The Real Madrid Football Academy says it has discovered football talents in abundance in Rivers State.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria in Port Harcourt on Thursday, Chris Green, Special Adviser to Gov. Nyesom Wike, on Real Madrid Football Academy, said the talents were discovered while screening candidates for admission into the academy.
He said that while 1,500 candidates were participating in the screening at the beginning, the number has been pruned by the handlers.
“We have seen an abundance of talents here; of course talent is either acquired or inside of you.
“And here, we have seen those with endowed talent. They will get priority over those who may acquire talent or football skills while in the academy.
“In screening, the football exercise takes higher percentage than the academics, but above all, we want to see that the candidates to be admitted must have passed through primary school education,’’ he said.
The Special Adviser said that the Real Madrid Academy is open to all Nigerians and that Rivers and non-Rivers indigenes had almost equal slots with the state having a slight edge over others.
Meanwhile, parents whose children and wards have been participating in the exercise have commended the Rivers State government for the initiative.
David Apiafi, a parent from Opobo in Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area of Rivers, told NAN that he was happy with the development.
“We are happy about the development because it will give an opportunity to children to showcase their hidden talents.
“It will enable them to benefit from their talents and make a valuable name for the state and for their locality,’’ he said.
Another parent, Jacklloyd Thomas from Abonnema in Akuku-Toru LGA, said the academy was a good thing as it would create awareness and bring out sports talents in children.
Thomas commended Gov. Nyesom Wike for initiating the football academy.
He, however, faulted the kick-off of the screening which began with an aptitude test on Jan. 18 alleging that the handlers did not follow the procedure laid down by the Ministry of Education for the aptitude test.
“Some of the boys who wrote the aptitude test are between the ages of 15 and 17 years, whereas the laid down rule was to give priority to boys of between the ages of nine years and 12 years.
“How do you get the best when the older ones compete with the required boys that are between nine and 12 years?
“You will definitely find it difficult to pick the best from them because the older ones will kick the ball better but they are above the age limit,’’ he charged.
Miss Loveth Mgba, a parent and politician said the initiative to catch the children young would secure their future and make them better people.
She stated that the screening was transparent and urged the organisers to ensure that no one was short-changed.
Mrs Ogechi Azunda, a parent said that aside from the hitches recorded on the day of the aptitude test, the screening had been smooth.
Azunda applauded the Rivers State government for partnering to establish the Real Madrid Football Academy as it would help the young to showcase their talents and possibly build a rewarding future.