On Monday, February 22nd, the FC Barcelona of Spain received a big welcome from Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, regarding its decision to set up a football academy in Lagos. This would be the first of its kind in Africa as a whole and Mr. Ambode is excited to be part of that development. He admitted this while receiving the senior management staff of the football club, at the Lagos House, Alausa.
The governor said this new project was in line with his administration’s philosophy for sports development. He pledged maximum support of the government in making sure that the project kicks off and rounds off successfully. Mr. Ambode described the development as a historic moment for the state, saying it was indeed a thing of joy coming at a time when the government was still basking in the euphoria of the successful hosting of an international marathon.
Check This Out: Introducing Nigeria, As The New Hub Of Marathon Racing
Mr. Ambode said the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon was a major pointer to how Lagos could actualize its dream of improving the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the state using sports as a major instrument.
“This visit by FC Barcelona is coming at a point where I believe strongly that we have nothing else to say than to say we are committed to this partnership because we know it will give us the first FCBEscola in Africa. I was made to understand that this is the first of its kind in Africa and so, Lagos is priding itself as a major receptor of the next academy to be established in Africa,” he said.
The governor emphasized on the importance of sports to integration and development, saying it is the future of service to create a platform for youth employment and youth engagement in Lagos. Mr. Ambode also said he would give his the full support to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) in hosting the first ever Beach Soccer African Nations Cup in Lagos, which is scheduled to hold between Dec. 10 and 23, 2016.
Pau Vilanovai Vila-Abadal, Director of Business and Member of FC Barcelona Management Board, who led the team, thanked Mr. Ambode for supporting them so far in actualizing the project. He said FC Barcelona decided to establish an academy in Lagos due to the impressive population of the state, and the opportunity to share the philosophy of the team with the state. On his part, Oscar Grau, Worldwide Director of Barcelona Academy, said it was indeed a big honour for the club to establish its academy in Lagos as many of the big names in the team started from such academy.
Players like Messi, Iniesta, Sergio Busquet, Pique, among others, all started from such an academy, which has an excellent reputation of instilling great virtues in footballers apart from football skills and education. He added that through the academy the club also aimed to raise excellent players for Nigeria and that the core values of the club included efforts, team work, humility and respect.