Football has become a very lucrative business in the world today. Top entrepreneurs are now investing massively because of the potential they see in the game. The mere fact that one footballer can earn as high as $300k in a week should tell you that there is money in the game. So if a single player can earn that much how much do you think the club owner who signs the pay cheque will be earning? So if you are considering starting a football academy I want you to know that it is a very noble idea. And you will never regret such investment if done well. This post will give you everything you need to know concerning how to start a football academy in Nigeria.
What is Football Academy?
A football academy otherwise known as a football college is an institutional setup with facilities specially designed for grooming, training, and developing young football talents or aspiring footballers at a tender age. So it is basically a training school to where aspiring young football players are helped to develop the technical skills that enhance their inert talents.
Football academies can be set up by governments, major football clubs or even individuals. When fully developed these academy players are graduated or sold to major football clubs where they begin to sign professional contracts. The guidance of well experienced coaches and other members of the technical crew obviously helps in speeding up the development of the football capabilities of the young talent compared to if they didn’t pass through the academy.
Why Football Academy in Nigeria?
There are many reasons football academy should be taken seriously by both government and private bodies in Nigeria:
- The European Football market alone is worth about 25.2 billion dollars
- If properly developed Football can contribute significantly to the GDP of Nigeria
- Football is the number one sports in Nigeria
- Nigeria failure to qualify for the 2022 world cup is not because of lack of talents but poor management
- Football has a very high return on investment.
Is Football Academy Business in Nigeria Profitable?
Football academy is one of the highest yielding investment anyone can make. One can safely start a decent academy in Nigeria with a total investment of 20 million naira. But if the academy is able to secure an affiliation with a European club (which is very easy to do with the help of any FIFA licensed football agent) then the returns on investment can start coming as early as within 12 months. Time has gone when football was seen as a trophy asset. Time has gone when it was viewed just for the fun. Football is now a serious business and attracts big investors.
How to Make Money from Football Academy
There are principally 3 ways to make money from football academy:
Joining a football academy in Nigeria is not free. Except you are operating your own football academy as a social enterprise. So the first way to make money from running a football academy is through the registration fees intending members pay to join. Remember a football academy in Nigeria is just like a college where students are paid. So it is normal for students to register and pay school fees. And I tell you the truth; both the young people and their parents are willing to pay any amount to be part of an academy with good prospects.
Your registration fees can be any amount between 50,000 naira to 200,000 naira.
From sign on fees
This is the main business of a football academy in Nigeria – to produce players that professional league clubs can sign.
By the time you groom those raw talents and they start performing at top level consistently major clubs within and outside the country will start coming for them. From my findings from a top FIFA agent a raw talent spotted from Nigeria by a European club will not sell for anything less than $200,000 if the talent is under 18. And by the time that player signs a professional contract for another club in Europe more money will be paid to the academy where he is coming from.
If you make a good success of your academy you will make even more money from partnership deals than from the first two. With over 3.5 billion fans across the globe football is easily the most watched sports in the world today. For this reason the biggest brands wants to be associated with one club or the other. If you can secure partnership deal from any of the local brands in your country it will be a good source of revenue.
Steps to Starting a Football Academy in Nigeria
1. Choose a Name for your Football Academy
This is the first thing to do for anyone who wants to run a football academy. The name is one’s identity. That is how the academy will be recognized and addressed. It involves choosing a name for your football academy and club. Though the name of a club does not have a direct implication on the success of the academy but it is still important you take time to decide on this. The reason is because once your club has been known with a particular name if you change it later it will take a whole generation to pass before the new name can be accepted.
And I will give you an example here. You know Heartland Football Club of Owerri? It was formally known as Iwuanyanwu Nationale. But on February 7, 2006 Imo State Government reacquired it from Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu who had bought it in 1985. The government then renamed it Heartland Football Club of Owerri. But guess what? A good number of people still address the club as Iwuanyanwu Nationale.
