LIMERICK FC have forged links with a renowned football academy in Ghana and are set to complete the signing of two players as a result.
Midfielder Prince Agyemang and goalkeeper Ali Abbas will join the Super Blues from the Right To Dream academy.
Representatives from Limerick FC recently flew to Manchester to watch players from Right To Dream, which has been likened to Barcelona’s world renowned La Masia academy.
John O’Sullivan, CEO with Limerick FC, explained that the club was alerted to the academy by Manchester City and this has enabled them to gain access to players from west Africa, adding that it concentrates just as much on personal developement as on the playing side.
He said: “Coming off the back of the friendly last year, Pat O’Sullivan and Kieran Judge maintained a really good relationship with Man City after the game. Man City were delighted with how they were treated, how the game went, the professionalism around the club, so following on from that Pat went over to visit Manchester to thank them for coming over and the relationship continued.
“They made us aware of the Right To Dream academy in Ghana and they were bringing over their under 19s for a couple of months to play a number of friendly games.
“Kieran, Pat and Stuart went over two weeks ago and I went over last week to tie up a few bits and pieces afterwards. The standard of players they have is fantastic but it goes beyond the players themselves. They do a really good job in making sure that the players are well rounded as individuals.”
O’Sullivan also gave an insight into the development of the young players coming from the academy in Ghana.
“It’s effectively an academy where they bring kids in from 11 up. They scout around the entire of west Africa, they bring kids in and very much like La Masia in Barcelona they look after their education and development as well as growing them as players. They have a number of development squads who travel, their under 16s, 17s or 18s will spend a month or two in the UK or western Europe to play development sides from Premier League and European clubs before going back to Africa.
“It not only gives them exposure to high quality competition but also exposure to what they hope will be their way of life, so when they come over to Manchester there’s a house that the entire squad will live in together. There’s a focus on making sure the guys look after themselves and they cook their own meals so that when they eventually take that step to being professionals, which most of them probably will, they’re well rounded.
“We’re lucky enough to be part of that so it opens up Limerick FC to a large scouting network in west Africa. These are lads that will have the ambition and the ability to move on from Limerick FC as well. We have a deal in place with them that we can share in any proceeds if the players want to move on. It’s a huge deal for the club.”
Limerick FC manager Stuart Taylor made the decision to sign Agyemang and Abbas after seeing the pair in action in Manchester, where he was left in no doubt as to the ability of the players on show.
He hopes to give game time to the African duo in the latter stages of this season, but admitted that it may be 2014 before they feature for Limerick’s first team.
“We as a club have been over in England in the last couple of weeks looking at games and they’ve got a great relationship with Right To Dream from Ghana. I went over myself and I couldn’t believe the standard. The game that they played against Preston under 19s, they absolutely battered them and these are boys that can play at under 19 level. They’ve played numerous Premier League under 19 sides and totally dominated the game.
“We had a choice of players when we went there. Man City had taken four of them and we had a choice of the other players on the pitch. We took out these two players, we managed to do a deal with these young players and bring them over. From what I have seen they will play a part next season. If we can get their clearance through for this season, and if it’s possible that they can play this season, I guarantee you they will play.
“If they don’t, then we’ll prepare them to play for next season, but they’re still eligible for under 19s. They’re incredible talents and it’s really going to be a good show for the supporters to see them play.”