The football world is moving fast and at the core of it is personnel development. In recent years, Nigerians have started to take the concept of football academies more seriously. This has caused lots of amateur teams that operate like academies to spring up alongside properly established academies.
Global football institutions like Barcelona and Real Madrid have also established academies in the country in recent years as pipelines for exceptional talent to make it to the big stages. Nigerian clubs have also entered into partnerships with various European teams for this reason, leading to stories like that of Paul Onuachu.
List of football academies in Nigeria
There is no comprehensive list of academies anywhere, but there are a few notable ones. Among these notable ones are the Pepsi Football Academy, which has been making stars out of Nigerian players for many years. Below are the top five football academies in Nigeria.
Pepsi Football Academy (PFA)
This is arguably one of the best football academies in Nigeria. Contrary to what the name implies, it is not owned by Pepsi but by the estate of Kashimawo Laloko, a Nigerian talent scout and developer. After his founding of the academy in 1992, he secured the total backing of Pepsi, who agreed to brand the academy to date.
The Pepsi Football Academy offers scholarships to their students to join teams and train with them in the United Kingdom. The academy now has 14 centres across Nigeria with over 3,000 students currently in attendance.
Barcelona Football Academy (FCBESCOLA)
Barcelona brought La Masia to Africa and one of their first stops was Nigeria. Their Escola system which trains children to be football superstars while providing them with feeding, accommodation and a school environment so they do not forget their studies, has created legends like Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique and most recently, Pablo “Gavi” Gavira, who the world cannot stop talking about. The FCBESCOLA Nigeria branch is situated in Lagos and kids can attend by paying a registration fee of ₦13,500 to related accounts.
Kwara State Football Academy (KWFA)
The Kwara state government established the Kwara State Football Academy in 2005 under the Bukola Saraki government. It is one of the few government-sponsored football academies with alumni who have gone on to play for the Super Eagles.
Former Nigeria Super Eagles technical adviser and manager, Clemence Westerhof commenced the operations of the academy but it is now managed by Swedish technical director, Paul Ashworth, who has worked with the academies of a number of European teams including the wildly successful Dynamo Kiev. The KWFA also has a number of former Nigeria international footballers with coaching certificates as members of their coaching crew. The academy accepts young talented footballers between the ages of 13 – 21 years.
Abuja Football College (AFC)
Gabriel Newton, in partnership with Haruna Abba, established the Abuja Football College in January 2012. AFC won the under-20 unity football competition tagged “FCT 2013”, beating the likes of Pepsi Academy and Kwara State Academy. Abuja Football College also got to the Semifinals of the Croatia soccer tournament in July 2013, defeating pro-clubs like FC Zagreb and Croatia’s under-21 national team.
Located at Wuse, Abuja, the AFC training centre has a residential suite that accommodates 120 students. The academy also has a college that runs the US educational curriculum.
Papilo Football Academy (PNKFA)
Papilo Football Academy was founded in 2001 and is owned by former Super Eagles star Nwankwo Kanu. Players like Joel Obi and Stanley Okoro are among the over 10 players PNKFA has succeeded in transferring abroad. Top international coaches like Bryan Robson and Gary Smith were brought to train the students on short courses. Papilo Football Academy has over 200 players in Nwankwo Kanu’s private estate at Egbu Owerri Road.
This article was most recently revised and updated 3 months ago