We’ll make Agbarha-Otor hub of Nigeria’s grassroots football, says Emma Ibru
For 23 years, Emmanuel Ibru has been managing AS Racine Football Academy, one of the foremost Nigerian youth teams providing young footballers for the Golden Eaglets, Flying Eagles and the U-23 Olympics team. He is also the Proprietor of AS Racine Football Club, which features in the amateur division.
Last week, Ibru partnered with former Super Eagles striker, Victor Agali, to organise a youth football scouting tournament in Agbarha-Otor, a town in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State. The tournament tagged Victor Agali/AS Racine U-17 Grassroots Football Scouting Tournaments 2021 attracted thousands of young footballers from Ughelli and Warri in Delta State, as well as aspiring footballers from Bayelsa State.
For seven days, the players displayed their God-given talent before football scouts and managers. The presence of Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, added glamour to the tournament.
Apart from going home with various cash prizes, players and officials of the participating 12 teams were satisfied with the hospitality accorded them by the people of Agbarha-Otor.
With the enthusiasm that greeted the football scouting tournament in Agbarha-Otor still fresh in the mind of the people, Ibru says he has concluded plans to site a big football academy in the town.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Ibru, a former board member of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) says his plan is to make Agbarha-Otor the hub of Nigeria grassroots football.
“Initially, the Victor Agali/AS Racine U-17 Grassroots Football Scouting Tournament 2021 was slated for Ughelli Township stadium, but we were told to pay N1.2 million to use the facility. We considered the amount too high for a grassroots tournament and decided to move the tournament to Ibru College in Agbarha-Otor. The people were so happy, and the tournament was a huge success. Gernot Rohr took photograph with the Ovie of Agbarha-Otor and he has promised to come next year for the second edition.”
Ibru said his football academy is not just looking for players to sell, “but to have a pool of young players with their proper age. It will help our national team coaches in picking players for the Golden Eaglets and the Flying Eagles.”
At the end of the tournament, four players comprising two from Warri, one from Ughelli and one from Bayelsa made it to AS Racine Football Academy based in Badagry, Lagos State.
Great Avengers FC of Warri defeated 11 Planners FC of Ughelli in the final to grab the N150,000 prize money. The Ughelli team got N100,000.
Other teams that featured in the youth tournament were Kingdom Stars of Bayelsa, Golden Friends FC, Maro11 Speedsters FC and AS Racine.