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Global Dec 07, 2012

Nigerian dreams: Boys, girls teams from African nation visiting Md. in search of college opportunities

By Charles Boehm

A gaggle of talented young Nigerian players has traveled across the Atlantic for an extended visit to the Washington, D.C. area in search of exposure to college scouts and other Stateside soccer opportunities.

Martins Asata, founder and head of the Marasata Academy, a training program based in Abuja, Nigeria, has assembled two teams (one boys’, one girls’) comprised of the academy’s most promising prospects under the age of 18 to make the long journey to D.C. Their ranks include a few players who have spent time in their country’s youth national team system, though all are focused first and foremost on seeking out educational opportunities in the U.S.

Both teams competed in the Bethesda SC Thanksgiving Tournament last month and have been training both indoors and out, with the occasional scrimmage thrown in. Asata’s brother Sunday lives in Maryland and is hosting the group.

Several of the girls also traveled to the CASL Showcase in North Carolina as guest players with FC Virginia Courage 94 and made a strong impression, earning serious inquiries from scouts of Division I, II and III programs.

On Tuesday the boys scrimmaged nationally-known U.S. Youth Soccer powerhouse Olney Rangers in Hyattsville, Md. was on hand to watch the match, which was played at a very high level despite the essentially unstructured setting.

Rangers took a 2-0 lead but were worn down by Marasata’s technique and physicality, with every one of the Nigerians showing impressive fitness, technique and passing range. Marasata scored three goals down the stretch to take a 3-2 win on an occasion that Rangers coach Matt Pilkington said was a valuable learning experience as his boys gained exposure to a whole new style and intensity of play.

Martins Asata said that both teams will be in the area for another few weeks and are in great need of scrimmage opponents. Teams interested in playing or training with the Marasata teams are urged to contact Sunday Asata at [email protected].

Editor’s note: will have further coverage of this unique international visit – check back next week for more.

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