Entering into the serene environment of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Ibadan, Oyo State, where the 40 students (30 boys and 10 girls) were camped for the 2015 annual Camp GTBank, one would have no doubt that these 40 lucky students are in a heaven of some sort.
The atmosphere is so conducive that even former Nigerian international, who interestingly is also one of the coaches that were inspiring the students, admitted that IITA, could serve as a good camping venue for the national team. Kunle Adewale, who witnessed the last day of the camping exercise reports that GTBank is really building a future for Nigerian football
The 40 students for the Camp GTBank were selected based on their exemplary performances in the Lagos and Ogun State Principals Cup and the Masters Cup, and for them, it was the best thing to have happened to their lives.
For most of the students, it was as if the Camp GTBank should last forever as many of them had never been afforded this kind of opportunity to meet with football stars that had made this country proud in the past, to them it was a dream come true.
14 year old Ishola Damilare a student of Pakoto High school, Ayede-Ifo, who was picked for the camp after his exemplary performance in the finals of the GTBank Ogun State Principal Cup where he was voted the Most Valuable Player of the game, could not hide his joy after he was counted worthy for Camp GTBank.
“When I set my eyes on Victor Ikpeba, it was as if I was in paradise. I could not believe my eyes. It was as if I was dreaming. Could these be the same Prince of Monaco I see on television that I am coming face-face with, I asked myself. Everything was just like a dream,” Damilare said.
The Pakoto High school student said he had learnt a lot to improve his football skills from the calibre of coaches that were with them in camp.
“After six days in Camp GTBank I can boldly say I’m a better player now and I thank GTBank for this rare opportunity,” he said.
For, Joshua Akpudje, who was abandoned by his father when he was five years, GTBank had revived his spirit after he was dropped from the national U17 camp.
He is indeed thanking the foremost bank for helping him achieve his dream.
“My dream is to play for Manchester United and I believe GTBank would help me actualise my dream. It has not only been football as we have been told since our arrival in camp that our education should go alongside football if we want to be successful in life,” Akpudje stated.
In his own submission, one of the instructors, who interestingly is a member of the Technical Committee of the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, Victor Ikpeba, said he was happy to be an inspiration to the young lads.
“I’m a product of the Principals Cup too and my aim is to inspire these young kids as much as possible, and you can see the excitements from the students that they are enjoying themselves. I hope they’ve learnt a lot from Camp GTBank which they will take back to their respective schools. But the truth is that not all of them would get to play football at the end of the day and that is why the sponsors, GTBank, have been particular hammering it on the students to concentrate on their studies alongside playing football.
The former African Footballer of the Year, thanked GTBank for the initiative, while craving for an extension of the camp’s duration to get the best out of the students.
“We’ve identified some talents since our arrival and in a year or two they could make it to the junior national team. In this one week we played fatherly role to them but one week is not really enough and I’m craving the indulgence of the sponsors and organisers of the camp to try and extend the camping during to two weeks so as to get the best out of them,” Ikpeba noted
The 40 selected students had been taken through extensive training sessions on strategy, tactics and conditioning and had interacted with coaches and mentors on and off the pitch. The camp had helped fine-tune their skills.
According to the Managing Director/CEO of GTBank, Segun Agbaje, “The Bank remains a big supporter of sports, as a vehicle to mentor students and develop their talents. He also reaffirmed the Bank’s commitment to the promotion of youth sports development and said that this year’s competition would again provide the students a platform to showcase their skills and further bolster the rekindled faith of Nigerians in home grown talents.”
There is no doubt that with the continued support of GTBank, through its annual camping the sky is the limit for Nigeria’s football