Former Nigeria striker Yakubu Ayegbeni opens FIFA technical centre on the island group of Vava'u


Former Nigeria striker Yakubu Ayegbeni has opened a new FIFA technical centre on the island group of Vava'u in Tonga.

The archipelago is famously known for its rugby prowess, but on Vava'u football comes first.

The Tonga Football Association (TFA) is keen to grow and develop the game away from the capital Nuku'alofa and this centre will ensure the grassroots growth of the beautiful game.

Yakubu got stuck in and played alongside some of the local children, and some were lucky enough to receive a signed photo of the FIFA legend.

The 37-year-old played for a host of English clubs including Portsmouth, Everton and Blackburn Rovers before retiring in 2017 and described being at the opening of the centre as ''an honour.''

The new facilities in Vava'u, a district with a population of around 15,000, boasts a natural grass pitch, administration offices and changing rooms for local schools and clubs to use and is the result of a USD 750,000 project funded by the FIFA Forward programme for football development.

Vava'u, Tonga - 4/5th March 2020.

1. 00:00 Pan of banner outside new FIFA technical centre

2. 00:09 FIFA flag and banner

3. 00:23 SOUNDBITE (English): Yakubu Ayegbeni, former Nigeria striker and FIFA legend:

''It's amazing to be here today. The boys and girls here you can see, they're happy, they want to play. For me to be here today is an honour, to see these kids enjoying different parts of life. Before I think they just stayed indoors, but now with these facilities, they want to come over to train.''

4. 00:48 Ribbon being cut to open centre by Lord Ve'ehala, President of Tonga FA

5. 00:58 Close up of plaque to honour opening of centre

6. 01:05 SOUNDBITE (English): Yakubu Ayegbeni, former Nigeria striker and FIFA legend:

''It's all about me passing the message and it's all about the kids listening and taking it. Try to fulfil their dreams. I'm here to make them believe they can do it. And they can do it. They need to believe.''

7. 01:23 Cutaway of inside of technical centre

8. 01:36 Yakubu giving some gifts to local child, including a cap which he puts on him

9. 01:50 SOUNDBITE (English): Yakubu Ayegbeni, former Nigeria striker and FIFA legend:

''So, for these guys to do this pitch, it's unbelievable. And again you have to give credit to FIFA as well for contributing for these young boys.''

10. 02:01 Various of Yakubu with young football fans, handing out signed photos of himself

11. 02:15 SOUNDBITE (English): Ronen Hershco, FIFA Regional Development Manager Oceania:

''So, technical centres are not only the pitch or not just the football activities, and it's making a huge difference. Firstly, it's tailor made. It's what the Tongan FA over here required and where asking for, we designed it with them, together. And then there is the pitch, the football activities, but alongside there is the administrative (elements). So, they have a place now to conduct courses (for) referees, coaching, as well as dressing rooms, sports facilities. And there are other pillars that we are now emphasising within the region. It's supposed to be full accessibility, it's supposed to be access for everyone: from disabled people, for people who just want to use the facilities, parents, it's family orientated. So, we're thinking as well about the other aspects because we realise mainly over here, most of the cases it's the biggest informal education centre after the school, church and this is the impact we creating with them. How to interact more and more, to come and play. But on top of that, they are running the facility, it's how to maintain it because we've invested lots of money. But the idea is that it will last for a long time, and this is the role that we are doing together with them (Tongan FA).''

12. 03:46 Pan down of centre buildings

13. 03:58 Yakubu scores a penalty

14. 04:07 SOUNDBITE (English): Ronen Hershco, FIFA Regional Development Manager Oceania:

''I came here two years ago, it was scratch. Everybody wore shoes (while playing football). But still it's a long way and I think the success of the project was that they were able, along with the contractor, to finish on time, finish within the budget. Even, you know, private business entities it's not always the case. So for them, it's a big, big success. And we're all proud.''

15. 04:38 Cutaway of Hershco making speech

16. 04:48 Children playing football

17. 04:57 SOUNDBITE (English): Lord Ve'ehala, President of Tonga FA:

''The support of FIFA here is to provide the facility in a place where football will grow, from the young ones as you have witnessed right now, as they're going to become a mature person. That's what the support is for.''

18. 05:15 Cutaways of centre buildings

19. 05:28 SOUNDBITE (English): Lord Ve'ehala, President of Tonga FA:

''Well the centre will benefit the local population where they'll bring their children to be trained in soccer. So, there's no limitation, both male and females.''

20. 05:41 Yakubu playing football with children

21. 05:49 SOUNDBITE (English): Lord Ve'ehala, President of Tonga FA:

''Well FIFA has always supported what we are doing, from the past to the present. And it's continued to support us. And we have to manage what we have and the resources in order to produce the outcome better for Tonga and better for the economy of the country.''

22. 06:07 Wide of various games of football being played by children

23. 06:15 SOUNDBITE (English): Kilifi Uele, local football coach:

''I pretty much appreciate what FIFA has done for us in the past years and the continuation of their support. I think it will help us moving forward, so that means we can develop more players. Not only focusing on the main island, but now we're moving to the outer islands. So, the more players coming through our programme the better out future. Especially for our youth national team and the future of our senior men's national team, and for senior women.''

24. 06:50 UPSOUND (English) - Children shout ''FIFA!''

6 March 2020