The Ifeanyi Ubah led Anambra State Football Association, yesterday kicked off the Football Made in Anambra project with over 600 under-15 boys drawn from nine Local Government areas in Anambra State. The Local Governments represented were Njikoka, Awka North, Idemili North, Idemili South, Orumba South, Ayamelum, Anambra East, Anambra West and Anaocha.
The FIFA endorsed programme which took place at the Ifeanyi Ubah International Stadium was graced by the presence of the Greek Consular General to Nigeria, Lykourgos Antonios Kaplanis as he was treated to a colourful demonstration with the ball by the boys as the FC Ifeanyi Ubah anthem was sung.
Recall that the Managing Director of Westham United, Angus Kinnear earlier in the month flagged off the Football Made in Anambra ‘1 Family – 1 Footballer’ initiative by donating a whooping sum of 30,000 British Pounds to the Anambra State Football Association while promising to send technical assistance once the project hits top gear.
The project which is structured to unearth budding talents is billed to engage 50,000 children from 50,000 families and earmarked to produce at least in 5 Messis and 5 Ronaldos in Anambra state within the next five years. The first batch of young boys from nine local governments were given the opportunity to display their God given talents under the watchful eyes of Chief Mike Umeh, the former Chairman of the Anambra State Football Association and the Chairmen of the various Local Government Football Councils present at the occasion.
Also on display to Greek Consular General was the multi-billion dollar Ifeanyi Ubah Games Village under construction as Dr. Ubah took time to take him round the facility in a show of the management’s effort to promote and project sports as well as buttress the essence of meaningfully engaging the teeming youths of the state through active participation in sports culture and talent development.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Anambra State Football Association, Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, thanked the Greek Consular General for finding the time and deeming it worthy to visit the facility domiciled in the Industrial Capital of the state. Dr. Ubah stated that upon completion, the world-class structure cum facility will aid in the continuous harnessing of football talents for the youths in the state, hosting of national and international games as well as serve as a mammoth site for tourist attraction. Dr. Ubah also expressed thanks to the children who were on song, charging them to go home and do more with the footballs and kits given to them as he was eager to see improvements in their skills when their batch gathers again in three weeks time. “I am very excited, having witnessed what these young boys can do with the ball. We will make sure that they continue to grow and above all, reach out to more children. My advice to them is just to go home and engage themselves more with the footballs and kits we have provided for them. We believe that with the kind of investments we are making in football, we will able to produce the Ronaldos and Messis of the next generation. You can see that some of the kids already have their role models, some of them idolize Ronaldo, Messi, Drogba, Ozil, Kanu Nwankwo and Jayjay. This shows their focus and the height of their aspirations at this tender age and with proper tutelage, their dreams would be realized”. Dr. Ubah ended his remarks by thanking the people of Nnewi and Anambra at large for their support and prayers on the journey so far both in club administration and his quest to transform and redefine football essence in Anambra State and Nigeria.
The youngsters also expressed their delight at being part of this novel initiative, noting that this has opened a whole new channel to them in a quest to replicate the successes of their idols. “I am very happy to be part of this programme; I want to thank Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah for giving us this opportunity, especially for the footballs, the jersey, and the boots. I promise I won’t let him down”, Chidi Aghadi affirmed.
Highlights of the event were series of novelty football matches for the U-15 boys from the different local government areas present as Anambra East defeated Orumba South by a goal to nil, Njikoka lost to Anambra West 5-4 on penalties after a goalless affair in regulation time. Also the FC IfeanyiUbah ”Feeders team” took on the ”Trial (Screening) Team” to add to the glamour of the event while some of the under-15 boys were gifted with N10,000 for displaying a keen understanding of the game.
The second batch of boys from the remaining Local Governments will be on song in two weeks time as the Anambra State Football Association’s Football Made in Anambra gains further momentum.