John Wak­ili: Why WACO Academy didn’t ben­e­fit from Omeruo, Rabiu’s trans­fer to Europe

Weekly Trust - - Trust Sports - David Ngobua

The Founder and Man­ager of WACO Foot­ball Academy Abuja, John Wak­ili has said due to lack of knowl­edge, agents who took for­mer Super Ea­gles play­ers, Ken­neth Omeruo and Rabiu Ibrahim from his academy didn’t pay for the play­ers. The for­mer Agric Lions and Taraba United player also spoke on the chal­lenges of run­ning a foot­ball academy in Nige­ria.

How did WACO Academy come into ex­is­tence? I started Waco Foot­ball Academy in 1995. Al­though I was still play­ing ac­tive foot­ball for NYSC, I couldn’t re­sist the urge to start groom­ing stars of to­mor­row. I used to go to sec­ondary schools in Abuja to pick in­ter­ested boys to join the academy. I was train­ing them at the Area Three play­ground. Al­though I left NYSC to play for Taraba United, I en­gaged a coach to take care of the academy. When I fi­nally re­turned to Abuja, I took over.

Have you achieved the ob­jec­tive for set­ting up the academy?

I will say yes be­cause we have made tremen­dous progress from 1995 to date. The academy has con­tin­ued to grow in leaps and bounds. At the mo­ment, my play­ers are ev­ery­where in Nige­rian foot­ball. Some are play­ing for Na­tional League clubs and some are in the Nige­ria Pro­fes­sional Foot­ball League. I have a player in Kwara United and one has just signed for Kano Pil­lars. It will also in­ter­est you to know that we have pro­duced Super Ea­gles play­ers. Only a few peo­ple know that Ken­neth Omeruo, Rabiu Ibrahim and Daniel Etor started their foot­ball ca­reer in WACO Academy.

Con­sid­er­ing the pro­file of some of the play­ers you have men­tioned, your academy must be swim­ming in money. How rich is WACO Academy?

It will sur­prise you to know that we didn’t get any­thing for the trans­fer of these play­ers. There was no proper doc­u­men­ta­tion so agents just came and took these play­ers away. I didn’t go into any for­mal agree­ment with the agents. It is like I just did char­ity work. Un­for­tu­nately, none of the agents has re­mem­bered to come back and in­vest in the academy.

Do the play­ers on their own come around to give sup­port to the academy?

To be hon­est with you, some of them are do­ing their best. They have been sup­port­ive. Some send us train­ing kits while oth­ers buy balls for the academy. We ap­pre­ci­ate the fact that they have not com­pletely for­got­ten about us. Some­one like Daniel Etor who is now in Oman comes around to train with us when he is in Nige­ria.

What have you done to en­sure that hence­forth your academy ben­e­fits from the trans­fer of play­ers?

I have learnt from my past mis­takes. You know I just started so I lacked the knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence. Agents who took un­due ad­van­tage of me won’t suc­ceed again. I have done all the nec­es­sary doc­u­men­ta­tion of my play­ers. None of my play­ers can leave with­out my con­sent. My play­ers in the NPFL are in these clubs on free loan. I can re­call them to the academy any­time we get a good of­fer from abroad. The tar­get is to trans­fer them to Euro­pean clubs. It will also in­ter­est you to know that the lit­tle money we re­ceived Kwara United for Alo was what hap­pened us to pros­e­cute the FCT FA League. By the grace of God we de­fended our ti­tle and are going to par­tic­i­pate in the am­a­teur league play­off.

What does it take for a player to join WACO Academy?

First, you must have the abil­ity to play foot­ball. Apart from abil­ity, an ap­pli­cant must show the re­quired in­ter­est and com­mit­ment. We don’t just ac­cept every­body. When you have met our con­di­tions, you are then ex­pected to pay a reg­is­tra­tion fee of N40,000 for a year. Once you pay, you are given two pairs of jer­seys and an Iden­tity card. Since we have no spon­sor, we use part of the reg­is­tra­tion fees to run the academy.

What was the ma­jor chal­lenge you faced when the academy started?

I will say we suf­fered from the lack of equip­ment and train­ing kits. It was the par­ents of the play­ers that kept the academy going. Some of them usu­ally come for­ward to ask what we needed. Some bought balls and jer­seys for us. I will say the academy was spon­sored sub­stan­tially by par­ents.

Are you suf­fi­ciently trained to be able to coach your play­ers?

Yes, I have made sure that I am ad­e­quately trained to be able to im­part knowl­edge of foot­ball on my play­ers. Two years ago, I did the CAF ‘C’ li­cence course. Be­fore then, I had grad­u­ated from the Na­tional In­sti­tute for Sports. Also, I have at­tended dif­fer­ent coach­ing clin­ics and sem­i­nars to ac­quire more coach­ing skills.

How much sup­port do you get from the Nige­ria Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion?

We own­ers of Foot­ball acad­e­mies are not get­ting the re­quired sup­port from the Nige­ria Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion. We have con­tin­ued to do it on our own with­out any sup­port. Even with­out sup­port, we have con­tin­ued to pro­duce play­ers for the na­tional teams. Like I told you ear­lier, some of my play­ers have played for the Super Ea­gles. I be­lieve if the foot­ball fed­er­a­tion would sup­port us, we would be able to do more. I can pro­duce good play­ers if given the nec­es­sary sup­port.

What does it take for one to coach and suc­ceed with young play­ers?

You see these are boys who are between ages 13 and 14, they need to be han­dled with care. They are still frag­ile so any­thing can break them psy­cho­log­i­cally. To suc­ceed with them, you must be a fa­ther, brother and friend. If you are harsh on them, they would lose self-con­fi­dence. I re­late with my play­ers as if they are my chil­dren. We do ev­ery­thing like one united fam­ily. Some­times, I take them to Jabi lake to re­lax and learn other things out­side foot­ball.

How did you start your foot­ball ca­reer?

I was the cap­tain of my school, Barewa Col­lege Zaria. How­ever, when I lost my un­cle who was my spon­sor, I couldn’t fur­ther my ed­u­ca­tion. I then de­cided to take up foot­ball as a ca­reer. I played for Na­tional Steel FC Kaduna. When the coach of the club left to han­dle an­other club in Abuja, he in­sisted that I must come with him. Thrice I came but couldn’t stay. How­ever, my fam­ily de­cided I should just try and stay in Abuja. That was how I joined Agric Lions. From Agric Lions, I moved to NYSC FC. It was when I played against Taraba United that they saw me and didn’t al­low me to come back to Abuja. So I was signed by Taraba United where I played for three years. I was in the squad that brought Taraba United to the pro­fes­sional league. Along the line, I was in­jured so I couldn’t con­tinue. I then re­turned to Abuja and was ap­pointed coach of the fe­male team, FCT Queens. I was coach­ing the team and also manag­ing my academy.

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