Officials of Real Madrid Football Club and Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Monday performed the historic foundation laying ceremony for the Real Madrid Football Academy in Port Harcourt, initiated by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
The ceremony which took place at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt, attracted the President of Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, Amaju Pinnick; President of International Sports Press Association, Gianni Merlo; President, International Sports Press Association Africa, Mitchell Obi; International Sports Writers, Ex-internationals and top officials of Real Madrid Football Club.
Laying the foundation, President of CAF, Ahmad Ahmad, said the academy is not only for Port Harcourt or Nigeria, but for the entire continent.
He said the Academy will promote international football best practices in the continent as well as raise future stars.
Mr Ahmad noted that the timing of the construction of the academy is a proof that it was ordained by God.
Mr Wike who spoke at an international press conference and during the foundation laying ceremony, said that the academy will help in building a new crop of international stars across the country.
He said the Academy will be open to all kids, but with special preference to Rivers children, ”whose resources will fund the project.”
He said: “When we initiated this laudable project, people doubted it, making different cynical comments. However, today, this project has come to fruition. It will be a solid foundation for our children.
“We are proud to be associated with the best club in the world. Therefore, we will groom the best set of footballers.”
Governor Wike said that the project will be completed in seven months and commissioned for use by members of the public. He said children to be admitted into the school will be between 8 to 16years.
“Sports is a catalyst for development. What we are doing is for the interest of everybody. To tell our footballers, we will do everything to support you,” he said.
In his remarks, Mr Merlo said Real Madrid as the best club in the world will develop a new set of stars from the Academy in Rivers State.
He said: “This is an important project for the whole world. It will mould international stars who will shape the game in the future.”
Mr Pinick said that with the Academy, Nigeria will ensure the emergence of another generation that will keep the nation’s flag flying in the international football circle.
The General Manager of the Academy, Tareh el-Hajj, said that the academy is in full swing as the management of Real Madrid in liaison with the Rivers State Government to set in motion modalities to ensure it succeeds .
He said coaches and medical staff for the academy will be accredited for the commencement of the process.
Other officials of Real Madrid who graced the occasion include: Inigo Arenillas, Manager, Real Madrid Foundation, Africa/Middle East and Oscar Diaz, Real Madrid Fund-Raising Officer.
Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor, Electronic Media.
28th May, 2018.