Nigeria defender Shittu runs competition for Nigerian youngsters
Nigeria defender Daniel Shittu has set up a competition that will see one lucky Nigerian footballer win a year’s contract with a top Belgian side.
The Soccer Star Project will consist of regional trials throughout Nigeria from which one winner will be chosen.
Shittu says he wants Nigerian youngsters to fulfil their ambitions. “I’m only interested in seeing people live their dreams,” he told BBC Sport.
Open trials will be held in Enugu, Kano, Kaduna, Abuja and Lagos with ten players aged between 16-24 years chosen from each region.
The 50 young footballers will then head for a final round of trials in December from which one winner will emerge.
The lucky youngster will be given a one-year contract with Belgian first division side Royal Charleroi. Two other players will win football scholarships to an American university.
According to Shittu, who was in the Nigerian team at the World Cup in South Africa, the idea stems from his desire to give something back to the Nigerian youth.
“Those of us that play for the national team are not necessarily the best players, we are just the lucky ones,” Shittu said.
“I know how hard it is to earn a place in Europe and because of this many youngsters haven’t had the opportunity to show [what they can do].
“I was rejected five times when I was growing up myself so I know how it feels. This is not like any other academy or game show, so only hard work and ability will influence the scouts,” he continued.
Shittu says he also hopes the trial will lead to more youngsters receiving educational scholarships.
“There is also an opportunity for some people to earn a four-year scholarship at an American university or college,” Shittu said.
“Scouts will be coming from the USA for the final trial and if some fail to make the football grade then their educational intelligence could land them scholarships.
“We are not just looking at football ability but also at character, attitude and sound educational background.”
Each of the top three players from the final trial will also get a cash prize of about $700. The competition will run from October to December.
From BBC Sport