SOCA – The institution of sports and academic excellence – Guardian Nigeria

This is not an advert! I am devoting this page today, in order to provide some invaluable information on Segun Odegbami International College and Sports Academy, SOCA, a non-profit institution that has been rendering services to young Nigerian boys and girls with passion and ambition to pursue the fulfillment of their dream in sports, particularly football.
This information may also be useful as a guide to parents that may be seeking what the school offers children in sport and society.
It’s been 17 years ago since the foundation stone of SOCA was laid. The vision that was clear to me alone at inception, and has been a hard-sell to most Nigerians for many years, blurred by its audacity and unique objectives
I am obliged to attempt again to clear the cobwebs about SOCA so that those that can benefit from it will do so. SOCA is my legacy to sport and to my country, an institution that will breed the best in sports anchored to academics.
SOCA is NOT a regular secondary school.
It is a SPORTS secondary school.
There is a wide difference.
For clarity, SOCA is NOT a secondary school that offers some sports as an extra-curricular activity as in your typical school in Nigeria.
Most schools are set up primarily as institutions running the full national academic curriculums. Their provision for sports is token, optional and for interested students. The students are given the opportunity to participate in the mostly once-a-week (on Wednesdays) routine exercise, and for a few ‘wasted’ hours.
SOCA is an institution with primary focus on a full sports curriculum. The academics are a secondary part, a bait, a condition that must be fulfilled by the students in order to get their full dose of sports passion – 6 hours every day!
That’s the mission – to give young boys and girls the full dose of sports DAILY. In the process of enjoying this privilege, they are presented with academics delivered in a manner that demonstrates the ease and pleasure in learning, that opens their eyes to the reality that academics are not as difficult as they appear to be, and can be effortlessly and seamlessly combined with their sports. They bite the bait. It is easy.
So, SOCA is designed to accommodate talented children with the passion and ambition to become stars, and parents that are willing to support them to achieve this on the condition they will also embrace a good, simple education.
The product today in SOCA is now 4 hours of sports every day, plus an academic programme driven by a learning methodology assuming from the onset that the children have learning difficulty. So, the teachers undergo special training on how to teach children with learning difficulty or are distracted because of their commitment to be athletes.
The SOCA experiment has been a great learning and rewarding adventure for everyone.
To achieve the primary goals of SOCA, therefore, a deliberate strategy is deployed to saturate the students with their passion for sport without compromising on standard of academics.
To achieve these dual objectives has been challenging and SOCA has passed through the crucible of fire recruiting staff that abandon old ways, and embrace the new vision and are willing to pursue it. SOCA creating the environment where the vision can be practicalised and realised, providing the essential ingredients to succeed.
That’s SOCA, a sports school that spends time giving its students plenty of sports whilst gently nudging them to see the ease, simplicity and pleasure in the pursuit of academics, aided by a conducive environment where all dreams can become reality.
This scenario is difficult for most to digest and accept at first.
However, through the years, the fundamental objectives for establishing SOCA have remained constant, and the evidence of success is overwhelming in the graduates of the academy that have gone on to pursue sports and scholarship in Nigeria and abroad, particularly the United States of America that has found SOCA a good ‘fishing’ ground for talented young scholar/athletes.
The beauty as well as shortfall in what has gone on, so far, are that SOCA has never been able to admit the most talented of the young athletes. This is because the concept a sports academy operating as a complete and first-class academic secondary school is still new and unappreciated by the elite in society. So, even with the ‘second and third- division stock of talented students that often are the ones seeking admission into the school, and with the intensity of training and learning they receive, they have blossomed and become great ambassadors of SOCA, models of the concept of combining sports with academics in full doses.
Despite the great difficulty in securing student-visas to American Colleges and Universities that are the destination for most SOCA grandaunts, and that SOCA has not been granted any special concessions in the process of obtaining the visas the institution has succeeded as a rich throve of scholar/athletes for several American Colleges.
15 years since SOCA started, most Nigerians still think the school is an ‘academy’, one of the thousands of non-institutionalised assemblies that dot the landscape in every nook and cranny, training footballers in preparation for professional football careers overseas.
SOCA does a little of that too.
In the past two weeks, about 1300 young boys and girls from clubs and academies across the country, descended on the quiet town of Wasimi and magically transformed it into a football Mecca. The town experienced a magical transformation from the laid-back urban town into a beehive of social and commercial activities.
From this competition also, even SOCA hunts for exceptional talent from the locality and offers them scholarship to the school.
Another admission season into SOCA beckons, NOW.
This is a call to interested parents who may be worried about their children’s passion for sports and their unwillingness to pursue their academics to stop the worrying because SOCA provides an answer, plus more.
The Sports secondary school is for both boys and girls.
At full capacity, the population of the school will be 120 students, divided into 6 classes (JS1 to SS3), without any dream to ever exceed that number. It has 90 students only now.
All the students live on the campus located far from the hustle and bustle of any towns. They live in a world of their own where sport is king, complimented by the complete education they receive.
Probably, this is as good a time as any for me to openly solicit for support from any individuals or corporate to hasten the process of fully establishing the female arm of the institution.
A female hostel to accommodate the maximum 40 female students on the Campus has not been completed.
As the school is not designed for profit and is still largely subsidised for all that it provides the students till now.
The 12 girls in the school now live one and half kilometres to the main SOCA campus in Wasimi Town settlement, and commute every day to and from the main campus.
SOCA can do with any support to complete the dormitory and perform its social responsibility faster and better.
Meanwhile, for the next academic session starting in September, SOCA has a first-class football coach in Friday Ekpo, one of the most gifted midfield players in Nigeria’s history when he played in the national team. SOCA has also invited late Lee Evans’ assistant during their revolutionary work in Cross Rivers State with Dr. Bruce Ijirigho, to take over athletics development in the school from where Lee stopped.
Ernest, a Cameroonian American, has arrived Nigeria from his base in Atlanta, Georgia, USA and will be joining the athletics technical team in SOCA.
SOCA is determined to become a haven for the production of more Tobi Amusans and Ese Brumes from the next school year.
Once again, this is not an advert.

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