A Dubai-based football club, Gulf United FC, and Committee Of Youth On Mobilisation and Sensitisation (CYMS) are set to offer both academic and football scholarship to 120 Nigerian Youths.
This was disclosed during the arrival of the management team of the club led by its Director, Mr Jordi Shiel, to the country on Wednesday in Abuja.
Shiels said that the club was a leading football academy in the UK and Middle East that had been committed to mentor young people in both football and academic career.
He said the aim of the programme was to raise professional footballers that would also be highly educated in other professional fields as engineering, law, medicine among others.
According to him, the club has over 200 partner universities where they negotiate the right school for the right boy, depending on the level of football skill, place and family support.
“We work in the middle east football and we know that there are many talented Nigerian footballers there but what we are looking for is not necessarily the next Jay-Jay Okocha or John Mike Obi.
“We are looking for people who are really interested to study and would have a sporting family who will encourage them to study to highest level.
“So they will have high level of football skills and also attain highest level of education so that regardless of whatever either as professional footballers, engineers, lawyers or doctors, they will excel for life,” he said.
Head Scout and Consultant, Gulf United Nigeria Showcase, Mr Marcellinus Anyanwu, said the programme was about “study and play in the US and Canada” targeted at Nigerian youths who had sound educational background.
Anyanwu said that the team was in the country to conduct talent hunt from over 5,000 applications received with a view to selecting 120 suitably qualified candidates for the scholarship.
He said that intention of the team and its partner, CYMS, was to select 60 candidates each from Abuja and Lagos centres, respectively.
“We are targeting those players that have good background in WAEC and have footballing skills so that they can go there, play and study.
“So if they don’t succeed in playing football, they would fall back on the certificate side.
“The player must be between the age of 16 years and 20 years; must be someone with a very good background in education and then good footballing skill.
“We negotiate with schools in U.S. and Canada and we take students there and Gulf United has been doing this for a very long time.
“We have done it in India, we have done it in some European countries and this is the first time that we are doing in Africa and as a Nigerian, I told my team, let us come to Nigeria.
“I am happy they listened to me and they are here now and I pray that everything is going to be successful.
“We asked people to apply for this since April and we got more than 5,000 applications which we have trimmed down to 120.
“We will pick 60 players from Abuja centre and another 60 from Lagos centre,” he said.
The Director-General of CYMS, Mr Obinna Nwaka, said the organisation had been assisting the Federal Government in implementing its policies and programmes that affected youths.
Nwaka said the mandate of the organisation was to mobilise and facilitate youth empowerment to young people who were not engaged in meaningful jobs.
He said that CYMS engaged with the club to discuss the partnership with a view to facilitating the scholarship for Nigerian youths to ensure that young people from the country keyed into the programme.
According to him, unemployment is a big challenge here in Nigeria as well as youth restiveness and other social vices.
“So we believe this opportunity is one of the millions and it is not everywhere in the world and we are glad that it is coming to West Africa and Nigeria in particular.
“We encouraged young people to key into it; but one of the things we did as a principal partner is to make sure that we publicise the programme.
“The government is also impressed with what we are doing and other security agencies have also keyed in to make sure that they give the maximum support.
“The partnership is key and we are glad that GUFC are in Nigeria and Africa to empower a lot of young Nigerians who are desirous to further their football carrier and also study overseas,” he said.
Nwaka expressed appreciation to the club for their interest in Nigeria.