FCBESCOLA Academy will benefit Nigerian football, says project’s CEO
Mr. Leslie Oghomiernor is the Chief Executive Officer of Blaugrana Sports International, a licence holder of FCBESCOLA Soccer School. His football academy offers students aged five to 18 years opportunity to learn the values and methodology of FC Barcelona, whose brand of football is known and well respected worldwide. The school has its temporary site at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, organised in conjunction with the Lagos State government. In this interview with SAMUEL IFETOYE, Oghomiernor spoke on what informed the formation of the academy and its benefit to the nation’s football, which is in comatose despite the abundant talents that abound.
What informed FCBESCOLA soccer school?
The idea of FCBESCOLA Soccer School was started, when we thought about the immense talents that our country is blessed with. We then looked for an avenue through which these talents could be harnessed and our conclusion was that the Barcelona’s youth programme would be an ideal programme. FC Barcelona has a world-class youth academy and it is rated higher among the best in the world. Next to it is the Manchester United’s academy followed by that of Real Madrid.
In putting up this together, we thought this was the best period considering what the nation is going through and the need to put the country back to its developmental football through the grassroots. We also realised that one of the things such a project like this does to our youths was to keep them away from the vices in the society. We are trying to build this academy more like an intuitive thing; it is not about the money, but basically to change the lives of our youths.
What will the country benefit from this Academy?
The gains of this project are going to be massive. Remember, we are talking about the Barcelona football academy model here. This is where students of between five and 18 years of age will be taught the methodology of Barcelona football. Obviously, you know that when FC Barcelona certifies these students they will become attractive and marketable to the world soccer industry. We are talking about scouts and clubs coming around to ask these players for their signatures to play for them in the European leagues.
They will do this, because they know what such academy teaches players. It is the same methodology and values of the programme that has produced notable players such as, Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Busquet and Pique. Even one of the best coaches in the world, Pep Guardiola, the coach of Manchester City, who himself was a great player, went through the same academy. So, we are going to give Nigerians kids and youths same opportunity to be able to grow in that same manner. And it is expected that they too will get clubs in Europe and even in Nigeria. The ripple effect is that our age group teams are going to be a lot better and our senior team will get better too.
What is the academy doing to get the right age of players registered?
We have put every mechanism in place to ensure that those we registered are within the age bracket. This will be done in reference to their schools just as it is been done in places of work. Everything as regards their age, character and other things that we need to know are going to be checked with their with their schools. We are going to find out when they started school and when they finished. That is why we will tell them to submit either their birth certificate or age declaration. We are also going to do a background screening by meeting their family members to find out some things about this students.
How satisfied are you with players in camp and how realistic is it playing for FC Barcelona?
One of the instructors did confess that he has seen some players with qualities, who can fit in the FC Barcelona academy. He said the talents of these players can even take them further to play for the FC Barcelona. We have a grading system that shows the quality of a player based on his ability and other yardsticks. I personally have seen special talents here in the camp, as you know that this country is blessed with abundant talents everywhere you go in a population of about 170 million people. At a time of our glorious years in the world of football, FIFA ranked us number five, I strongly believe that the BESCOLA Soccer School Academy will get us back there again and even help us surpass it. Everything strictly depends on putting the right structure in place from the grassroots.
Are the students going to be in the boarding?
The academy does not have a boarding system this season; however, there will definitely be one next year. We are starting with a day school, like you know some schools have boarding and some do not. For now, students will be coming from their homes after the close of their normal schooling. But I can assure you that we are looking towards that direction of students being in the boarding school next year. Also, the academy this season does not have a curriculum, but by next academic session we are going to run it on the school curriculum. Each season is going to be run for 10 months that will be for one season. We have divided the players into groups on how they are going to be receiving lessons. Some will be on the field two times a week, some three and some once. But the Saturday’s programme will be for all the students.
Any plan for youths in the outskirt?
For now, the Teslim Balogun Stadium will be the temporary site for the academy. Some might decide to relocate and live close to stadium by staying with a relation. For everyone to be on one campus, that will be next year. Hopefully, we are going to provide accommodation functions where students wake up every morning and go for training before going to class for their normal academy curriculum. Every spear time they have will be dedicated to playing football, a specialist school kind of. They will live in the hostel to learn and play football, it is not only going to be about football alone they are also going to taught on the values of hard work, humility, integrity. These lessons they will receive from non-football teachers, which will also be on the pitch.
There will be attitude checking because like they say attitude is altitude. If you have bad players, regardless of how good they may be, without the right attitude they may not get clubs to sign them. And even if they do, they may not last after a short while. Even if they decide to go to smaller clubs, before you know it, they will fallout and return back home. This all boils down to not having the right ingredients required of a player, who want to succeed. This is what FC BESCOLA wants to build in players; creating excellent footballers and good people who are not difficult to be managed. At least we all read about controversies that surround some players in some clubs, but hardly do you hear of such in any of FC Barcelona players.
What about dieting among the players?
Basically, the coaches are going to help them out in the type of food they should eat. The kinds of food that will help them perform better. Let us not forget that when players do not follow the right dieting, it reduces their level of performance on the field. If they go on a right diet it will show and the coach will know. Beyond this by the time the school starts full academy session, the real meal will be served in the canteen that is meals that will make them look healthy. For this year, we may not be able to do that, but definitely next season when all the students are expected to be in school.
Is there any plan of bringing Barcelona star to Lagos?
This is one of the major attractions to the BESCOLA School, in trying to encourage some of the young stars. This school is partly owned by FC Barcelona, it is within the network. We may have any of these players that went through the same Barcelona Academy come to Lagos. We might see players like Lionel Messi, Iniesta come to the Lagos BESCOLA Soccer School. Every of this school has the same logo, technical direction; it is not a franchise, but more like a branch. So, what you expect is that within that network they have players that may could be asked to go anywhere FCBESCOLA school is in operation.