Kelechi Nwakali, who’s currently on loan at VVV Venlo, has sponsored a football tournament in his home town of Eziobodo, Nigeria.
Nwakali has donated two jerseys to each of the community teams taking part in the aptly-named ‘Kelechi Nwakali Unity Football Tournament’. The 19-year-old has also given out 15 pairs of football boots and more.
“A huge sum of money is involved and given cost of logistics, trophy, medals and other materials, I think the competition is gulping no less than N35m,” an official told Scorenigeria.com.ng.
“Kelechi (Nwakali) also gave out a pair of boot to 15 players of each of the participating teams.
“He took their sizes and measurements to London where the boots were designed with Kelechi Nwakali Unity Cup emboldened on them.
“He also provided four balls to of the teams, as well as well-equipped first aid boxes for each team.
“Besides, each member of the organising committee was given two pairs of track suits.”
ASJ Football Academy’s CEO, Emeka Amajiriaku, added, “He has given his words that the tournament will be an annual event and will endure for long because it is his own way of giving back to the society.”
What the teams are really playing for is cash.
The top cash prize is N1m, which is around £2080. The second is N500,000 (£1040) and the third N3000,000 (£624).
In world football, this doesn’t sound like a massive amount. However, these could be life-changing sums for the Nigerian community teams.
Good on Nwakali. Hopefully, this tournament, which ends on 30 December, will distract him from club football at the moment.
Nwakali’s second season on loan
Nwakali isn’t having the best loan spell at VVV Venlo.
The midfielder has made just 12 appearances for the Dutch side, scored one goal and provided one assist. Only three of these have been starts and he’s yet to complete a full 90 minutes in Eredivisie.
The teenager signed for Arsenal last year and was immediately sent out on loan to MVV Maastricht.
While there, he made 34 appearances, scoring three goals and assisting four.
Let’s hope his form picks up for Venlo, because we have him picked out as one who could make the grade at Arsenal.
Ready to soar?
by Jamie Einchomb
It be a while before we see him, but Kelechi Nwakali will be one worth waiting for.
The 2017/18 has been memorable for the number of young players who have made their first team debut.
Thanks to Arsene Wenger’s rotation policy for the Europa and the Carabao Cup, opportunities have been given to Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah, Josh Dasilva, Ben Sheaf, Matt Macey and Marcus McGuane.
Not all of these players will go on to forge careers at Arsenal, but it’s hard not to get carried away when Nelson and Willock apply themselves so well to first team European football, or when Nketiah comes off the bench and scores his first Arsenal goal within 15 seconds.
The club’s academy set-up is looking pretty healthy.
You don’t need to look far to see who could be next in line for a breakthrough.
There’s the likes of Emile Smith-Rowe, another promising wide player who featured for the England u17 when they won the World Cup in India, and Trae Coyle, a 16-year-old scholar who made the 2017 edition of the Guardian’s Next Generation series.
Then there’s Romanian midfielder Vlad Dragomir, an exciting creative player, and the highly versatile Ben Sheaf, who can play in defensive or in midfield.
Yet, the most exciting young player on the club’s books is one that currently isn’t playing for them.