Olopade Peter Taiwo is an SS3 student at International College of Arts, Science and Technology (ICAST) located in Ibadan. He speaks with our HAZEEZ AYANSOLA on how he has been combining formal education with football training. Excerpts
Please introduce yourself.
I am a student of International College of Arts, Science and Technology (ICAST). I am in SS3 class.
You are a final year student of ICAST, what informed your decision to enrol at Ilaji Soccer Academy?
Ever since I was small, I have always wanted to be a professional footballer so as to be able to showcase my football talents to any of the elite European Clubs. It is also my dream to represent my country at the international level. Thus, for me to achieve this, I know that I have to be coached about the basic tenets of football and in the process finetune my footballing skills. Enrolling at Ilaji Soccer Academy will help me achieve this.
What made you say this?
Considering the level of sporting infrastructure which is on ground here (Ilaji Stadium and Resorts Center), it wont be difficult for any serious minded player to upgrade his game. Everything a professional footballer needs to get better is here in terms of personnel and facility.
Being a student who just finished his O’ Level Examination and who still wants to further his academic career, how do you intend to combine your academic pursuit with your football career?
I don’t see any problem about that at all, though a lot of people have that reservation. The most important thing here is planning and ability to adhere strictly to one’s plan.
What has been your experience since you enrolled at the academy?
The experience has been very good. Just as I said earlier, planning is the key word here. I attend to my normal school activities during the school hours and I come here in the evening for training. The timing of the training here at the academy has also made it very easy for me to combine my academics and professional football together. We train here time four times in a week and our training is fixed for the evening when I would have finished my academic activities for the day. I use the remaining three days to further prepare myself for my academics activities. It is just the same way it is done in European countries.
What do you have to say about your fellow academic players?
They have been great, warm and friendly. What we have here is nothing but a friendly and peaceful group. We are friends and we get along very well.
Since you have started training and getting instructions from your coaching crew, have you experienced any improvement at all?
I have improved on my starmina and my speed. My shooting accuracy has also improved greatly.
Which position do you play?
I play on the left side of the attacking midfield.
In the next five years, where do you want to see yourself?
By the special grace of God, I hope to see myself playing for a top European Club.
On a last note, what more do you have to say?
First of all, I want to thank my dad for everything he has done for me and for the faith he has shown in my academic pursuit and footballing career. I want to express my gratitude to my teachers in school; and to my colleagues here at the Academy for their words of encouragement. Lastly, my special thanks goes to my coaching crew for the special care and to the management of Ilaji Stadium and Resorts Center for nurturing responsible citizens and for providing platforms through which hidden talents are showcased.