African football academy gets star backing

Chris Gaynor

Arsenal's Ghanaian soccer ace Emmanuel Eboue (pictured left) has given his backing to a new football academy set up by the International Volunteering Organisation Projects Abroad.

The Cantonments Football Academy, helps African youngsters pursue their footballing talents - and already two players have been talent spotted for trials in Cyprus.

The academy, which has three youth teams and a senior team, provides top quality coaching for more than 80 players in the Cantonments area of Ghana's capital, Accra.

Projects Abroad's sport co-ordinator, Scott McQuarrie, said: "The support Emmanuel is giving our football academy is great. His interest in the academy highlights to our players that even if you have a humble beginning in the game, you can, with hard work, achieve your goal."

Star Eboue, knows what it is like to train in humble surroundings, and is keen to muck in and help create future talent, he said.

He was a graduate of the Jean-Marc Guillou's football academy in Abidjan, Ivory Coast - before moving to Europe to train at a prestigious centre in Belgium.

"Like many of our players, Emmanuel knows exactly what it is like to grow up in a disadvantaged neighbourhood with limited facilities, equipment and coaching. He is proving a real inspiration for our players and many like them in West Africa," added McQuarrie.

Set up in 1992, Projects Abroad specialises in offering gap year students and other volunteers a diverse range of projects and destinations throughout Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

Projects Abroad offers 80 different placements in areas such as sport, medicine, teaching, conservation, journalism, business and community development.

Academy Director David Flaschner, a former Projects Abroad volunteer, said: "We set out to provide a coherent structure and quality coaching for boys aged 7 to 18 as well as an excellent opportunity for volunteers to work with some of Ghana's brightest young talent.

We're still in the early stages, but from the reactions of our first few volunteers and my own personal experience, we've achieved much, much more. Our aim is to first and foremost educate the children who attend but we also have a lot of fun at training sessions too."

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