Former Chelsea and Nigeria Midfielder John Obi Mikel has launched a talent hunt series. The talent hunt series dubbed “Africa’s Next Football Superstar” seeks to discover young talent so that it can be properly nurtured. The series will be held in three African nations- Nigeria, South Africa, and Algeria. It is impressive to see such initiatives from successful African footballers. Some young lads from these countries are just about to get an opportunity of a lifetime.
John Obi Mikel is a decorated footballer who has played on the world’s grandest soccer platforms. Right now, he plays for Tianjin Teda in China, as his blissful career nears to a close. He is certainly one of the most decorated African footballers. Among his biggest achievements are winning the UEFA Champions League with Chelsea in 2012, and winning the African Cup of Nations with Nigeria in 2013. His involvement in bringing up young talent in Africa can certainly yield amazing results.
The Talent Hunt
Kids between the ages of 13 and 16 will be eligible for the series. Five winners will be selected from each of the three countries. They will be tested and narrowed down to nine. The nine young lads will have the privilege of going on an all-expenses-paid trip to the UK. They will get trials with top English clubs for a period spanning two weeks, with a chance to bag a one-year contract with the club’s youth team.
The trials in Nigeria will be held in Lagos on March 15th 2019, Port Harcourt on 18th, and Abuja on 20th. The finals are scheduled for May 2-9 2019.
There is a lot of raw talent in Africa that needs to be nurtured well. Initiatives like these aimed at tapping into young talent will make African nations football powerhouses in the few years to come. The lack of proper training resources and systems is always a major hindrance to budding talent.
The talent hunt will be an annual series. It will give a chance to talented young people to launch their football career. Such chances are always difficult to come by for African youth.
About John Obi Mikel
John Obi Mikel has had an illustrious career, both at national and club levels. Born on 22nd April 1981 in Jos, Nigeria. Mikel started his footballing career at a young age when he was selected by the Pepsi Football Academy to join their camp. He was twelve then.
He went on to represent his country in the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championships in Finland. He was also signed by Lyn, a Norwegian club. Mikel then got his big break after his controversial move to Chelsea in 2006. Manchester United had claimed to have signed him first.
Mikel featured for Chelsea for the next 11 seasons. He was generally quite impressive through all this time and had been a regular starter in most of the seasons. Through the 11 seasons he won the UEFA Champions League once, the English Premier League twice, the English FA Cup four times, the English League Cup twice, and the Europa League once.
His contract was not renewed by Chelsea when it expired in 2017. He moved to Chinese club Tianjin TEDA in January 2017 on a free transfer, where he is currently playing.
Mikel has had quite an impressive international career as well. He played for Nigeria in the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championships. He won the silver ball after emerging as the second-best player of the tournament. Nigeria played and lost 2-1 to Argentina in the final of that tournament.
He made his first appearance for the Nigeria Senior national team in August 2005 during a friendly against Libya. He came in as a second-half substitute. He would then be named in the squad to play in the 2006 and 2008 Africa Cup of Nations. Unfortunately, he never featured in the 2010 world cup in South Africa. He had an ankle injury and was recovering from surgery.
Mikel was instrumental for Nigeria when they won the 2013 African Cup of Nations. He made an appearance for his country in the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 2014 in Brazil. His team went up to the round of 16. He also helped Nigeria win a bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics.
His experiences and endeavors in the football world mean he understands what it takes to discover and nurture talents. It is great that he is using his influence to provide a platform for other young players to get on to the world stage.
Nigerian government and football federation officials have endorsed Mikel’s project and it is set to be a successful one. The officials have offered their help and urged corporations to get involved with the project, to ensure it is a success. Former Lagos Governor has applauded the project and asserted that he will be part of it. He believes that young Africans deserves such opportunities and much more.
There have been a lot of initiatives for tapping into talent in the past but more are still needed. Every little effort is important and counts for a lot. All stakeholders in African football should get involved and support such initiatives aimed at securing the future for our young talented lads.
Mikel John Obi, as he prefers to be called, has decided to give back to his community by supporting young talent. The initiative is quite humble at the moment, but it has the capacity to grow and transform the lives of young Africans. There are certainly a lot of young Africans who look up to Mikel and would love to get involved in such initiatives.
It is a challenge to everyone in the African football scene to do their little bit to improve the game and the continent’s position in the football world. The series kicks off in March 2019 and it is certain that it is going to draw interest from across the world.