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AIPS witnesses foundation-laying ceremony of Real Madrid Academy in Rivers State

L-R: Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, Ambassador of Real Madrid, Ricardo Gallego and President, International Sports Press Association, Gianni Merlo during the press conference to flag off the construction of the Real Madrid Football Academy in Port Harcourt on Monday at the Government House Port Harcourt. (Photo: SWAN)
by Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam, AIPS Young Reporter, Nigeria
PORT HARCOURT, May 28, 2018 - Two days after Real Madrid lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy for an unprecedented third time in Kiev, the foundation of a football academy in its name has been laid over 5000 miles away in Nigeria's oil rich city of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The foundation-laying ceremony marks the realization of the strategic agreement between the Rivers State government and the Spanish giants, which is aimed at developing football in the state, and country.

A dream come true
A Press Conference was held at the Government House Port Harcourt to flag off the construction of the academy in Port Harcourt on Monday where Mr. Iņigo Arenillas, Director of Africa and Middle East, Real Madrid Foundation, remarked: "Thank you to the governor for making our dream come true."

When the Rivers State Governor, His Excellency Nyesom Wike took to his official podium he acknowledged thus: "We are indeed very happy that God has made our dream come to reality."

According to him, some people had expressed disbelief at the possibility of establishing the Real Madrid Academy in Port Harcourt but "we have signed the memorandum of understanding and today we will flag off the foundation," he added.

"This foundation is for our children. I want to sincerely thank the Real Madrid foundation for agreeing to sign this partnership with us.

"Real Madrid are the best club in the world and we are opportuned to be associated with the best club in the world."

Investing in the future
Over two weeks ago, the Governor delivered a presentation on Peace and progress through sports in the Niger Delta at the 81st AIPS Congress in Brussels and he emphasised on the need to meaningfully engage the youths.

This is definitely what the Real Madrid Football Academy is set to achieve as it looks to capture footballing talents between the ages of eight and 16.

AIPS President Gianni Merlo who was a special guest at the press conference also addressed the media.

He said: "I am very happy to be here to witness the foundation-laying of the Real Madrid Academy.

"It is important to invest in the future and this is what your governor is doing with the academy."

Governor Wike and Real Madrid Ambassador Ricardo Gallego fielded questions from journalists to wrap up the press conference after which everyone departed for the ceremony.

The foundation-laying

The flag off ceremony for the construction of the Real Madrid Academy took place at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt.

The event which brought together traditional rulers and other dignitaries like the CAF President Ahmad Ahmad and NFF President Amaju Pinnick, also had players and officials of the state's football clubs, Rivers United and Rivers Angels, in attendance.

CAF President Ahmad Ahmad partook in the foundation-laying ceremony. (Photo by SWAN)


Tarik Elhad, General Manager Real Madrid Football Academy Rivers State, said: "We will take the ideology of the best club in the world and plant it in the ground of Rivers State."

While CAF President added: This academy is not only for Port Harcourt, or Nigeria, it is for Africa.

After the speeches were done, President Ahmad, ably assisted by Pinnick, then laid the first stone of the Real Madrid Football Academy.
The governor has declared that the academy will be commissioned in "seven months' time".
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