February 12 – AS Roma is to open their first youth academy on the African continent in Abuja, Nigeria, the Italian club have announced.
The capital club will partner with local club Garden City Panthers FC and focus on boys from the age of five to 17. AS Roma will send coaching staff to Nigeria to provide local personnel with support, knowledge and know-how. The most talented players in the higher age categories will receive scholarships.
“We are really pleased to have begun this partnership with the club,” said the president of Garden City Panthers FC Robinson Adakosa in a statement. “This project is the result of our great relationship with AS Roma, based on creating opportunities and training programmes for Nigerian children through our academies.”
The club said it will expand in Nigeria with construction work ongoing on sites in Port Harcourt, Yenagoa, Lagos and Benin City.
AS Roma’s relationship with Nigeria began as a small social media initiative when the club decided to support the Super Eagles as the 2018 World Cup. That bond has since blossomed with the club’s Pidgin-language social media account, along with a subsequent partnership with the Nigerian FA (NFF).
“In the last few years a digital link between Nigeria and our club has been formed,” said Roma’s Chief Commercial Officer Francesco Calvo. “Opening our first academy on the continent is a natural and positive result of that, especially in an area of the world where so many boys and girls love the game.
We want to give them the opportunities and resources to help their development as both footballers and people.”