The Italian side’s recent digital connection with the African giants will be taken to a new level with this physical project aimed at grassroots development
AS Roma have announced the opening of the Serie A club’s first youth academy on the African continent in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja.
The capital club, via a statement on their official website, revealed that activities have gotten underway in their partnership with local Nigerian club Garden City Panthers FC, which is focused on nurturing boys from the age of five to 17 and giving scholarships to the most talented players in the higher age brackets.
“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.”
President of Garden City Panthers FC Robinson Adakosa has lauded the initiative which has Nigerian children at the centre of its focus.
“We are really pleased to have begun this partnership with the club,” said Adakosa.
“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.”
As part of the programme, the Giallorossi will send coaching staff to Nigeria to provide local personnel with support, knowledge and know-how.
The Italian club’s long-term plan includes expanding the project to other major cities in Nigeria with construction work already ongoing on sites in Port Harcourt, Yenagoa, Lagos and Benin City.
Kicking off a youth academy in Nigeria is a huge step forward for AS Roma. The Club began their digital romance with the African giants ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
With the Italian national team not qualifying for the tournament proper, Roma adopted the Super Eagles and supported Gernot Rohr’s men until their group stage exit at the Mundial.
Nigeria won only one match against first-timers Iceland and lost to Croatia and a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina.
But AS Roma would not be discouraged with the Serie A side strengthening their Nigerian bond by creating a Pidgin-language social media account, along with a subsequent partnership with the Nigerian Football Federation.