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Does Nigeria have football talent anymore?

Nigerians are fond of complaining about problems are hardly ever coming up with solutions. My solution to fixing Nigeria's footballing woes is

ACADEMIES, ACADEMIES, ACADEMIES.

For those who don’t know, football academies are not places where people are taught football but where young talent is polished. They get the best players at a young age (it varies by country) and teach them skill and technique. It is not a substitute for learning football on the streets or anywhere you grew up playing, its just a place where the skills you learn growing up are enhanced and were you get to learn how to play the game in a more structured manner.

In the 70’s when the dutch realized how far behind they were in football. The Dutch football federation ordered all professional football clubs to establish their own football academies, the most famous of this is the prestigious Ajax football academy that has churned out the likes of Johan Cruyff, Bergkamp, Wesley Sneijder and several others. The Ajax academy has been copied by several teams and one of the most successful is Barcelona’s remarkable “la masia” academy that produced majority of the world cup winners in the spain squad.

In the 80’s, when the French went through the same thing, they responded the same way but in addition to that they also created a National football academy which is now known as the legendary Clairefontaine academy. Here they assemble the best of the best from around the country and subject them to the best training with the best coaches in the game. T

There are two ways of developing talent, you can do it the Brazilian/south American way where the best kids are brought in from the streets or the playgrounds  of the ghettos at age 13 and trained or you can do it the European way where they start from age 7 and taught mostly academics while playing football part time. The Ajax model believes that it is not the amount of time you train but the quality of instruction during the training that is why they get the best trainers and coaches to teach these kids. Allowing the kid to participate in games on very few occasions prevents them from being more susceptible to injuries. During the whole process, some students are weeded out while some are brought in, then at age 16 when you are eligible to sign a professional contract, the best of the best are signed by the club, while the rest are let go.

The advantage of the brazillian/south american model is that they produce the most skillful players; players who are very creative and who can improvise because they grew up learning football on the street. The disadvantage of the European model (the same model that they use  in England and America) is that some of this academies tend to overcoach players at a young age restricting them from expressing themselves on the pitch and they end up being robots with no skill like Wayne rooney, Michael Ballack or Steven Gerrard as compared to the likes of Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Maradona, or Messi: this are the players who learned the game on the street first and went to academies that taught them to express themselves and be creative instead of beating tactics into there head at age 13.

I think Nigeria should emulate this if we want to become better. Pepsi football academy is a third world academy that is not going to produce the likes of Messi and co. Watching Kanu retire and realizing that our next best thing is Lukman Haruna is very very disconcerting.

For those interested in learning more about the Ajax academy they might want to go to this site.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/magazine/06Soccer-t.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=how%20a%20soccer%20star%20is%20made&st=cse

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@all, I am claping for this thread and I know we are going ahead on the success way of our Nigerian Football.

But how do we reflect on youths of the age; 19 - 22 years, where do they suppose to go for polish and upbring?

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When you say "technique" are you refering to tactics? because technique means skill and its something African teams don't seem to have a lack of. Also, the main reason why Ivory Coast got knocked out just like most African teams is the lack of quality creative midfielders. We seem to be producing so many defensive midfielders nowadays and hardly any attacking or creative midfielders and i attribute this to the European game. It seems that Europe is determine the kind of players we produce nowadays (tall/strong) as opposed to skillful, finesse (technically gifted) players, this right here is what is killing us. When last did you see an African playmaker playing for Real Madrid or Barca? They only seem to always get to be defensive midfielders and nothing else. I wrote on this issue on one of my earlier posts.

http://www.nairaland.com/nigeria/topic-455590.0.html

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syenite,

You are so on point. They have the same problems in the developed countries but the thing is that they also have lotttttttttttttts of local and amateur leagues for kids to play which we don't seem to have much of in Nigeria.

The problem i have with your assertion is that our academies are not world class, if you read the article on the link that i posted, you will see that all this academies i am talking about are producing world class talent just look at Barcelona's La Masia that produced most of Spain's winning team or look at Ajax's academies that produced Wesley Sneijder and co and how about Sporting Lisbon's academy. heck, let's not forget the Abidjan football academy belonging to ASEC Mimosas that produces a lot of Ivoirien talent. What Nigerian academy can boast of this exploits? Like i said, the streets or playgrounds is where you learn soccer but its the academies that polish it, if the academies are no good then the quality and the end products would not be good (just look at the talent of the super eagles of the past decade and you would understand what i am talking about. If the university that you go to is not good, chances are that the graduate would be of less value in the real world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Masia

http://vimeo.com/13230943

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/africa/3651059.stm

http://www.standard.net/topics/sports/2010/06/07/football-academies-teach-kids-ivory-coast

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Well said Davidif,

I think our opinions are pointing towards the same direction. We need to develop the game at the grass roots and then Establish world class academies to polish our raw talents and get them to learn basic football techniques.

The difference between teams from Africa and Europe is just techniques! If not for techniques why would a team like Ivory Coast crash out @ the group stage of the world cup even when it was glaring that they had the best assemblage of players in that group.

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My brother yes academies.But the fundamental problem is that our kids and youths now spend more time watching football on TV rather than playing football.

If it's all about academies we have several of them in this country.

From what age do kids start playing football with other kids?Ans:-from about 3 or 4yrs of age.That is the age kids start learning how to play football.

Believe me or not, any kid that can't play football at age 10 cannot end up as a professional footballer.

This implies that the foundation age is 3-10yrs. Academies yes Academies but you also said academies don't teach people how to play the game they only polish their skills and teach them techniques.Academies are mainly for kids of secondary school age.

Know that a child that never played football uptill he is 10yrs old can never polish any skills or learn any techniques from which ever academy.

Now my point is as I said before kids spend more time watching than playing football.

In the golden 80's and part of 90's (which was when we produced the best youth teams) most of us used to play football on the streets.We had inter-street tourneys with jessies and trophy plus price money.

Saturdays were fully utilized for playing of football.

Today kids spend the whole weekend watching the EPL!

Another point is that in the 80's and early 90's most kids attended govt schools with large play grounds for football and other sports.Today private schools have taken over with little space for kids to play

Also all the former playgrounds in Lagos and other states have been converted to markets and motor parks.

Children of today spend more time behind their father's gates with the instruction that no one must play outside.

With all these prevailent factors today most kids of 3-10 yrs can't really play football.If this trend is not checked in 5-10 yrs time Nigerian football would be dead and buried.

An ex-players I played on the streets with in the 80's was Emmanuel Amuneke.We then had a team called " Hungry Lions" a club made up of boys from my street in Sari Iganmu, Orile,Lagos. Amuneke was also a deadly striker in my then secondary school -Cardoso High School, Badia-Ijora,Lagos as his deadly left foot helped us to win the Lagos state pricipal cup in 1990!

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Monaco's football academy.

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Has anyone read the article yet?

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This are the legends of Barcelona's La Masia academy.

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http://video.nytimes.com/video/2010/06/02/magazine/1247467966636/training-to-play-the-world-s-game.html

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Ajax football academy slideshow.

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2010/06/01/magazine/20100606-ajax.html

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