You will agree that the spate of foreign football giants to Nigeria is the in-thing with the likes of Barcelona, Paris Saint Germain of France and West Ham United all looking to set up their academies in the country.
Last week, we did hit you with the reports about a Nigerian company, Irukka partnering with Paris Saint Germain. We also reveled the profile of the man behind the idea, Mr. Ifeanyi Onwubiko, PageOne Sports Business crew caught up with the Chief Executive Officer of Irukka.com, Nigeria’s first online mall for musical equipment. As a successful business man, he is also the Chairman of Golden Tulip Hotels.
In an exclusive interview, Mr. Ifeanyi Onwubiko intimated us about the PSG Academy Agreement, the unique template of how the academy will run in Nigeria.
What is your vision for the PSG Academy?
The truth is that our football is not developing, and we saw a need to help the game move forward. If you look at where we are today as a footballing nation, you will agree with me that we deserve a place in the highest of heights but something is fundamentally wrong, and this is what we have decided to correct with this partnership. We want to produce products that will win the world cup in a few more years to come.
How long did it take you to reach this deal?
To be honest, we have been chasing this deal for quite sometime now since we realized the need for it. Let’s say the team has been chasing this deal about about 5 years now and we are happy it finally materialized.
In terms of reach of the academy, how many states are you willing to target?\
Our plan is to work with all the states in the country which will be achieved in regions. By this we are able to give as many players as possible equal opportunity to showcase their talents in the programme. As long as you can play football, come and show us what you’ve got, and we will take it from there.
Can you give us an idea of the number of players you are looking at building?
We are looking at having about 15 players moved to France every year.
Why the choice of Paris Saint Germain for this project?
We decided to go with PSG because the club has a fundamental structure on ground which matches what we are looking for. Take for instance, if we decide to partner with an English club, before the player can feature in the premier league it will take some time, and we do not want a deal that will stall our player from participating at the highest level as far as they can compete at that level. In England, there is an entry barrier where the player must have about 70% national team experience, getting working permit and other thing. With PSG, we are sure that the player will develop fast.
Can you give us an idea of what you are looking at investing in this programme?
What we are doing is to give the programme all it takes to make it a reality. We are putting in so much in terms of personnel, ideas, fund and we have just to make sure the programme runs efficiently.
You have invested in other successful business, will you like to share some of the learnings you gained that you will imbibe in running the academy?
Well, with our success over the years, we are definitely working with information, coupled with the fact that we will incorporate Paris Saint Germain’s template and also experience coaches from home and abroad. Our partners, Goal-to-Post Sports Agency led by Abiodun Tella who are also well experienced in the business, and with this team we believe we can achieve the greatness we desire.
What does this partnership mean for your company Irukka?
Basically, for an online company that decided to key into this programme, this is just our own way of contributing to the society, corporate social responsibility as you may call it. We want to assist the nation and the less privilege footballers who are looking at reaching their dreams. Irukka has been a leading brand working with the best and oldest brands in the music equipment industry which Wharfedale a British brand that has been in Nigeria for over 200 years.
With the state of the nation, how is importation Policy affecting your business?
It is not something peculiar to our business alone, everyone in the country is experiencing the hard time which the government is trying to do something about . As far a you can source for foreign exchange, I think you can continue being in business.