Nigerian legend Yakubu impressed with Malawi’s grassroots football development

Former Nigerian international star Yakubu Ayigbeni, who visited Malawi from Thursday as part of FIFA Foundation delegation, said that he is impressed with Malawi’s grassroots football, saying there is a hope for a brighter future in as far as football development is concerned in the country.

Yakubu interacting with the kids
Yakubu interacting with the kids
Yakubu interacting with the kids

He visited Malawi in the company of the FIFA Foundation enroute from Mozambique on a mission to assess the areas affected by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe to see where the Foundation can help to renovate affected football/sport infrastructure.

Yakubu and the FIFA delegation visited Chikwawa and Nsanje on Friday where the floods were most affected and in Nsanje, the former Super Eagle interacted with victim children who are camped at the Nsanje Community Ground.

After having football training clinics with the boys, Yakubu said provided with a better development environment, the young players he interacted with can excellently progress in their football careers.

“The situation here is not nice but these youngsters have the dream and passion to play football and there have all the potential. They are really good and there is this one player, he is really a genius. He is good with speed and hopefully, he will be one of the best players in the future.

“My coming here is to show the boys, through my experience, that they need to work hard and dedicate themselves in the game for them to make it. I would therefore like to call upon the FIFA Foundation to support the boys and build something here because there is hope and potential in them,” said Ayegben.

FIFA Foundation project manager, Segbe Pritchett said they  will angage FAM to discuss on possible means to help the area.

“As FIFA Foundation, one of our values is to support whenever there is a natural disasters. So following the Cyclone Idai that hit the southern part of Africa, we are here to assess the damage and discuss with the the Football Association of Malawi to see if it’s possible to construct something here — be it a football pitch or stadium, depending on the damage that has been cause as well as the need of the community.

“We know that school is vital for the kids but sport is equally important for their wellbeing. So as they are going to school, we want to make sure that their talents is not forgotten, hence our coming,” Pritchett said.

Established in 2018, the FIFA Foundation is an independent entity whose goal is to use the power of football to promote positive social change.

FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda hailed FIFA Foundation for the gesture, saying that sports is most of the times negleted when there is a natural disaster.

“This is a very good gesture to look at what football infrastructure had been destroyed by the Cyclone because socially, when natural disasters have occurred social amenities are also destroyed.

“It is very important to consider these people because sports forms an integral part of a human being. So after natural disasters, the psychological recovery of people need to be worked out and this can only be done by having social activities like sporting activities that will make them sober up,” he said.

Most Malawians will remember Ayegbeni (born 22 November 1982), as one Super Eagle that once played against the Flames at the Kamuzu Stadium in their squad that also had the legend Austin Jay Jay Okocha.

Teams he has played for are Maccabi Haifa (2002-03) that earned him a loan move to English club Portsmouth which became permanent as they were promoted to the Premier League in 2003.

He appeared in over 250 Premier League matches for Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Everton and Blackburn Rovers and is the second highest African goalscorer in Premier League history with 96 goals.

Yakubu is the third highest scorer in the history of the Nigeria’s Super Eagles  and represented them at four Africa Cup of Nations finals, the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2000 Summer Olympics.

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