No fewer than 100 kids have so far registered for trials in AS Roma Football Club Academy, one year after it signed a three-year deal with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
Lucy Ukwa, Social Media Manager of the Academy, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja saying “the academy presently has seven FIFA graded coaches and one technical director to help the kids develop a career in football”.
NAN reports that the NFF and AS Roma FC signed a three-year partnership deal on Sept. 20, 2019 which would see both sides collaborate on and off the pitch, with the club playing an exhibition match in the country.
Under the terms of the agreement, the two parties among other things will share football, business and media expertise, with Roma offering the NFF technical and operational support.
Roma will also advice NFF in the areas of youth coaching, player development, football administration and digital media best practices.
Ukwa said on Wednesday that the academy which was the first in Africa to be established by the Italian club was already planning to open it branches in other parts of the country, including Port Harcourt and Lagos.
“There is a partnership between NFF and AS Roma to help develop homegrown players, so AS Roma Academy is one of the first ways of fulfilling that partnership.
“Abuja is a very unique place and the football community is in existence and it’s a unique opportunity to start off here.
“We are the first international club to start off an Academy in Abuja, and the intention is to spread to other parts of the country but Abuja is the first port of call.
“We have a scholarship slot but it is a pay academy and the fees depend on each category with a one-time payment of school fees which includes the jerseys and insurance.
“We also have a trial session where our technical team watch the players and categorise them after discovering potential talents and afterward recommend them for a sort of scholarship,” Ukwa said.
According to her, the academy has grouped the player into U-5, U-7, U-9, U-11, U-13, U-15, U-17 and U-19 for easy focus and development of the players.
“Categorising the players is one of the best ways to develop the kids. If you lump everybody into the same category, there will be some that will not benefit as much as others.
“We have a ratio of eight players to one coach depending on the category and the senior category is about 11 players to one coach; this is so to enable the coaches’ focus on each player.
“And we want a situation where no player is left behind and everyone gets the desired attention and it enables us reach out to as many people as possible and deliver quality training,” she said.
“At AS Roma, we are advocating for you to have your education alongside your training, so, we partnered a school here in Asokoro to ensure that people have that convenience and alternative for education.
“The possibility of doing well in football is there but footballing as a career doesn’t last like other regular careers and that is why the importance of education cannot be overestimated no matter how talented the person is in football.
“We are trying to show people that education is as important as your athletic talent because it could be a fallback plan. We must create a basis for everyone to thrive,” Ukwa added.