The Rivers State Government has unveiled the ultra-modern Real Madrid Football Academy in Port Harcourt.
The move is to promote professional football in the state and the country in general.
The Academy is simply stunning and a delight to all those who were present at the event.
The complex boasts of modern equipment and all the necessary facilities needed to encourage and aid young talents.
Two years ago, Governor Nyesom Wike had promised that government would build a Real Madrid Football Academy in the state, most of his critics thought it would be another jamboree or a white elephant project. Even those who took him seriously, did not envisage the magnitude of what they saw at the unveiling of the sport complex last week.
The Academy which has hostels, would also boast of a secondary school for the two to go hand in hand. According to the state government, the Academy would be tuition-free for Rivers indigenes.
Promoting professional football
At the unveiling of the ultra-modern football training facility in Port Harcourt, Governor Wike again reiterated that the project was constructed to promote professional football in the state and the country in general.
Inaugurating the academy alongside officials of Real Madrid Football Club, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State said the Academy would groom the next generation of stars.
“There have always been great football talents from Rivers State. Great players like Taribo West, George Finidi and Joseph Yobo. This project will create more stars,” stressed the Oyo State Governor. This project will allow the early discovery and harnessing of football talents in Rivers. This project will create more stars,” Makinde said.
He described sports as one of the greatest unifying factors in Nigeria and commended the idea behind the Academy.
Makinde also hailed Governor Wike for indirectly promoting national unity and for his commitment to the development of the state, adding that as a person who lived in Port Harcourt, he knows the high level of infrastructural development the state had witnessed under his administration.
Governor Wike said; ”the unveiling of the Academy is one of the happiest days of my life as it marked the beginning of a new football era.. Today, our dream has come to fruition by the help of God. The money used to execute this project is from Rivers. Therefore, Rivers money is for Rivers people.
The governor said the state government resolved to construct a school and hostel in addition to current facilities at the academy.
The said that ”the people of Rivers deserved the best, and this was why his administration was committed to initiating and executing quality projects for the people.
“Seventy per cent of the students will be indigenes of Rivers, while the remaining 30 per cent will be from other states. All Rivers indigenes to be trained in the academy will school here free of charge.’’
Area Manager of Real Madrid Foundation for Africa and Middle East, Inigo Vallejo, assured the state government that the club would continue to support the academy’s sustained development.
He said after series of engagement with Governor Wike on the Academy, the club had keyed into it and would help drive the project.
Vallejo, who thanked the governor for his commitment to football development, stated that Real Madrid Football Club would provide the necessary technical support to develop the Academy.
He described the Real Madrid Academy in Port Harcourt as the Mother of All Football Academies in Africa. He said Real Madrid Football Club positively responded to the dream of Wike to set up an academy in Rivers State.
Vallejo stated that Real Madrid Academy in Port Harcourt was the first by the club in Nigeria, noting that it had facilities that were of international standards.