*Obinna Ebere of PFA Owerri U-15 team celebrating the equalizing goal against PFA U-15 Kaduna team with his teammates during the their match in Pepsi Festival of Youth at Agege Stadium, Lagos recently. –
With a rich list of Pepsi Football Academy alumni plying their trade both at home and abroad, which include John Mikel Obi of Chelsea FC of England, Osaze Odemwingie, Elderson Echejile, Sunday Mba, Onyekachi Apam, amongst others, the Academy has been taking stock of its achievements since it admitted the first set of cadet footballers 21 years ago at the Agege Stadium, Lagos.
At a gala night in Lagos to mark the end of the Academy’s activities for 2013, Mr. Iain Nelson, Consultant to Pepsi Football Academy who helped in midwifing the football academy lauded the sustained commitment of Seven-Up Bottling Company to the Pepsi Football Academy, saying it is “a remarkable achievement in any country but especially in Nigeria with the challenges facing her as an emerging market”.
He said the Pepsi Academy has grown from one centre with few students to about 14 centres across Nigeria with over 3,000 youths.
Nelson said Pepsi Academy has a pool of talents from which lots of players from age grade competitions in Nigeria such as the Nigeria U-17, Flying Eagles and the U-23 Olympic team have been drawn from.
He recalled that when Nigeria won silver medal in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Holland in 2005, eight members of the team were products of the Pepsi Academy.
Besides, Nelson said the academy has also connected with football lovers through exciting TV football shows such as Pepsi On The Ball, Pepsi World Challenge, Only Through Pepsi reality TV programme among others.
This is in addition to international partnerships with organisations such as; St Bedes School and Brooke House College in the United Kingdom, which has enabled 12 students of the Pepsi Academy to enjoy two year academic and football scholarships in the two schools.
Director of Pepsi Football Academy, Dr. Kasimawo Laloko said the foremost academy has put measures in place for training and retraining of the coaches both locally and abroad to acquaint them with the current techniques in coaching especially young people.