• Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

BALLPOINT: BARELY DID EVERYONE SEE THE STARLETS GOING BEYOND THE LIMITS

The Moustached Journalist says;

Founded as the youth academy of Remo Stars, Beyond Limits Football Academy has been nurturing young talent with a vision to create future stars for both domestic leagues and international platforms.

Beyond Limits FA, based in Ikenne, Ogun State, is the academy arm of Remo Stars, a club known for its structured approach to youth development.

Situated in the serene environment of Ikenne, Ogun State, with a vision to breed tomorrow’s superstars; their focus on holistic player development, both on and off the pitch, set the foundation for their meteoric rise.

Beyond Limits FA began as a grassroots initiative, keen on developing players’ skills, providing them with top-notch training facilities, and fostering a culture of discipline and excellence.

Founded with the mission to nurture young talent, Beyond Limits has steadily grown in stature and capability. However, few could have predicted their rapid rise to the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL).

Initially, the goal was to create a pathway for young players to transition into professionals, but few could have predicted the academy’s rapid rise to the top tier of Nigerian football.

Established with the primary goal of feeding its senior team, Remo Stars, the academy’s rising from the shadows and unexpected leap into the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) was not just a victory for the club but a testament to the power of strategic planning and youth development.

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The 2023/24 season of the Nigeria National League (NNL) saw Beyond Limits FA embarking on a campaign that would test their mettle and resilience.

Competing in a league traditionally dominated by well-established teams with deeper pockets and more experienced squads, the prodigies relied on their youthful exuberance and tactical discipline.

Coach Olumide Ajibolade and his galaxy of starlets have racked up five trophies in the last five months; Viareggio Cup, Ogun State Federation Cup, The Creative Championship League, and most recently, finishes the campaign with the Nigeria National League title.

Among the standout performances was their decisive shootouts victory in the Ogun State Federation Cup against Remo Stars, a sister club with a growing history in Nigerian football.

This victory not only boosted their morale but also caught the attention of football enthusiasts nationwide.

For many football pundits and fans, Beyond Limits’ ascension to the NPFL was nothing short of a fairy tale. Throughout the season, the team displayed an exceptional level of consistency and composure.

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The squad, primarily composed of players under 18, demonstrated maturity beyond their years, effectively executing game plans and displaying a level of tactical awareness rare at such a young age.

In a stunning turn of events that has captivated football enthusiasts across Nigeria, Beyond Limits’ achievement is an unprecedented milestone: qualification for the NPFL.

This success has left many in the football community in awe, as the academy has defied expectations and demonstrated the power of determination and strategic planning.

The team’s approach to games, blending disciplined defense with swift, effective counterattacks, caught many opponents off guard.

Securing promotion to play in the NPFL next season through the Nigeria National League Super 8 playoffs where they finished top of the Southern Conference with seven points from three matches at the recently-concluded tourney in the Coal City of Enugu.

Prior to finishing second-placed behind Madiba Football Club in their first-ever season in the Southern Conference A of the nation’s second-tier division.

Their tactical flexibility allowed them to adapt to various playing styles and maintain consistent performance throughout the season.

In a series of dramatic and unexpected occurrence, Beyond Limits FA has secured a spot in the 2024/25 NPFL season, making waves across the Nigerian football landscape.

This young and ambitious club, initially perceived as an underdog, has defied expectations, triumphing over seasoned rivals and carving a name for itself in the annals of Nigerian football.

The courageous starlets who meticulously hit the Nigerian football circle with great style and flair.

Meanwhile, Article 19 of the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) Statutes emphasizes that the integrity of competitions must be maintained, by prohibiting individuals or entities from having control or influence over more than one club participating in the same competition to avoid conflicts of interest and ensure fair play.

These regulations outline that clubs must not be directly or indirectly controlled by the same entity or person, including any form of influence that could affect the independence of a club’s decision-making.

Unlike many of their competitors, Beyond Limits FA relied heavily on young, academy-trained players.

