One of the world’s biggest and successful football clubs, Barcelona is launching a football academy in Nigeria’s commercial hub, Lagos.
The Football Academy in one of Africa’s largest city is the first of its kind in the continent, the academy is modeled on Barcelona’s flagship la Masia Academy in Spain.
La Msia Academy in recent years has produced football stars such as Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi and Xavi.
It doesn't bother me because football is not only for boys, it's for everyone to play. I want to become one of the famous football players and be as good as Messi.
The project which is officially known as FCBscola Lagos, is temporarily located at the multi- sports, Teslim Balogun Stadium Complex in the Surulere, Lagos.
A bright banner of the Spanish football star, Iniesta can be seen at the entrance of the complex, including assorted big pictures of commercial advertising boards of Barcelona star players Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
Children between the ages of 5 and 18 years visit the academy regularly to get a Barcelona education in football.
There are currently about 400 students in the academy which cost a fee of $600 a year, they attend training at the school once a week.
Some of the students hope to make it some day to the prestigious La Masia academy in Spain and make big names.
One of such students at the academy is a young girl named, Imalashe Sulyman, she is one out of the three girls in the academy.
She said she likes to visit the place because it is friendly and fun for her.
“It doesn’t bother me because football is not only for boys, it’s for everyone to play. I want to become one of the famous football players and be as good as Messi.” she said.
The academy has been attracting children from within and outside Nigeria.
Barcelona’s partner and the school’s administrator Leslie Oghomienor, said they also have children from Spain, Taiwan, India, Greece and other Asian countries.
“This is a Nigerian fountain that is going to sprout. Like they say about great oak trees, it starts from a little acorn and that’s the acorn you are seeing right now,” she added.
“We are going to give them international exposure. We are going to Barcelona in April to play against other people so that they can see what we are doing. The world has to know there’s something good coming out of Africa in Lagos, Nigeria.”
The Lagos academy is considered an opportunity for Barcelona to tap into the abundant football talent out of Africa’s largest populous nation of about 180 million people.