Celtic Juniors Kits Given New Lease of Life in Nigeria

Stalybridge Celtic Juniors kits have been given a new lease of life by three clubs in Lagos, Nigeria

The kits, which players here had grown out of and so were replaced, were transported to Nigeria by Celtic Juniors volunteer coach Charles Maduemezia. Charles, who coaches with the under 14s Whites Colts, regularly travels to Nigeria and shared the donated kits between three clubs there.

One of those clubs is Wembley Academy FC. “Welcome to Wembley Stadium” reads the sign on the railing of a flyover, but this Wembley is not in Britain — it’s under the connecting bridge along the Ojuelegba- Ikorodu road here.

Nor does it have the 80,000-capacity of its English namesake. The barbed-wire that surrounds its main field, a concrete floor roughly the size of a tennis court, separates it from about 500 spectators.

We name it Wembley because of the shape of the place and also because it is shielded from the sun and rain by the flyover,” explains Omos Joseph, President of the Wembley ‘International’ Football Association (WIFA).

WIFA co-ordinates street football in Jibowu, a community in Lagos. “We have used the under-bridge space since 1976 but WIFA only came to be in 1994 with the aims of regulating and controlling football within the streets of this community,” Joseph tells IPS.

The association organises league matches for Jibowa’s eight streets and sponsors a Football Association (FA) cup and an Easter cup competitions there. The FA cup has monetary awards: 3,000 naira (about 37 U.S. dollars) for the winner, 2,500 for the runners-up and 2,000 naira for the third place. In the other two tourneys, successful teams get shields.

The Association also runs a football academy for boys aged 10 to 15 years. So far, four of its students have reached Nigeria’s first division.

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