Posted by Nelson Dafe, Lagos | 16 December 2013 | 6,825 times
At the heart of the Nigeria Air Force Base, Shasha in Lagos, a football outfit finds a home. Jobi Sports academy has been using the football pitch at the base to churn out exciting football talents for local and international professional clubs in the past few years. Perhaps the biggest success story of the academy till date is Kenneth Omeruoh, the Super Eagles and Chelsea defender who was tutored on the art of the beautiful game by coaches at the academy.
Today, loads of young players are in Jobi Sports, hoping to benefit from the coaching and exposure that is on offer there so they could go on a similar route as Omeruoh. Leading the coaching crew of Jobi Sports as Chief Coach is Akin Ademofe, a one-time youth international and Eagle Cement defender. News Express visited the training ground of the academy and observed several mornings of training sessions there. It was clear that the work being put in by the coaches were made to mirror what obtains in any modern football academy. The players (most of whom live in a hostel accommodation) are tutored on several intricate tactical and technical football tricks, amidst some heavy physical work. Ademofe says of the training method there:
“Our system here is like that of Europe. We seek to educate players in such a way that they can easily fit anywhere. When they go to professional clubs, tactically and physically they would have no major problems because they would have been well prepared.”
In most grassroots clubs, a common feature of their training sessions are two-a-side games where players play 11 vs 11. But Ademofe is keen to stress that at Jobi this is not all they do. “Here we want players to be very sound and we have sessions to teach them how to improve their passing, shooting and dribbling techniques. We also focus on getting the players to know how to play in very tight spaces, so that in real match situations they can deal with choked up spaces. Our training here is much more than just simple two-a-side games,” he tells News Express.
Akin Ademofe is bringing his experience as an accomplished ex-player to bear in moulding the generation of football stars under his watch. In his playing days he was admired as a no-nonsense centre back who combined steel and intelligence. These qualities got him into the flying Eagles in 1999 when Nigeria hosted the under 21 world cup. Today, Ademofe is still in love with football a few years after quitting the game, and he is very satisfied with the work he and the other members of the coaching crew are doing at Jobi Sports academy.
“Most of the players who were here recently have been successfully marketed to several local and international sides. We are in the process of building another set now,” he reveals.
The desire of the current crop of players to make an upward climb in their career is further boosted by the fact that there is an important person always at the sidelines monitoring their progress.
Obinna Emelogu is a reputable FIFA licensed players agent who oversees the progress of the lads at Jobi Sports and negotiates lucrative deals for players who show genuine qualities to play for professional sides. He manages Kenneth Omeruoh, the Super Eagles player. He regularly offers advice to the players on the need to work very hard in order to see their dreams come to reality.
However, there is always some kind of pressure for Emelogu as he tries to balance his desire to help as many players as he can to earn a living and making sure that he protects his well-earned image of providing top quality players to clubs. He says: “Every young player believes he is qualified enough to play in professional clubs. The reality is that football is very competitive, and only the exceptionally talented ones are guaranteed a place in professional teams. It is these exceptional talents that we need or seek to groom here at Jobi Sports Academy.”
Emelogu also stresses that it could irreparably do damage to the image of a football agent if he recommends sub-standard players to club sides. “No club would want to do business with you in the future when you make them go through the hassles of inviting a player who turns out to be simply not good enough,” he says.
For young players currently at Jobi Sports, their hopes for a proper football education from the Akin Ademofe-led coaching crew is high, and they are confident of graduating from the academy to fuller professional lives in football.
•Photo shows Coach Akin Ademofe in front of the academy players warming up in the background.
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