2. Develop a Business Plan for your Football Academy
A business plan is the map for any business you wants to venture into. It is the business plan that will tell you what to do (the vision and mission), how to do them (business strategies), when to do each of them (timeline and milestones) and what it will take to do them (financial analysis). It is from the business plan that you will know if it is worth the stress and investment. Similarly, it is the business plan that will review if you are ready for the venture or not. A business plan is not something you can’t do. Anyone can prepare a business plan with little research and asking questions here or there.
However, if you don’t know how to prepare a standard business plan for yourself, you can get an expert. Pay and have them do it for you in a very professional way. Of course you can also book a session with one of our business plan consultants here. A good business plan can help you to raise capital for the football academy.
Whether you are preparing the business plan by yourself or you wish to get someone to do it for you insist that it must contain the following sections:
- Executive Summary
- Industry Overview
- Company Description
- SWOT Analysis
- Market Analysis
- Financial Analysis
- Marketing Strategies
- Competitive Analysis
3. Do Proper Branding of the Proposed Academy
Branding is a very important aspect of the launching of any business. Oftentimes the branding and promotion is what gives visibility and exposure to a brand. Branding involves designing the logo, selecting of colours and defining the values the academy shall be known with. Just like in the case of choosing a business name, it is important that you think through things before choosing your brand colours, logos and other branding items. The reason is that once a particular perception is created about a brand in the eyes of the public, it will be difficult to change it.
I n your brand identity logo is of particular important. Even though you can literally use anything as a logo but it will be good if each item on your logo has an explainable significance as relating to your academy. It is also at this stage that your select the choice of jersey for the academy.
4. Register you Football Academy with CAC and NFF
Football Academy is a serious business. There are a lot of things that may come up when you start operations. For this reason it is important that you formalize the academy in a way that the law recognizes before you open it to the general public.
The first way to do this is to register the academy with the body that is in charge of business registration in your country. In Nigeria, it is Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). You need to register your academy whether as an enterprise or a limited liability company or even as a not-for profit organisation. This registration makes it a legal entity and it automatically gives you leverage in several areas.
Another important registration in order to formalize your operation is to register with Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). NFF is the governing body for all football and football related activities in Nigeria. So, for your academy to be recognized in Nigeria it needs to register with NFF.
5. Secure a Camp for your Academy
Ideally, a standard football academy should have boarding facilities where the players can be camped from time to time for intensive training sessions. However, in a situation where this is not possible for whatever reason it can still operate optimally with good management and expert technical crew. In that case all you need is to secure a standard field for training and let the boys report to training from their homes.
Remember you must not wait until you can afford to buy and land a build a stadium. No. You can lease a standard pitch for your academy to use and train.
6. Put together a Team of Technical And Administrative Staff
This is one of the most important steps you can take to make your football academy in Nigeria a success. I can tell you without any fear of contradiction that the perennial poor performance of Super Eagles in Nigeria is due to poor management. The management is more important to the success of the academy than even the talents available to the academy. A good and honest management with average talent at their disposal will achieve far more than a mediocre and corrupt management with an embarrassment of top talents.
So if you want your football academy in Nigeria to be a success you must be careful in the formation of the management board as well as the technical crew.
At a minimum the academy should have:
The Administrative Team
These are people that work behind the scene to provide all that is necessary for the team to succeed. There are responsible for the day to day running of the academy and sees to the welfare of both the players and the coaches. The key positions are:
- A Chairman – which in most cases should be the owner
- A General Manager
- A Secretary
- An Accountant
- The Team Doctor
- Team Driver
The Technical Crew
The technical crew are in charge of the on-pitch activities of the players. The major ones to have are:
- The Head Coach
- The Assistant Coach
The success of your academy will to a very large extent depend on the expertise of the head coach. Make sure whoever you are hiring has experience on the job.
7. Draft The Rules and Code of Conduct for Your Football Academy
Every organization that deals with human beings especially young people need to have a code of conduct. This will help place a check on peoples’ excesses seeing that they are coming from different backgrounds. So it is necessary for you to draft out the rules guiding your academy even before you open up them for people to join.
In fact put it in form of a handbook and let it be part of the welcome package for anyone that joins the academy. Don’t shy away from including disciplinary measures for anyone that breaches any of the rules. This will make the players to be serious with their career development and equally attract serious-minded people to the academy.
