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Football college (DK)

Desmond Kwande/Twenty Ten

Associated features: The Red Stars, South Africa (Photo feature), Ghana's future stars (Photo feature), A Dreaming Drogba, Liberia (Photo feature), Surviving Dreams, Nigeria (Photo feature), Hogsback Lion Cubs (Photo feature), Ghana Legend (Multimedia feature), A coach with vision, Zambia (Multimedia feature)

Location: Ogun, Nigeria

The Football College in Orile-Imo, just 45km from Lagos, is one of Nigeria's few institutions that offer aspiring young soccer stars an academic and sports education. The boys spend the morning in the classroom and the afternoon on the soccer field; both areas of development are important to those who run the college.

The parents of the children who attend the school work tirelessly to afford the hefty fees. Some own small businesses in the town, others buy and sell food or livestock and others still work as motorcycle commuters. Whether braving the town centre fumes, or tending to chickens every morning, these parents have chosen to invest their hard-earned cash in the hope that their sons will one day become soccer stars.

At the Football College, boys who once dreamed of following in the football boots of their heroes, have an opportunity to improve their skills under the watchful eye of the coaches. Not only are they given an academic education, they are also schooled in the importance of working as a team, appreciating the skills of others and honing the particular gifts they each may have.

With the FIFA World Cup soccer showcase on the horizon, boys like Osasu Benson, Emmanuel Afolabi and Aremu Abiodum have started to dream that they too might one day play football for their country.

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