TOP 5 FOOTBALL ACADEMIES: Where Stars Are Made In West Africa
Over a thousand football establishments are involved in Youth development in West Africa. A region that has produced so many football greats like: George Weah, Nwankwo Kanu, Didier Drogba, Emmanuel Adebayor, Yaya Toure... Although, only few may be regarded as football academies; others are mere 'boys clubs' with no facilities or qualified personnel.
The trend is gradually changing with some European clubs establishing satellite clubs in Africa and some multi-nationals getting involved in youth football development. More international standard academies like Jespa in Gambia and Midas in Nigeria will continue to spring up.
1. ASEC MIMOSA FOOTBALL ACADEMY, C'OTE D'IVOIRE - established 1948: Goran Ericsson, former coach of C'ote d'ivoire national team once said, "ASEC academy is probably the world's most successful football academy." The academy has produced many football stars. Notable among them is the current Africa player of the year 2011, Yaya Toure. Then, Gervinho, Solomon Kalou, Emmanuel Eboue, Didier Zokora, Bonaventure Kalou...
ASEC academy currently compete in C'ote d' ivoire Premier division and hold a World record as an unbeaten team in a League season; with 108 games without loss, between 1989 and 1994.
The academy is a feeder to ASEC main team, but is also affiliated to Kisk Beveten, Chanton and Feyernoord Rotterdam. It's located in Boigny Abidjan, with Roger Ouegnin as chairman and Sabastein Desabre as Coach. Only invited youth players are admitted into the academy.
2. PEPSI FOOTBALL ACADEMY (PFA) NIGERIA - established in 1992: With the pool of talents in Nigeria, PFA has become a place of refinement and grooming of Stars. The academy is now a major feeder of the various Nigeria national teams U17, U20, and even U23 teams.
Young football stars such as Mikel obi, Elderson Echiejie, Isaac Promise, Onyekachi Apam, Solomon Okoronkwo, Ezekiel Bala... moved from the academy into various youth national teams.
The academy is sponsored by Pepsi Company. It was actually the brainchild of one of their manager Iain Nelson. PFA is based in Agege Lagos Nigeria, but has 14 centers across the country; with 3000 students each year. The academy is open to anyone with real football talent. Players are screened before admission into the training Camp.
3. FEYENOORD FOOTBALL ACADEMY (FFA) GHANA - established 1998: With his discovery that Ghana has a lot of football talents, Jorien Van Den Herik, Chairman of Feyenoord Rotterdam FC in Holland, decided to establish a satellite football club in Ghana to feed the team in Europe with young talents.
Since 1998, the academy has produced notable stars such as Mohammed Abubakar, first to get a contract at Feyenoord Rotterdam FC, then Jeppe Curth, Jordan Opoku. Today, many of the graduates play in Beligium and Greece. Jeppe Curth play in Demark now.
FFA currently competes in the first division of Ghana Telecom Premier League and managed by Paa Kwesi Fabin. The academy is located in Goma Tetteh, just outside Accra. Only invited youth players are admitted into the academy.
4. DIAMBARS FOOTBALL INSTITUTE (DFI) SENEGAL - established 2003: Jimmy Adjoui Boco, the founder of the academy said, "Diambars institute has become a mainstay in Senegalese youth football development." They got sponsorship from Adidas and also the got support of top players as Patrick Vieira to be their chairman.
DFI has produced football stars such as Saliou Ciss, Kara Mbodj, Omar Wade... And have transferred lots of players to France, Russia and Belgium. The academy currently competes in Senegal national league2.
DFI is located in Terrain de Diambar de Saly in Diourbei Senegal. The academy is open to anyone that has an ambition of becoming a professional football player; but of course the person must have talent.
5. KWARA FOOTBALL ACADEMY (KFA) NIGERIA - established 2005: The Young academy has already started to produce players like Ahmed Abdul-Taofik, who play with FC Ventapils of Latvia, Fatai Ibraheem with Warsaw FC Poland...
In 2009, four of their students went on trials; 2 with Chelsea and 2 with Portsmouth. Three of them were in Nigeria U17 side that won silver at the world cup.
KFA is perhaps the only academy in West Africa commissioned by FIFA in 2011, for meeting International standard in terms of facilities. The school follows British School Curriculum. It has 2 standard football pitch, a gymnasium, 3 blocks of hostels that accommodate 200 students and a medical center.
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The academy is sponsored by Kwara state government. Well, it's actually the brainchild of Dr. Bukola Saraki, Kwara state governor. KFA was once managed by Nigeria most successful technical adviser, Clemence Westerhof. The academy is located in Ilorin Kwara state and offers admission to any talented football player after some rigorous screening session.