The technical team of the Glo Soccer Academy on Thursday blew the final whistle to close proceedings for the first leg of a three-nation soccer talent screening campaign for what has been described as the sub-region’s biggest soccer talent hunt and TV realty show.
Sixteen (16) Ghanaian youth have been short-listed by the coaches in a screening programme which was fiercely contested at all the three venues in Ghana.
As had been widely expected, the city of Accra presented the largest number of participants vying for placements in this prestigious soccer training programme, registering a record 500 teenagers for screening as against 120 in Kumasi and 80 in Tamale.
By the time the final whistle sounded at Accra’s Lizzy Sports Complex, a total of 700 male teenagers looking to launch a career in football and literally soar to glory on the wings of the Glo Soccer Academy, had been rigorously screened and auditioned in the three Ghanaian cities under the close watch of veteran internationals and celebrity coaches including Tijani Babangida, Tony Baffoe, goalkeepers’ trainer Zion Ogunfeyimi and Abdul ‘Golden Boy’ Razak.
Registered academy aspirants are kitted and taken through basic pitch workouts and light exercises including jogging, aerobics and push-ups. The numbers are then split into teams for the actual evaluation and selection by the coaches.
“As they play, we look out for a host of qualities but key among these are ball control, personal composure and team play, the players’ understanding of rules of the game and the exhibition of special skills,” said Academy Coach Tony Baffoe, a veteran who plied his trade in the Bundeslega and was in defence for the Black Stars in the 1980s.
Coach Tijani Babangida, in his day a prominent player for Dutch premiere side Ajax and the green Eagles, told journalists after his first encounter with Ghanaian teenagers in Kumasi that the skills exhibited by the youngsters portend a winsome future for Ghana football.
“In Kumasi the kids displayed amazing skills for their age and personally never in my entire football career have I seen so many left-footed players in the game. Once these boys begin using their right feet like everybody else, they become the most sought after players in the game’’, Babangida said.
In Accra, just as in Tamale over the weekend, most academy aspirants were accompanied by anxious parents and family friends who had come to support and cheer up their wards in the screening exercise.
After screening in Ghana, Nigeria and the Benin Republic, thirty-three (33) shortlisted players would head for camping at the Glo Soccer Academy facility in Lagos, where they would be tutored and trained by top coaches from West Africa and a technical team from Manchester United Football Club.
In Nigeria, selection of players would take place between Tuesday, 23rd October and 24th at the Sam Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, while successful players would be selected from the Enugu Centre on Saturday, 27th October to Sunday, 28th at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium.
The City of Port Harcourt would host the Glo Soccer Academy Screening team from Wednesday 31st October to 1st November, 2012 at the Liberation Stadium while the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja will host the screening team from Monday 5th to 6th November, 2012 at the Old Parade Ground.
Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos would host the screening team at the Legacy Pitch of the National Stadium in Surulere from Friday 9th to Sunday, 11th November 2012. The last batch of screening exercises would hold in two locations in the Republic of Benin.
The capital city of Cotonou would screen potential academy footballers at Stade de Rene Prive on Tuesday, 13th November while the last screening would be conducted in Port Novo on Friday, 14th November, 2012 at the Charles de Gaulle Stadium.
The Glo Soccer Academy is open to male footballers from the age of 14 to 17 years and 33 players would be picked from these screening exercises to be conducted in the nine venues.
The selected 33 players would be camped at the Glo Soccer Academy in Lagos where they would be trained by celebrity coaches from West Africa and Manchester United Football Club.
After one month of training, sixteen finalists would be selected to attend a training tour of the Manchester United Soccer schools and would win scholarships and other mouth-watering prizes. The most valuable player (the MVP) would in addition win the princely sum of sixty thousand Ghana Cedis (GHC60, 000) while the remaining 15 finalists would pocket twelve thousand Ghana Cedis (GHC 12,000) each.