FIFA rules also consider relationships between individuals or entities that might indirectly influence clubs.

This could include family members, business partners, or financial connections that could result in a conflict of interest.

This youthful squad, while inexperienced, brought a high level of energy and cohesion.

Same applies to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and all its accredited competitions, being a member-association of FIFA and will have to enforce these rules strictly.

If a conflict of interest or multiple ownership is identified, the concerned clubs might be asked to divest ownership or restructure their operations to comply with the regulations. Failure to comply can result in penalties, including exclusion from competitions.

Their unique tactical know-how and game play stood them out even against tough competition.

These regulations are designed by FIFA to prevent any form of influence or control by a single party over more than one club in the same competition.

This is to uphold the principles of integrity, fairness, and transparency in football competitions worldwide.

Each federation or league may have additional specific rules to enforce these principles, but they all align with FIFA’s overarching guidelines.

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Further questions were raised after Beyond Limits’ triumphal league win in the 5-3 penalty-shootouts against Nasarawa United in the final of the NNL Super 8 playoffs.

With the Ikenne-based team attracting particular scrutiny over its participation in the NPFL next season alongside sister club Remo Stars contrary to public opinions, in which they are both owned and funded by Hon. Kunle Soname.

Becoming champions in their Nigeria’s debut football league season is such a commendable feat at this vibrant age.

Multi-club ownership in football is hardly a recent phenomenon in Africa, unlike most foreign climes, especially in Europe and the Americas.

With the exploration of the model in Nigerian football since the late 2000s, the multi-club strategy has grown in popularity and the footballing landscape is now dominated by groups of commonly owned clubs (Enyimba nd Abia Warriors being a notable example).

Competing against well-established clubs with long histories in the league, the academy faced a daunting challenge.

However, the former over the years is partially divested by the Abia State Government and a group of relevant corporate stakeholders; unlike the latter is that very much link to government’s direct involvement.

In the case of the two privately-owned teams in contention, the benefits are clear and stated overtly to avoid attracting any football legal consequences.

What a heroic reception back home in Ikenne, a never-to-forget-too-soon homecoming it was for the Academy.

They operates under the same umbrella enjoying various advantages, including greater bargaining power in commercial contracts, increased brand reach, pooling of resources (scouting, knowledge sharing, etc), and flexibility with player transfers and loans.

Further, as football club investment becomes an increasingly expensive and rarified business, it comes as no surprise to see the same investor recurring across multiple projects.

However, from the outset, they showcased an extraordinary level of skill and tactical acumen.

Their chances of playing in the Nigeria’s topmost tier, however, became a subject of public discourse due to the NPFL’s Rules and Framework (NPFLRF) on two or more clubs being owned by the same person. Beyond Limits and Remo Stars are owned and funded by the same person.

Clause 5.0 of the NPFLRF on club ownership says, “A person is not allowed to hold or acquire a significant interest in NPFL club while holding a significant interest in another NPFL club.”

Throughout the season, Beyond Limits FA delivered a series of surprising victories against more experienced teams.

Irrespective of, there is no cause for alarm either of these Hon. Kunle Soname-funded club sides to be forced to demonstrate a clear separation of powers between them in order for both to be allowed to compete in the Nigeria’s topflight division.

Moreso, both has different managements, and will definitely share same home ground, Remo Stars Stadium, in their 2024/25 NPFL campaigns and other domestic competitions.

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Thus, the issue of similarity of branding and visual identity between the two clubs, including similarities in playing kits is acceptable.

It is only on both managements’ dispositions to change or stick with the same outfits, as earlier clarified in a statement amidst the murmurs by the Club’s Head of Media, Dimeji Olushode.

Notably, their resilience in away games and their dominant performances at home became a hallmark of their campaign.

As can be seen from the factors considered above, control of such scenarios in the Nigerian football circle is determined broadly in the national football governing body’s rules as in corroboration with that of FIFA.

