Waqas Naeem – Express Tribune
ISLAMABAD: The Nigerian High Commission in Pakistan formally took a football academy being run by Nigerian players in Islamabad under its wing, in a bid to support young Pakistani footballers and create a sporting link between the two countries.
Nigerian player Emeka Aliewa has been running the Mescon Islamabad Football Academy (MIFA) at the F-10/3 ground for at least three years now.
On Monday, during a ceremony at the same ground, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Dauda Danladi, announced a donation of Rs100,000 for the MIFA.
He also promised that he would bring Nigerian coaches to Pakistan to train school and college-aged players.
“The Nigerian government is determined to encourage the sport among the youth of Pakistan,” said Danladi, whose country’s football team won the 2013 African Cup of Nations.
Meanwhile, Aliewa stated that the Nigerian players, including himself, have been training Pakistani students in football on and off for nine years now.
But with the formal launch of MIFA, which falls under the umbrella of the Islamabad Football Association, Aliewa said the collaboration would make the scenario more stable.
In previous interviews with The Express Tribune, Aliewa had expressed his desire to train at least one young Pakistani footballer to a level at which the player could get a contract with a league club in Europe.
MIFA Patron-in-chief Asiwaju Omomolesho appreciated the Nigerian High Commissioner’s interest in supporting football in Pakistan. Omomolesho also declared Danladi the founding president of MIFA.
Top Nigerian diplomats, football players, members of the football association, students and parents attended the ceremony on Monday. Young football players also played an exhibition match.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 11th, 2014.