JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN — Former Barcelona and Real Madrid star Luis Figo of Portugal has been signed to his latest football venture: to set up an academy in South Sudan to give world-class training to future stars of the game.
“We are in the first steps but for me it is always very important to consolidate football and education, because in the end, you never know, if you're going to be a professional footballer,” Figo said at a news conference in Juba to launch the academy.
The school for budding soccer stars will bear Figo's name and that of its main sponsor, Spanish oil company Star Petroleum.
“We are going to bring two coaches to Juba to create our school... and we are going to take five promising young footballers ... to Madrid," Star Petroleum CEO Farshad Zandi said.
The youngest players will be trained in South Sudan, while promising older footballers and coaches will be given the opportunity to apply for scholarships to train abroad, Zandi said.
To footballer Marco Madut, the news that South Sudan is to get a world-class soccer academy was made better only by the news that Figo was to spearhead the effort.
Neither Star nor Figo made clear when the academy will be up and running, but the announcement of its creation could not have come at a better time for South Sudan, where the Al-Nasir side took a 5-0 drubbing on Sunday against Tanzania's Azam FC.