in few years to come.
The high enthusiasm seemed to crash in July 2017, when the main camping failed to hold. The organisers have continued to give different excuses for the failed camping but the governor was yet to address the disappointed youths.
Now, Rivers State seems to take the shine as Governor Nyesom Wike has flown to Madrid in Spain with a powerful team to conclude arrangements to float an academy.
As part of the process to set up a Football Academy that would be affiliated to Real Madrid Football Club of Spain, Wike on Sunday afternoon (October 15, 2017), held preparatory meeting with officials of Interact Sports and Real Madrid Campus Experience in Madrid.
The meeting is said to be a prelude to Monday’s tour of Real Madrid’s training facilities by Wike and his team. Those in the team include the commissioner of sports, Boma Iyaye, former Nigerian international, Adokiye Amiesimaka, majority whip of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Evans Bipi, and board member of the Rivers State Senior Secondary School Board, Hanny Woko. Private sector partners are playing underground roles.
Governor Wike said: “What we are doing is in the interest of the Rivers State. This football academy, which will be the first of its kind will groom stars, empower youths and create wealth for the state. Sport is big business and my administration intends to empower the next generation through sports. That is why we are investing in different aspects of sports. By next February, we will host the African Wrestling Championship.”
Rivers State sports commissioner, Boma Iyaye, said the modalities for the establishment of the Real Madrid Affiliated Football Academy would be finalised on Monday, October 16, 2017.
Vice President of Interact Sports, Kazma, said the group was happy to be working with the Rivers State government to actualise the goal of setting up the academy.
Kazma assured football stakeholders that the academy would be run in line with international best practices to groom footballers that would graduate to become international stars.
Abia State officials had equally spoken in same glowing terms months ago to give huge hopes to numerous parents and their wards, but all that seems to have turned into distress to the masses. Inside sources said the Abia governor may however be planning to reorganize the scheme into an agency but others wonder the reorganisation would not be going on while the camping continued to avoid the huge disappointment and pain being felt by the youths.