The League Management Company (LMC) has said that the recently concluded Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) U-15 Promises Tournament could jumpstart a sustainable youth football culture in the nation’s top flight.
LMC’s Media Officer and Head of Special Projects, Harry Iwuala expressed the hope on Thursday in a statement in Lagos.
The statement said he made the assertion when he represented LMC’s Chairman, Shehu Dikko, at the closing ceremony of the U-15 League.
Iwuala said that participating clubs were enjoined to take the lessons at the U-15 league as a call to implement experiences gained during the tour of Spain at the instance of LaLiga last year.
“First, it was a platform to expose the young players but most importantly, it was an activity to get the NPFL clubs to set up youth teams.
“This is as opposed to the practice of what is called Feeder teams made up of largely players who didn’t fit into their main squad but not necessarily young players.
“Part of the objective of creating youth teams in NPFL clubs is to grow a club philosophy and raise a pool of young players that will continually replace the older ones.
“What we have done over the last one month is not basically to see which club is the best,’’ he said.
It added that “we never set out to make them competitive because that will defeat the essence of having a stream of young players who will transit to the main squad.
“This is simply a beginning of a sustainable platform to identify local talents, harness them and offer them a career.
“The implementation hasn’t hit the perfect mark but a lot has been learnt from this pilot scheme.
“It was basically a trial scheme and we have taken notes of the gaps as much as we also took cognisance of the positives.
“The good aspects will be improved on, while we will work to remedy all observed weaknesses,’’ the statement quoted Iwuala as saying.
He said that most of the clubs simply went to town and gathered young players from their neighbourhoods but our objective is for them to set up cadres of youth teams from eight years to 15.
“They are also to provide youth coaches and then train the players.
“In the long run, it is the clubs that will benefit from it as they will have a ready pull of young talents to recruit into the main squad and reduce their spending on transfers.
“They also will make money in the sale of these players to clubs within and outside the country,’’ it also quoted the LMC spokesman as saying.
He said that all the 20 NPFL clubs participated in the tournament which began with zonal eliminations in four centres — Owerri, Osogbo, Kaduna and Abuja.
“The top two from each centre qualified for another two groups’ play-off in Lagos which saw ABS FC and Katsina United reaching the final.
“Niger Tornadoes and Rangers International played for the third place honours.
“Tornadoes won 1-0 to finish third ahead of Rangers, while ABS beat Katsina United 3-1 in the final on April 29,’’ the statement read.