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Southampton FC open Saint Lagos Academy in Nigeria

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Global Development Manager, Southampton Football Club, Matthew Sanger (left); Director, School Sport Directorate, Lagos State Sports Commission, Dr. Oluyomi Oluwasanmi; Project Coordinator, Saints Lagos Football Academy, Ashiwe Anthony and Director, Goal Centre, Tosin Osunkoya during the unveiling of Southampton Football Club’s academy, Saints Lagos… at the weekend. PHOTO: ADAKU ONYENUCHEYA.

English Premier League (EPL) side, Southampton Football Club have joined the league of foreign football academies in Nigeria following the unveiling of the Saints Lagos Academy at the weekend.
 
The football Academy is an extension of the English Premier League club’s flagship modelled on Southampton’s football club academy in England, which has produced football stars in the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Oxlade Chamberlain, among others.
 
The Saints Lagos Football Academy is a partnership with Crimson Sport Limited, which is located at the Goal Centre facility in Lekki, Lagos.

According to the promoters, it will cater to both male and female players between the ages of six to 14 years with the aim of creating platforms to enhance the development of grassroots football in Nigeria.
 
Speaking on the academy in Lagos on Friday, the Project Coordinator, Saints Lagos Football Academy, Ashiwe Anthony said the academy was an affiliate of Southampton Football Academy, which known to develop great football stars that have made a name in different leagues across the globe.
 
He said the mission and vision were centred on discovering and nurturing the plethora of talents that are awash in Nigeria, noting that the ambition was to ensure that no football talent on the streets of Lagos goes to waste.

“It is our joy to ensure that we at Saints Lagos Football Academy discover the next generation of football stars that will grace the world’s biggest stadium and competitions.

We will spare no effort to ensure we are at the heart of football development, as we bring in some of that technical expertise and well-known methodologies that have produced world talents,” he said.

Anthony said the facility was structured and designed similar to that in England, adding that the learning days would be open both weekdays and weekends, depending on the time that suits the player, which will involve football and academics.

 
Speaking on affordability, he said the financial requirement has been taken into cognisance by the management of the academy, adding that with their sole aim of grassroots development, it would be accessible to all and sundry in Lagos State, regardless of status.

Also speaking at the event, the Director, School Sports Directorate, Lagos State Sports Commission, Dr. Oluyomi Oluwasanmi, said the project was in tandem with the focal point of the present administration of Governor Babajide Sanwolu, whose interest is in grassroots development where talents abound, as well as youth empowerment and engagement. 
 
She said there were a lot of potential and talents in children, which should be discovered, harnessed and nurtured to stardom to reduce social vices in the country to the barest minimum.

Explaining the project’s concept, the Global Development Manager, Southampton Football Club, Matthew Sanger said the academy would adopt the same curriculum used to train players in its flagship camp in England 
 
“One of the things we are going to share with Saints Lagos is our academy performance plan, which is based on technical, tactical, psychological and physical development of the player, so we will share and collaborate with Saints Lagos to deliver a world-class training programme here in the city of Lagos and educate the players and coaches as well,” he said
 
Sanger said the project was not just about sport development, but would include education to ensure the players were well-grounded to contribute to the world in positive ways, adding that the kids would also have access to the flagship club in England on a daily basis to see how things were done.
 
The Director, Goal Centre, Tosin Osunkoya said it was high time Nigerians stopped waiting for the government to provide everything, noting that citizens, organisations should make an impact, which is what has been done in establishing the football academy and the facility to house it.
 
He added that Nigeria had a long way to go in terms of contributing to football, noting that there was enough human capacity in the country, who require the right platform and environment to express their talents.


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