The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Yagazie Foundation, Chinedu Ezirim, says starting one’s career in sport was a way to solve the menace of age cheat which, he described as antithetical to the growth of football in Nigeria.
Ezirim made the assertion during his visit to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) office in Lagos on Sunday to announce his organisation’s effort to bring in five foreign coaches from Denmark and America to develop the skills of Nigerian coaches.
Yagazie Foundation is currently partnering with the Lagos State Football Association (FA) and the Lagos State Football Coaches Association to organise a clinic for over 100 coaches from across Nigeria.
The convener of the project, Ezirim said that the clinic would have in attendance three FIFA A-Licensed coaches from Europe and two Coaches from America.
“We are expecting top three Danish coaches, Rene B. Lindharth who has works as a youth academy club, Naesby BK for U-15 and 17 boys and girls.
“There will also be Thomsen K. Erling from Denmark and Jensen A. Birger, a youth development programme instructor responsible for training youth players from Denmark for the national team.
“The coaches from America are Thomas Pitts and Chris. Pitts is from the Space Coast Soccer Club that has about 2,000 youth players from ages 5-19 and also holds USSF National D License.
“Chris on the other hand is a FYSA youth coach and also holds the U.S. Club National Youth Coaching License; he has previously been the head coach at Ohio High School in the U.S.,’’ he said.
He was accompanied by his partners in foundation, the CEO of Dominon Hotspur FC, Lagos, Emmanuel Udeogu, the Proprietor of Bethel Global International FC, Lagos, Nathaniel Olagunju and the Chairman, Lagos State Football Coaches Association, other football enthusiasts and footballers.
NAN reports that Yagazie is a sports outfit that seeks to promote grassroots sports and football in particular with the aim of getting the best out of Nigeria’s local talents and ensure they developed according to their age.
Ezirim said that age cheating starts with the late coming of some footballers into the system, adding that career in football should start early.
“For us to curb age cheat, we need to let our intending stars to know that they need to start early and not when they have already graduated from the university.
“In some European countries that I have visited, such as Germany, they have age grade leagues for the children which means that they are starting early enough.
“We need to be more serious with our developmental programmes and youth academies. Most of these players do fizzle out because they have passed their prime age for football which is 30 years.
“Football has its own age limit at which you can be active and once it is past, depreciation sets in, therefore there is no chance for such players again,’’ he said.
He added that because some youths had falsifies their age, they rush into slavish contracts with clubs in Europe only to discover that their ages were more than what could bring out the best in them.
Contribution, the CEO of Lagos-based Dominion Hotspur FC, Udeogu said that 60 per cent of the slave contracts signed by players were caused by the players themselves.
“I can confidently say that 60 per cent of the issues that arises from slave contracts signed by players are caused by them.
“Some of them are not well informed before signing those contracts, while many are enticed by the financial incentives which are laced with slavery.
“Some parents are also to blame for slave contracts because they are fascinated by the contracts above their wards development in the game, many of them do give wrong advice.
“I say that most of the slave contracts are caused by the players themselves because sometimes too, most of these players seem to trust some of the officials because of their colour,’’ he said.
Udeogu said that some players’ preferred to go to clubs that would pay them high as against clubs that would see to their development through academies.
“Whenever any player is setting out young, money should not be the first consideration. The first thing is to get a club that will develop him through its academy.
“Many of them take money above their development. I want to say that a year in the life of a player means a lot because of his development.
“If any player gets it wrong in a year, it may end his career; so many of the young players should first consider the clubs that have youth development programmes so that they can grow.
“After growing in the club, then the money they are looking for will come within a year, so there should be no rush to sign contracts because of money,’’ the intermediary said.