Posted by Nelson Dafe, Benin | 27 October 2012 | 6,326 times
Former coach of Nigeria's under 17 team, Godwin Izilien, has expressed belief in the eventual success of the grassroots football development drive currently being embarked upon by the Edo State Government.
Last year the Edo Government decided on setting up a youth academy in order to instill proper football education in young talents across the state. Izilien who is the head coach of the team is excited with the challenge of nurturing a new generation of exciting footballers.
“I have been very impressed with the development of the kids since we started this youth football project. They have improved technically, physically, tactically and mentally. We continue to work and hope the country would see the benefit soon,” he told News Express in an exclusive chat.
Izilien is drawing on a rich and vast coaching experience that has spanned various national teams of Nigeria (male and female) to impart the right coaching methods on the young players. The coach who spoke with News Express just before one of the team's training sessions at the Edo State's School Of Health playing field, explained that the state is very concerned about the quality of coaching that young players receive.
“One of the major problems facing Nigerian football is that many young players don’t have the opportunity of being trained by qualified and experienced coaches while they are young,” he stated.
Izilien stressed that it is for the purpose of correcting this anomaly that the state football academy has been set up. He advised that grassroots coaches should be made to meet some standard qualification requirements for them to handle youth clubs.
News Express watched the training session of the Edo youth team, where the players went through some tactical drills with the ball. The players looked very enthusiastic about being in the team. One of them, Bright Osazuwa, told News Express afterwards that they are learning a lot.
“The coaches have been really great. We have had enjoyable experiences of playing in several top competitions like the Edo State Challenge Cup. They have been making us know a lot of new things about the game that we had never known before coming here. The head coach, Izilien has been like a father to us. He is very strict, but also shows he cares about everyone here, not just about our football but also about general lives as well,” Osazuwa said.
News Express however learnt that things are not rosy for the team. There are still financial challenges to be overcome in order for the team to have a true academy status. Investigations however showed that plans are in the offing to move the players permanently into camp, and to make available facilities of some of the state’s institutions of learning for the overall academic training of the youngsters.
While he wants to see the youngsters blossom into star footballers, Izilien (see photo) stressed that it is important for players to get a standard education.
“A player’s playing career lasts only for a short while. After about 10 to 15 years it is over. One needs qualifications that would be relevant for a lifetime,” he advised.
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