8.Create a Website and Social Media Handles
If you are operating any business in 2022 without a website, I wonder if anyone will take you serious. And you should know this already. Each time someone hear about your academy anywhere the first thing that will come to the mind of most people is ‘let me check their website for details’. So since we have already agreed that a football academy in Nigeria as in any other part of the world is a business, then having a website for it is a must. Your website should contain the following information:
- About the academy: this should explain what the academy is all about and if possible a brief history of the academy
- Your contact: how people can reach you for inquiries
- How to join the academy: including the criteria for joining
- Major Achievements or accolades: including testimonials
In this social media age you should also know the need to have social media handles where you promote the activities of the club. People will locate you through your social links as much as through your website. If you are wondering the important handles to have for this I will recommend Facebook and Instagram for a start. But that is not ruling out the other ones.
9. Procure the Necessary Materials
Your proposed football academy is gradually taking shape. And you are very close to achieving your goal. The next important step now is to procure the important items you will need in the academy. The following are the most important items that must be on ground before you start:
- Sets of jersey: you need at least 2 sets for a start and this is specifically for playing matches
- Training kits: Simple football bibs can serve here. You should have a minimum of 4 sets for this. And let it come in different colours.
- Footballs: get as many as you can afford for different types of ball work.
- Whistles for the coaches
- Team bus
10. Call for Academy Players
Now you are ready to start admitting young talent into your academy. The rules you set in step 7 above will be a good guide here. Hopefully it would have defined some of the selection criteria for your academy. Things like the age, of qualifying members would have been taken care of.
The most important person in the recruitment process should be the head coach because he has the ability to spot the raw talents in the applicants. Remember that what you are starting is an academy and not a professional football club. For this reason you are not necessarily looking for a finished product. In fact, finished products won’t be coming to your academy because Chelsea FC or real Madrid FC will probably have gotten them. So once you spot people with the talent, you can admit them and have your coaches work on them to become the next Lionel Messi.
Where do you get these talents from?
I don’t know if you are asking this kind of question. Well, that should probably be the easiest part of your job. Once you set up your academy and give it a little publicity you will see young people and their parents besiege your camp pleading to be admitted. The success of most Nigerian footballers in the last decade or two has increased peoples’ interest in the game. Most parents now prefer to have their children play football than go to university. They will beg to pay you any amount just to join your academy and stand a chance of playing professional football.
Remember that you have to structure your academy in such a way that it will accommodate those that are still have interest in school or other businesses. It shouldn’t be a full-time job for the players (at least for a start). Training sessions can hold in the evenings and on weekends.
11. Seek for International Affiliation if you can
If you want your football academy to become the most talked about academy in Nigeria go to Europe and sign a partnership agreement with one major club. Get a club from any of the popular leagues like English Premier League, Seria A, La Liga, Bundesliga or Ligue 1. And guess what? These clubs will be more than willing to have you affiliate to them. In fact the truth is that they need you more than you need them. They know that Africa has abundance of quality football talents and they are looking for every opportunities to scout for the best here.
So your partnership will turn your academy to their scouting grounds. From time to time you invite them over to Nigeria to come and see what the boys are doing. And at other times they will arrange to bring your players to participate in some tournaments in Europe. And I assure you, this is the best thing that will happen to your academy.
Connect with the Managing Director of SKN Football Agency, a renowned football scout and consultant for discussions on international affiliation.
12. Be Part of Local Competitions
Starting from the grass-root, be part of the competition going on in your locality. Play as many top level friendly matches as you can. Those competitions and friendly matches don’t only help your team to be more competitive but also exposes the talents at your disposal to outside scouts. The more you play and excel in these competitions the more your chances of making it to the major league.
It is very clear that any investment in football can hardly fail. But investment in football academy in Nigeria particularly has a very good return on investment. We have gone through the details of how to start football academy in Nigeria. Now two things I recommend you do are:
1. Ask yourself if this is an investment you will be willing to do – if the answer is yes, then go back to step one and start from there.
2. If you want to have a detailed business plan including 3 years financial projection for the business get it here.