Although, it is predominantly the responsibility of the Management Board of the Nigeria Premier Football League to stress that its determination is to focus on “matters that affect the performance of a club in a competition and not simply generic corporate, commercial, financial or other business activities which do not directly affect sporting performance”.

Surrounded by the starlets was the owner of Remo Stars, Remo Stars Ladies, and Beyond Limits FA; Hon. Kunle Soname lifting yet another silverware in his decades of sports administration.

Their teamwork and unity were evident, reflecting the strong ethos instilled by the coaching staff and the players’ synergy is what makes Beyond Limits FA’s rise so astonishing in the context in which it occurred.

As commonly known to all and sundry, Nigerian football is characterized by its unpredictability and intense competition, with clubs often facing financial and administrative challenges.

Unlike many of their competitors, Beyond Limits FA did not have the financial muscle or the deep resources often associated with top-tier football clubs.

Against this backdrop, Beyond Limits FA’s structured and professional approach set them apart.

Their focus on youth development and maintaining a well-organized operational framework allowed them to circumvent many pitfalls that plague other clubs.

Building on this long-concreted foundation for nurturing young talent into future stars, the Academy is here to fulfill its mission over another years to come.

Moreover, their promotion signifies a shift in Nigerian football, highlighting the potential of youth academies and the importance of long-term player development strategies.

Beyond Limits FA’s success is not just a win for the club but a beacon of hope for other academies and smaller clubs aspiring to reach the top echelons of Nigerian football.

Their journey to the NPFL was marked by financial prudence and innovative resource management.

Their remarkable journey to the top echelon of Nigerian football is a story of surprise and determination; a blend of youthful exuberance and seasoned coaching as key to their success.

The team’s management, under the guidance of a forward-thinking coaching staff, implemented a strategy that maximized their players’ strengths.

Expectations rises as the Nigerian football community long to see the lads grace the pitch against the old chaps in the top-flight division.

Going into the new season of the often predictable landscape of Nigerian top-tier football, where traditional powerhouses have long dominated both on and of the pitch.

The unexpected ascent of Beyond Limits to the league has sent ripples through the footballing community, and received with eagerness to see these whiz kids competing for domestic honours.

The academy’s ability to operate effectively within its means and still compete at a high level is a testament to its organizational strength.

This accomplishment not only marks a significant milestone for the club but also represents a broader shift in the dynamics of Nigerian football, where emerging teams are increasingly challenging established norms and reshaping the competitive landscape.

With their place in the NPFL secured, they are betrothed to new challenges, a strength-demnading acclivity, and thirty-eight (38) weeks of a test of nerve and endurance.

The club’s management ensured that the players’ focus remained on the pitch, mitigating potential distractions and disruptions.

Facing some of the league’s most formidable opponents the likes of Enyimba, Enugu Rangers, Shooting Stars, Rivers United, Plateau United, Lobi Stars, Bendel Insurance, even Remo Stars, their closest rivalry. Perhaps, the Academy would be able to compete for a spot in the top-flight division; only time will tell until then.

Meanwhile, there is a common rumour making rounds in the media for about a week now that the Academy would not participate in the forthcoming NPFL season.

Considering the hardwork put into attaining such a great feat, it would be unfair to their collective efforts and success should the whispers in the news are true.

However, the club’s management are yet to say otherwise or debunk the statement in any means as at when this publication was being written.

With Heartland FC initially indicated interest immediately their topflight journey came to an end, and were ascertain to continue life in the NNL following a humiliating 4-1 defeat to Remo Stars in one of the final curtain for the 2023/24 NPFL season.

However, all hope is not yet lost for the Academy until the deed has been done and sealed.

Besides the Owerri-based football club, Wikki Tourists and another of the newly-relegated teams, Sporting Lagos, have also followed suit in the bid to purchase the slot if the aforementioned is the case.

All pictures used are credited to Beyond Limits Football Academy.

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