Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State says the decision of the Barcelona Football Club of Spain to establish its first African football academy in the state was in sync with his administration’s philosophy for sports development.
Ambode, who spoke at the Lagos House in Ikeja while receiving senior management staff of the football club, pledged the support of the government in ensuring the successful take-off of the project.
The governor added that the academy was a thing of joy coming at a time when the state was still basking in the euphoria of successfully hosting an international marathon.
Ambode said, “This visit by FC Barcelona is coming at a time when we just hosted an international marathon. I want to assure you that we are committed to this partnership because we know it will give us the firstFCBEscola in Africa. I was made to understand that this is the first of its kind in Africa and so Lagos is priding itself as a major receptor of your first academy to be established in Africa.
“I know that this will create a very good platform for youth development and grass roots empowerment. We share the same values with FC Barcelona which are respect, courage, humility, social integration and community service.
“Whatever it is that we need to do to ensure that this project takes off as quickly as possible; we are ready to support you in the interest of all of us.”
The governor said sport was the future of service to create a platform for youth employment and youth engagement in Lagos.
The governor also pledged the support of the state government to the Nigeria Football Federation in hosting the first Beach Soccer African Nations Cup in Lagos, which will hold between December 10 and 23, 2016.
The Director of Business and a member of the FC Barcelona Management Board, Pau Vilanova Vila-Abadal, who led the team to the state house, said FC Barcelona decided to establish its academy in Lagos due to the impressive population of the state, and the opportunity to share the philosophy of the team with the state.
The Worldwide Director of Barcelona Academy, Oscar Grau, said players like Lionel Messi, Andre Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, among others, all started from academies, adding that the club had a unique methodology of instilling great virtues in footballers.
The NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, pledged the support of the football body in ensuring the success of the academy, especially in terms of facilitating the necessary approvals.