No fewer than 6,000 young footballers participated in the Zonal Trials of the ongoing Oceanic Football Talent Hunt with Jay Jay Okocha over the weekend at the playing ground of the Nigeria Army cantonment at Ikeja, Lagos.
This came just as the new Managing Director of Oceanic Bank International Plc, Mr. John Aboh, gave his nod for the continuation of the project, saying the football talent hunt could not have come at a better time than now.
Mr. Aboh gave his blessings when Austin Okocha, the coordinator of the project, paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Victoria Island, Lagos. He said a lot of people would have been wondering what would become of the talent hunt following the change in the bankâ€™s management and declared that the new management would continue with it.
Said he: “You are an icon. Oceanic Bank will meet every contractual obligation with respect to this project. We are happy to associate with you. This project could not have come at a better time than this as we move to assure our esteemed customer that the bank is safe, sound and solid.â€
In his remark, Okocha reaffirmed his commitment to the success of the talent hunt, saying it is a unique opportunity offered by Oceanic Bank to Nigerian youths to engage their skills.Meanwhile, the Lagos Zonal Trial ended the three_week long exercise during which the youngsters traded tackles under the eagle eyes of foremost Nigerian coaches led by the ex_Super Eagles mid_field maestro, Austin Okocha.
The trials had earlier held in Sokoto, Kano, Enugu, Asaba, and Akure.The youngsters displayed dazzling dribbles and clinical passes to the admiration of Jay_Jay Okocha whose mandate is to prepare the participants for excellent footballing careers.
Jay_Jay described the experience as â€œrevealingâ€, stressing that the quality of soccer artistry exhibited by the participants indicates a great future for Nigeria in the world of soccer.
â€œThat we have these kinds of raw talents that I have witnessed in the trials is unbelievable. I can confidently say that with young stars like these, the task of winning the world cup can be achieved in the near future,â€ he said.
While he was full of praises for the outstanding players, Austin Jay_jay Okocha urged those who did not qualify to hold on to their dreams and train more vigorously to enhance their game.
Speaking at the end of the trial, Okocha said he had come to realize that the problem with Nigeria football was not the shortage of football talents but how to harness them, noting that the â€œboys have shown that they have the skills and are ready to take the opportunities if encouraged and motivated.
He explained that the talent Hunt powered by Oceanic bank is an eye opener for him that Nigeria can go places in football and ranked among top countries like Brazil, England, Spain, Germany, France and other football giants.
The Ex_Super Eagles explained that what Oceanic has done was beyond helping the youths realize their ambition but also helping the country develop its youths and provide them with opportunities to express themselves in their chosen field of soccer, â€œyou know they say the youths of today are the tomorrow leaders and future of the nation, that means Oceanic is helping to build the countyâ€™s tomorrow.â€
He therefore commended Oceanic bank for giving him the opportunity for being part of the efforts to put back in to the society that made him, adding that itâ€™s a privilege to be a coordinator of this noble project.
â€œAs you can see the youths are happy, they came from various places including Maiduguri, that tells you the likeness they have for the game of soccer and I can tell you, some of them are already on the way to stardom.
The Oceanic Football Talent Hunt is a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative by the bank, which is aimed at discovering and promoting young Nigerians with football skills and nurtures them to stardom through international exposure.
The Zonal trials are designed to qualify the top 100 of the footballers for regional trials in Abuja, Owerri and Lagos. The three regional trials would each produce 10 players who would be invited to camp hosted by Jay_jay Okocha in Lagos in a reality television show.
At the end of the camp in Lagos, 14 finalists will emerge. Each one will receive N1m and a brand new car with the Most Valuable Player (MVP) coasting home with a brand new SUV and N1m star prize.
At the end of the programme, efforts would be made to get the successful ones in to major teams both at home and abroad as a way of helping them launch their professional careers in football