Generally speaking, there is very little talent development structure on the ground in Nigeria; the job of grooming and developing talent, therefore, falls on the many football academies in the country. Of course, not all football academies are equal; the best football academies in Nigeria have produced the most talent in recent years.
The ultimate goal of these football academies is to produce raw talent to play at the highest level; and for that to happen, the academies need to have the best structures on the ground, including the best coaches available, very good administrators, and incentives to attract the very best talent.
Over time, these academies then gain some reputation, which identifies them as the best. That opens doors, such as scout deals with top football clubs in Europe to alert them about the best prospects.
Top 10 Best Football Academies In Nigeria
1. Pepsi Football Academy
Location: Agege Stadium, Agege, Lagos, Nigeria
Pepsi Football Academy is the most popular in the country; as far as the production of top talent, the Pepsi Football Academy is unchallenged as the very best football academy in Nigeria.
Pepsi Football Academy has over 14 training centres, scattered all over the country. Of course such a large number of training centres becomes rather difficult to properly cover.
With so many coaches and so many eager new recruits hungry to show what they can do, it may be difficult to monitor the activities of the coaches, and to properly access the capabilities of the young boys.
Nevertheless, Nigeria should be grateful to the Pepsi Football Academy because of the abundance of talent it has produced for the country. Players like the Great Mikel Obi, Peter Odemwigie, Onyekachi Apam, Joseph Akpala and Yinka Adedeji all paased through this academy, and west on to achieve great things for club and country.
2. Papilo Football Academy
Location: Kanu’s private estate at Egbu Owerri Road, Imo.
Papilo Academy was founded in 2000, and it is located at Owerri, Imo State. It was established by the Super Eagles and Arsenal Legend Kanu Nwankwo, with the aim of discovering talented young players, and training them to become professional footballers; playing at the highest level.
Papilo Football Academy has already produced some mentionable names such as Kelechi Iheanacho and Chidiebere Nwakali; who have already progressed to national team and top club levels.
The club has already secured a scouting deal with Leeds United Football Club, United Kingdom. The academy has a very good structure, and the coaches are reputable. Since the academy has already produced established footballers, it outranks other football academies, even those that were established years before its founding.
3. Buruj Sports Academy
Location: Buruj Sports House – 8, Adeniran Oshodi Street, off Olokodana Street, Ogolonto Bus Stop, Ikorodu, Lagos State, Nigeria
Buruj Sports Academy has gained a reputation as one of the best football academies in Nigeria because of the successes it has recorded so far. This academy has successfully sent off a few young boys to go on scholarship in various parts of Europe.
Interestingly enough, it was established by a renowned traditional medicine practitioner; Dr. Buruj, but by bringing on board the best hands in coaching and administration he has already achieved success with the Academy which does not oly train young ones in football, but also in Running, Basketball, Cycling, Table Tennis and Lawn Tennis.
Buruj Sports Academy participates in local age grade competitions as well as in competitions aboard. By so doing, the young trainees are exposed to the competitive side of the game, and they get the desire to lift trophies.
They have participated in the Dubai International Super Cup, English International Super Cup, Youth Champions of the TTD Dubai Super Cup in U.A.E, and the English and Welsh Int’l Super Cup.
They have scouting deals with Barnet F.C, and Borehamwood F.C.
4. Hoffnung International Football Academy
Location: HIFA Street off Church Street, Taike Ikosi, Ketu Lagos – Nigeria
Hoffnung International Football Academy (HIFA) is a private organization founded by Mrs Hope Kole. This football academy has already become quite popular, maybe because it uses a different approach. Rather than depend on money brought in by students and trainees, it depends on money brought in as donations from founders, families, friends and sponsors.
With this approach, Hoffnung International Football Academy does not just take those who can afford the training, but does with the talent, but who may find themselves in financially challenged families.
As a matter of fact, this academy challenges any young person to come forward and show what he can do. If the skills are abundant enough to convince the coaches, then he may soon find himself playing abroad, with little or no financial input from himself and his family.
Hoffnung International Football Academy has several connections with football clubs abroad, and the academy is well funded.
5. Midas Football Academy
Location: Ground, Gospel Camp, Command Rd, Ipaja 100278, Lagos
Midas Football Academy Nigeria was formed in November 2006. In the Ipaja area of Lagos State one can say that this is the most popular football academy. The aim of the academy is to discover young football talents, to groom them, and help them rise to the top of the football world.
