Akinwunmi made the call in Lagos at the kick-off of this year’s Cowbell Football Academy (CFA) Summer Camp, an initiative sponsored by Cowbell Milk, the flagship brand of Promasidor Nigeria Limited makers of Loya Milk, Top Tea, Onga and other quality brands.
Akinwunmi, who is also the Chairman of Lagos State Football Association and NFF Youth Development Committee, said initiatives like Cowbell Football Academy is relevant to building an enduring nation. He, however, lamented that such programmes are increasingly becoming rare.
Unveiling the three-week intensive training for primary and secondary school children, Akinwunmi noted: “Initiatives like this are lacking across board. This is a laudable programme brought to reality by Promasidor Nigeria. We need to get everybody on the same page to harness the potential in corporate sponsorship in developing youth sports. People need to know the enormous benefits in this area.”
He said Nigeria needed a consensus to create a sustainable youth development plan, adding that the stability of key organisations is important to drafting such blueprint. According to him, the country would also need to create an inclusive structure to attract the private sector to youth development.
Akinwunmi commended Promasidor Nigeria Limited for its commitment not only to youth sports but also in key areas such as education and career awareness. He urged other organisations to follow similar path, stressing: “They will surely reap the benefits.”
Also commending Promasidor Nigeria Limited, Nduka Irabor, a sports enthusiast and former Chairman of the League Management Company, said: “The only way to start developing the sports sector is starting early like Promasidor Nigeria has done.”
Irabor, who was also Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Communications, lamented that while many corporate entities are interested in celebrating success, not many bothered about the all-important grassroots sports.
Loveday Omoruyi, an ex-international and coach of Stationery Stores Football Club, observed that well-managed football academies are key in fixing the challenges in the national teams.
“We cannot produce the next Kanu Nwankwo or Austin Jay Jay Okocha except we start grooming young talents at tender age. Unfortunately, many corporate organisations do not want to sponsor grassroots football. All the banks and big manufacturing companies had football clubs those days. They may not necessarily be involved like Promasidor Nigeria has done via CFA.”
Head of Legal/Public Relations, Promasidor Nigeria Limited, Mr. Andrew Enahoro said the company is committed to the dream of Cowbell Football Academy and expanding its scope despite harsh economy as a result of its desire to positively impact Nigerian youths.
“This is just one of our youth-centric corporate social responsibilities (CSR). Through Cowbellpedia Secondary School Mathematics Television Quiz Competition, we are also stimulating young people’s interest in mathematics. For us, it is not only about bottom-line but also about the future of the Nigerian child,” he further said.
According to the Cowbell Football Academy Rector, Godwin Dudu-Orumen, 250 kids would participate in the programme, which is the fifth in its series. He said Cowbell Football Academy was committed to addressing the poor-coaching problem affecting the country’s football.
“We are fortunate to secure the Promasidor Nigeria sponsorship, which has helped us to employ 23 talented coaches handling activities at our four centres located in Lagos and Edo states. Six celebrity coaches will be working with the coaches to train the kids in the art of modern football in the next three weeks. Nigerian football is poorly-coached. This is one of the challenges we want to address through CFA. At CFA, we strike a balance between academics and sports,” Dudu-Orumen pointed out.
Apart from Cowbell Football Academy, Promasidor Nigeria also motivates Nigerian youths through Harness Your Dream, a career awareness workshop for public secondary school students, Loya Swim Meet a secondary school swimming competition that aims to promote swimming as a sport while encouraging health/fitness and Cowbellpedia Secondary School Mathematics TV Quiz Show.