Television pundit, Emeka Enyadike was in his home city, Port Harcourt a few weeks ago to help locate, and then train the next generation of Nigerian footballers.
But he did not do it on his own as he had coaches and other officials of German Bundesliga side, Mainz 05 with him, an event that held at the football pitch of the Shell Residential Area in Port Harcourt.
For those that know Enyadike, he has since the 80s done this, and it is no surprise that he is where he is today.
The Budesliga challenge
Ten days was enough time to spend in Port Harcourt with officials of German Bundesliga side, Mainz 05 who came on a visit to train the next generation of Nigerian footballers.
With the Residential Area of Shell as hosts, the event went on with more than thirty kids in attendance.
“I brought it to Nigeria because I thought we keep doing these things in other parts of the continent especially South Africa and other places and I thought it was possible to host international teams in Nigeria, especially Port Harcourt,” Enyadike told NigerianFootballer.com.
“Early this year, you know we have a very close relationship with the Bundeliga, and we had the entire Werder Bremen team in Johannesburg for ten days.
“It is possible because they have the facilities in South Africa,” Enyadike said.
Cleaning up Port Harcourt’s image
Outside of Rivers State, a lot is not said positively about Port Harcourt regarding the kinds of stories the media pushes out.
Emeka Enyadike, who grew up in Port Harcourt and was once a member of the Rivers State Football Association board and later a member of the board of defunct Sharks FC is trying to change that.
He cites this as another reason he brought the Mainz 05 team to Port Harcourt for the training sessions.
“Any time we suggest to these teams that they could come here (Nigeria), they always cite so many reasons like lack of security, substandard facilities and all kinds of negatives that you usually will find with the kind of stories that people get out about Nigeria,” Enyadike told NigerianFootballer.com.
“So we wanted to change the narratives, especially about Rivers State and Nigeria and we have been able to prove that and we had a wonderful time and the coaches were able to prove that with their appreciation and much more, their surprise about how things went.
Curbing the menace of age cheating in Nigeria
The event/ training was meant for the ages 8-18 and Enyadike is convinced that they were able to get kids of the right ages and the parameters they set ensured age cheats did not find their way in.
“The first thing that we picked out was that because of the parameters that we set, we were able to get kids of the ages we wanted, eight to eighteen.
“I agree a couple of them were slightly younger and we also allowed two who were slightly older and we let them in because they were part of what we did in Lagos.
“In terms of the performance level from the first to the last few days when they started playing matches we could see a remarkable change in the kids and that they were able to imbibe what they were taught. It is something we should do again and make it bigger.”
After ten days, it was obvious that a lot of ground had been covered as a second season is set to be held in December 2019.
“What we did here is no different from Europe and it is thanks to Shell for the facilities,” Enyadike said.
“Our set goal is to be able to set up a system within twelve months and that is why we are coming back in December.
“Then from 2020, we will be able to roll out a full-time academy. We already have something with the University of Port Harcourt who can offer education to the products of our academy that are able to make it to further their studies or if they are good enough, they can go on to play professionally.
I think that ultimately we will be able to provide a platform where our players will play for the U17 and U20 teams at the right age.”
Within the last six months in Port Harcourt, there has been the ABEC Football Academy, the Elite School Soccer Program, the Real Madrid Academy and the Treasure FM Kids so why Port Harcourt?
“Port Harcourt, right from the 70s and the 80s has been noted as a place where talents abound and where we play beautiful football.
“When Sinclair was at Sharks, we all saw the kind of football they played and we know the kind of talent that has been discovered in Port Harcourt so it is no surprise that all of this is coming back home,” Enyadike said.