The game scheduled for the 30st of July 2015 at the National Stadium, Abuja is the culmination of months of negotiations between the management team of the ‘Soaring Eaglets’ and the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF).
Football plays a vital part in the development of young boys and girls throughout the world and provides an honest and focus orientated alternative to negative vices such as youth crime and gang violence.
A search began in various academies, schools and youth teams in the UK looking for players with prodigious talent, of Nigerian background. He managed to pull together a large pool of player’s ready and eager to wear the green, white, green thus signaling the beginning of, Team Nigeria UK.
Numerous trials took place to select the standing team of Team Nigeria UK, with the final selection process taking place at the world famous St Georges Park, home of the England national football team, with over 800 teenagers in attendance
Since their creation, Team Nigeria UK, made up boys between the ages of 14-17 have gone on to face a series of UK based professional academies included the likes of Birmingham City , QPR, Bristol FC, Bury FC, and Millwall FC.
The team crowned their transformation by winning the maiden edition of the African Nations Cup UK Tournament (Junior’s Category) in June 2014 and retained the championship in the recently concluded 2015 competition. (www.africannationscupuk.com).
With the confidence and momentum of the team growing, the management of Team Nigeria UK felt the opportunity was ripe to contact the NFF and request a chance of playing the much revered and highly regarded Golden Eaglets, the most successful under-17 team in FIFA competition history.
The NFF, realising the importance of a match of such magnitude and continuing with their policy of active youth engagement, readily agreed to the proposal and offered the use of the 65,000 seater Abuja National Stadium as the venue of the match, thus officially flagging off, ‘Clash of the Eaglets’
The Golden Eaglets are managed by former Barcelona Star and Nigeria National Team player, Emmanuel Amuneke, a mercurial winger from the golden era of the Super Eagles. The Eaglets will be looking towards defending their U-17 world title in October at the 16th edition of the Under-17 World Cup taking place in Chile and view the match up as a vital piece of preparation in the run up to the tournament.
The game gives Amuneke the chance to see the best Nigeria has to offer at that age range in the UK, Europe, USA, and Canada who knows, a few might catch the coach’s eye and graduate from the ‘Soaring Eaglets’ to the ‘Golden Eaglets’.
The trip will also afford the players of Team Nigeria UK the opportunity to visit orphanages and some selected local football teams to support them with football kits and other gift items. This is in line with Team Nigeria UK’s values of enriching the lives of underprivileged children through the power of football and sports in general.
The match is a watershed moment for Nigerian youth football and is being supported by an array of eminent personalities including The Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK ,HE Dr Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, and NFF President Amuju Pinnick alongside corporate bodies such as Tasty African, Guaranteed Trust Bank, CANUK and British Airways.
The team will also be hosted before their departure by the Nigerian High Commissioner to UK on the 22nd of July as a send-off for the team along with their ambassadors which include Former Nigerian internationals, Seyi Olofinjana, Ade Akinbiyi, Daniel Uchechi, Nigerian track and field athlete Super Blessing Okagbare, Nigerian-born singer and daughter of Famous Nigerian football legend Segun Odegbami May7ven, Lateef Lovejoy Comedian, and Tijani Zayyad.
The Match is scheduled for the 30th of July 2015 and the team will my traveling with a contingent of 22 players and 8 officials and for many, it will be the first time visiting their parent’s country.
As the weeks wind down to the showpiece event and the level of interest and excitement grows it is clear to seethat the game represents a new era in Nigerian youth football. And as the training for both teams reaches the business end, we eagerly await what will surely be, a match to remember.