By Henry Okonkwo
Ex-football international and sports icon, Kanu Nwankwo, has been unveiled as the face of an upcoming TV reality show tagged, Naija Soccer Stars (NSS).
The legendary footballer Kanu, popularly known as Papillo by fans, was unveiled to the media during the signing ceremony which took place recently at Ikeja, Lagos state.
According to the organisers of the show, Alphagrace Media Resources and KGN (Kindness Guild of Nigeria), Naija Soccer Star, was packaged to discover talented footballers in Nigeria, and create opportunities for them to be trained, and nurtured into stardom by accomplished ex-international footballers, foreign scouts and FIFA agents.
Explaining further, Mr Rupert Ojenuwa, the MD of Alphagrace Media, said that one of the major motives behind producing the Naija Soccer Star reality show was to create a forum where footballers without sponsors can explore to showcase their skills and be noticed. He also disclosed that their choice to have the legendary Kanu Nwankwo as the face of the show was not just because of his popularity and influence, but also because of Kanu’s grass-to-grace story that would serve as an inspiration to talented footballers never to give up on themselves no matter their predicament. “Kanu Nwankwo has a knack for touching the lives of the less privileged. Naija Soccer Star aims to give football talents that have no godfathers or connections an opportunity to also flourish and become stars.”
Mr Ojenuwa hinted that interested footballers are to register for the show online, after which they would be sent an email invite for screening. “It is an open registration for all talented footballers all over the country to come onboard. We have screening centres scattered across the nation, in Lagos, Abuja, Oyo State and in various centres in the South-east and South-south. Participants that scale through screening would be kept in a housed and trained during the show. Also, they would have the opportunity to meet and be mentored by football legends like Kanu Nwankwo and Segun Odegbami. Throughout the show, they would be in the spotlight for top international scouts, and FIFA agents to see their raw talents and connect them in football clubs across the world. The winners would get a huge cash reward. we’ll have two teams that would emerge winners. The final winner would pocket N1 Million each, while the second team would have 500, 000 each.”
Kanu, the Atlanta’96 Olympic gold medalist, expressed excitement at being part of the project to discover, and groom young footballers to stardom. “I am very happy to be part of this. It’s a wonderful thing to happen because there are a lot of youths on the streets who aspire to play soccer and be the next Papillo but don’t have anyone to show them the light and propel them to the top. So this reality show would create a platform for these talents to showcase their skills. And Nigerians would also partake in judging and voting for the best players that have thrilled them most.”