Midas Football Academy is registered and affiliated with the Nigeria Football Federation and Lagos state Football Association. The academy participates in local age grade competitions to expose the players to the pressures of playing competitively, and also to discover those that are ready for the challenges of playing abroad.
The football academy has connections with clubs around the world; they have sent players to play in Europe, Asia, North Africa and America.
6. Barcelona Football Academy (FCBEscola)
Location: Teslim Balogun Stadium Complex, Surulere, Lagos State, Nigeria.
FCBEscola is a football academy that is affiliated to the famous Barcelona Football Club. However, it must be stated that joining this academy does not imply that one plays for the great club.
This is a separate entity that only sends its best students to tryout at Barcelona, and then they will have to start at the Barcelona Academy in Spain before working their way up to the club proper.
FC Barcelona school aims at spotting the talent very early; the boys and girls should ideally be between 6 and 18 years of age, and all they need is the talent and desire to play at the highest level.
6. Juventus Football Academy
Location: Abuja and Lagos.
The Juventus Football Academy was recently opened in Nigeria with much pomp and fanfare. The directors have done a great job in catching the attention of the media, and bringing the attention of the public to their academy. They have even brought in a celebrity from the famous big brother franchise to be the face of the academy.
The Juventus Football Academy employs local coaches who are very qualified to hold the position. While they do the ground work of putting the young boys and girls through their paces, they also get periodic visits from the club’s representatives in Turin who come in to ensure that all the standards are upheld.
The Juventus Academy Program in Nigeria is mostly aimed at school children, therefore it is most active during the holiday. Training sessions are held between 9 am to 3 pm on weekdays.
7. The International (Sports) Academy (TIA)
Location: Wasimi Orile, 54 kilometers from Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos
The International (Sports) Academy (TIA) is a multi-sports academy which functions like a secondary school for young boys and girls with interest in and talent in various sports. The International Sports Academy was established in 2007; by former footballer Chief Segun Odegbami (MON).
The school runs a 6-year curriculum (JSS1 – SS3), and gives the opportunity to the young children to help them gain sports exposure without forfeiting their education.
The International (Sports) Academy (TIA) offers training in Football, Athletics, Basketball, Table Tennis and Lawn Tennis.
8. The AS Roma Academy
The AS Roma Academy is a football training establishment created in conjunction with the great Italian Football Club AS Roma. The academy is designed to expose very young kids (between 5 – 17 years old) to the training methodologies and techniques that will help them blend in with the European style of football as soon as they are ready.
Many schools sign up their children with the AS Roma Academy; so as to help them learn more about the game, develop a passion for it, and learn to play it professionally.
9. Kwara State Football Academy
Kwara Football Academy (KFA) was an initiative of the Former Kwara State Governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki. Despite the name; the academy is filled with young kids from all over the country who want to become professional footballers, and so they come in to gain the necessary skills.
The academy’s coaches are mostly former international football players with coaching certificates. This Academy does not just provide training for the young ones, it also motivates them to face any challenges, and reach for the stars.
Students of the Kwara Football Academy (KFA) get to play in age grade competitions; where they can win some medals, and also get spotted by local and international scouts.
10. Lagos Tigers FC
Location: Lekki, Lagos
Lagos Tigers Football Club (LTFC) is a football academy, and at the same time a football club. It was established in 2012, for boys and girls between the ages 3 to 15 years, as a way of discovering young talents to eventually play at the highest level.
Aside from offering rigorous training, this academy also participates in local competitions where the kids can showcase their talents.
As the kids develop their talents, they can then be linked up to scouts working with the academy so as to have the opportunity of playing in Europe, or other parts of the world.
The best football academies in Nigeria have the job of finding out the best talents and giving them a platform to showcase their potential. Thankfully, foreign clubs are starting to get involved in the talent development aspect of football in Nigeria; no longer just waiting for the best young prospects to be sent across to them for trials.
With so many well-organized football academies in Nigeria at the moment, it certainly seems like the future of football is bright in Nigeria.
Nigeria is a country that intensely appreciates the value of sports. There are various football development centres young players can attend in the country. There might be a football academy close to you in your state, moreover, the top ten football academies in Nigeria have been listed above.