ACADEMY WATCH: TREND SETTING GOLDENCHILD FOOTBALL ACADEMY EZIOWELLE

In Nigeria today, many grassroots teams spring up and call themselves football academies. While most of them are at best playmates, or play groups, some of them have a skeletal structure that can be viewed as a nursery team. However, a handful of them have basic infrastructures in place and take really care to scout players and groom the players the players to stardom.

Papilonews.com discovered a model academy, with classrooms, lodging, basic training facilities and equipment etc way off the radar in a village called Eziowelle in Idemili North LGA of Anambra State, Nigeria. It is aptly called Golden Child Football Academy and not too surprisingly, it has strong Western influence, as it is solely owned and financed by Emeka Golden Ikezu, a Swiss Nigerian who spent many years of his life in Switzerland and is married to a lovely Swiss lady and they are blessed with adorable kids. Ikezu’s western influence is glaring in the structure and organization of the academy. Enjoy this:
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The Project: Goldenchild Football Academy
Goldenchild Football Academy is a residential grassroot sports  academy for child, youth and community development project in Anambra state, Nigeria (RC-CAC/IT/NO6819).  A non-profit organization aimed at building a future for poor/indigent Nigeria children and youths through, formal education, sport talent development, and life skills acquization, creating opportunity and enabling environment for them to have brighter and independent life free of crime, poverty and illegality.

The project is designed to develop young talents both boys and girls on teamwork ethics and discpline through football skills. It is aimed at positively engaging the children/youths to keep them off the street.

 The Propreitor/CEO
His name is Emeka Golden Ikezu. He is a Swiss/ Nigeria dual citizen, A former footballer who played active football in Nigeria, India and Swiss regional amature football league. he’s also a former FIFA(SFV) licensed player agent, a referee FVRZ and a SFV C-diploma football coach now doing social community work helping to develop poor but talented young people in Nigeria who dream to play professional football, but whose parents cannot afford to provide education and hope for a meaningful  future. These are mainly children in the rural area who have little or no opportunity to live their dream but may ordinarily be forced into crime e.g, drugs trafficking, arm robbery, illegal or enforced migration and other vices if not for such initiative.

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The Vision
Ikezu decided to take this responsibility upon himself, to give the opportunity which he never had as a child, back to the children and youths in the community where he grew up, to prevent them from taking life threatening risks just to become better in life.

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Project origin
Ikezu’s childhood dream was to play professional football at the top level but he never had the opportunity to develop this dream as he grew up in an environment in Nigeria where little or no attention is paid to education, talent development and children‘s right to dream.
He almost lost his life in 2003 in an attempt to cross over to Europe through the Sahara desert of north Africa and the Mediterranean Sea in pursuit of his dream which is to play professional football in Europe and to become better in life.
He finally got to Europe and began to see how children in Europe were getting support, quality education with talent development which helps to prepare them for life. he strongly believes that if the same enabling circumstance and fairplay environment is provided for children in Africa,the issue of crime and illegal or enforced migration, could be better managed.

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The Mission
The mission is to take as many children and youths as possible off the street and offer them hope for better life, using football and education as empowerment tool, so they can help their families and join hands in developing their communities. Even if few of the children and youths in Nigeria benefits from this project, we are certainly making a big impact.

Ikezu always felt that someone should do this, until he realised that he is someone. He has always asked himself this question, “If not me who and if not now when?”

 Who is a Goldenchild?
A child born in Nigeria is an example of a Goldenchild. Born in a land richly blessed in both human and natural mineral resources, one of the world’s largest exporter of oil yet 75% of its inhabitants lives in abject poverty . The children have little or  no assess to education, talent development and their right to dream. In the world today, the goldenchild is being labelled a criminal,fraudster, illegal migrant, drug dealer e.t.c, but the truth remains that the goldenchild is left with no other option to survival than the hard way, the only way.

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Numbers
The organization currently has up to 25 trainees between 12-18 years old registered with it most of whom are resident in the academy hostel, going to school and absolving football training as well as learning other life skills of their choices..
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Facilities
With the help of his close friends and supporters from Switzerland, Ikezu has provided shelter, support for education, food, water, training materials and football skill training for less privileged but talented children and youths in the rural communities. The trainees are mostly from financially challenged families surviving with less than two US dollars a day.

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Goldenchild Project core values
Unlike other organizations of its kind, GoldenChild Football Academy is modeled towards holistic development of children and youths to ensure that trainees of the academy remain useful, resourceful and responsible members of society even if they don’t excel in football. We believe in the power of people, they might only need some initial empowerment. We know that talent development with good education empowers children and youths by allowing them to take their future into their own hands and play an active role in shaping it.

Challenges
Providing food, clean drinking water, support for education, medical care and hiring/ advance training of staff and building of sports facilities.

Star to Watch: Tochukwu Nwoye.
Tochukwu is a natural defensive midfielder, a very strong marker of the ball with good vision for long passes, he can also fit into every other position in the back four. Born 25th of February 1999,(17 years old) Tochukwu’splay is similar in style with Chelsea’s John Mikel OBI but he must still seriously work on his ball skills and self confidence to stamp authority in the midfield zone.
Weight -68 ,   Height – 1.9m still growing.

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Contacts:
Switzerland contact:-
Emeka Golden Ikezu
Grünauring 33,
8064 Zürich,
Switzerland.
Phone:- +41 7979796453.

Nigeria contact:-
Emeka Golden Ikezu
Goldenchild Football Academy,
P.O. BOX 107,
Eziowelle, Idemilli north L.G.A,
Anambra state, Nigeria.
Phone:-  +2348160181924/ +234804235656
email:-    emeka@goldenchildfa.org.ng
email:-    contact@goldenchildfa.org.ng
website:- www.goldenchildfa.org.ng