THE EDUCATOR - July 23 2018



As Commander 14 Brigade Ohafia Salutes Ikechukwu Apugo's Youth Development Initiatives

By Henry Uwalaka

The Annual Diamond National Youth Soccer Tournament (DIAMOND CUP 2018) Organised by Diamond Football Academy DFA which ended on Thursday 19th July has left many with the conviction that the Academy is laying a solid foundation to harness the untapped resources of young talented African players.

The Annual Diamond National Youth Soccer Cup which started in 2012 was designed to create a platform to discover young talented African footballers and take them to a greater height to possibly take the lead in international football.

As a vission to make Diamond Football Academy a reference point for youth soccer development in Africa, the Academy is out to partner with brands, major Stakeholders, Government Agencies and well-meaning Africans to lay a solid foundation for youth soccer development in Africa.

The Diamond soccer tournament packaged for youth teams and academies in Nigeria which has been rated as one of the best youth soccer tournaments in Africa by foreign scouts and football managers in the world is being attended by about ten soccer academies and youth teams in Nigeria.

Diamond Football Academy is said to have invested hugely for the past six years in area of players' development and upgrading of their technical crew which led to brilliant performance in their participation in major youth soccer tounaments in Africa and other parts of the world.

For instance, Diamond Football Academy team emerged as overall champions of IBER CUP in Estoril, Portugal in 2013 after beating Napoli, Sevilla, Atletico CP and SC Villa Maria youth teams. And it was this championship that brought Kelechi Nwakali, and Samuel Chukwueze, who were with Diamond Football Academy then into football limelight and led to their invitation to the U-17 National team (Golden Eaglets) by Coach Emmanuel Amuneke. The total commitment and hard work of Diamond Football Academy paid off in the lives of these two young talented players as they won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in chile for the fifth time. Kelechi Nwakali, an Arsenal F.C who is currently on loan to F.C Porto won the most valuable player, while Samuel Chukwueze won the Adidas Bronze Boot and scored the fastest goal at the tournament. Also, Chukwuebuka Iroha who were part of Diamond F.A that won the IBERCUP in Estoril, portugal was called up by Samson Siasia to the U-23 National team (Green Eagle) and later joined Clube Desportivo Portosantence S.A.D of Portugal.

Other Diamond F.A graduates playing in Europe includes Junior Pius Udeme (F.C Porto Portugal), Jack Ipabebo (Villareal F.C Spain), David Isah (Slovan Librec Czech Republic), Chukwuma (Portugal).

President of Portuguese Club side Nacional Madeira, Macedo Alvarez Rui Antonio, Madeira vice-president Deadreu Rodriquez Federico Augusto,  top scouts such as Paulo Desaria (Portugal), PSG scout Rolland Merci and Didier Sitou from France who were the foriegn special guest at the Diamond Youth Soccer Tournament 2018 in Umuahia Abia State never failed to appreciate every moment of  that youth Soccer tournament, and gave kudos to the president of Diamond Football Academy, Martin Ikechukwu Apugo for taking the academy to that greater height.

In his visit at the finals of Diamond Youth Soccer Tournament, the Commander 14 Brigade of Nigerian Army Ohafia Abia State, Brigagier General AK Ibrahim appreciated the effort of the president Diamond Football Academy, Hon. Martins Ikechukwu Apugo to reduce the rate of youth restiveness and insecurity by getting them off the streets and give them a better life.

Also in his speach, Ejikeme Ikwunze (Mr. Football), thanked the president Diamond F.A, Ikechukwu Apugo for making the biggest sacrifice for humanity, adding that for what he has done so far, the society will not forget his effort and commitment to youths development in a hurry. He also thanked the Diamond F.A team that won the trophy for their brilliant performance, other Participated teams and their coaches as well as other dignitaries that find time to support the Diamond Youth Soccer Festival.

The President Diamond Football Academy, Hon. Ikechukwu Apugo in his reaction, said the future and success of football in Africa lies in the youth soccer development, adding that everything must be done to discover young talented players, nurture them to take up from the older once and possibly move Africa Football to take over the global centre stage.

“Kelechi Nwakali who is doing Nigeria proud today in international Football was from Diamond Football Academy. When he came to Diamond, he was not that good, but we trained him in Diamond, took them to Portugal for a competition which we won. I saw the talent in him from the beginning, and that is why I went to that far in bringing out the best in them. Not only Kelechi Nwakali and Samuel Chukwueze, there are several of them in Europe playing real football. And also in Diamond we have many of them who are waiting for their opportunity to come.”

“Any Products from Diamond is exceptional because of the kind of training we give them. We have the European system of training our players. What we give them here is exactly what they give them in Europe. If you train in Daimond, it will be easy for you in Europe”, Apugo said.

Two brilliant Diamond F.A players, Michael Dominion who won the best player award at the Diamond Youth Soccer tournament and Nwaeke Francis Expressed satisfaction over the quality of training, team spirit and good management, adding that their dreams are to reach at the peak of their chosen career