THE BLUES are to take an Academy team to Nigeria later this month to compete in a new six-a-side tournament.
Andy Awford’s youngsters have been invited by the Sodje Sports Foundation to take part in the Eko Football Festival in Lagos.
Pompey, who will be the only representatives from Europe, will leave on September 24 for six days in a move Awford is convinced will benefit the teenagers’ development.
The Academy manager and physio Sean Duggan will accompany six second-year apprentices to the event.
What’s more, it won’t cost Pompey a penny, with Soccerex, the Lagos authorities and Arik Air footing the bill in its entirety.
The event falls on a blank fixture weekend for the youngsters, making it a timely trip in Awford’s eyes.
And he believes those Pompey players invited to attend will be able to reap the benefits.
He said: ‘If we win the cup then great but I am not going for that reason.
‘This is about our lads being given the opportunity to experience another culture and another country and all the benefits that go with that.
‘There are affluent areas in that part of the world and we will see some underprivileged ones as well, so it will be a great experience for us all.
‘We haven’t got a match on the Saturday so are not going to miss any games. It comes at a good time for our second-year apprentices.
‘We have nine in that year, of which one is injured and another is Adam Webster – who won’t go – so it will be a case of selecting a team of six.
‘I would also like to stress that this club is not spending a penny – it is entirely funded by the hosts.
‘For that we owe them a massive thanks, firstly for inviting us and then making it a possibility through funding.
‘The Lagos state government has our thanks, along with others who have helped make this possible.’
Meanwhile, the Academy are without a match this weekend.
Their last action was at Bournemouth on Saturday, where they suffered a 3-1 defeat.
For Awford, it represented a harsh return from their best performance since defeating Bristol City 5-1 in the FA Youth Cup in December.
He added: ‘We were unlucky at Bournemouth and actually played really well.
‘We just let ourselves down in both boxes. We missed chances and didn’t defend ours very well.
‘In between that I thought it was the best we have played since Bristol City.
‘I was delighted with the performance, just not the result.’
The Academy’s next game is at Southend on Saturday, September 22.
They currently sit fifth in the Youth Alliance South East League.