After spending almost two years in a club he knows very well, Olympique de Barbentane, Gilles Hugon has decided to return to the African continent to embark on a new experience in Nigeria. The former COACH of the U20R club bucco-Rhone exclusively confides to Actufoot on the reasons for his departure and tells us about his new project.

You have decided to leave Barbentane for a new project in Africa, can you tell us more about it?

The project is simple and very interesting sportingly because it is a private academy in Lagos, Nigeria. It bears the name of its owner « Prince Kazeem Eletu FC ». The objective initially will be to make the young people currently in the workforce (16 to 21 years old) work to go and play in a senior tournament (4 teams) in Morocco in mid-January in order to publicize the academy of recruiters. Europeans present and, why not, to sign a player in Morocco or in Europe.

How were the discussions with your new club?

I was put in touch by a colleague from the technical commission of the Grand Vaucluse district who knew about my past in Africa. The discussions were rather quick because the current quickly passed with the DIRECTEUR TECHNIQUE. In addition, I was very motivated to return to the African continent and in particular with young players.

« The objective will be to train the players that we select by playing in the F.A. Cup »

What will your role be?

I will be the main COACH of the academy. My role will be to do a program over two and a half months to prepare for the tournament, host the 7 weekly sessions and set up a program allowing young people to progress.

I am also taking care (with the help of a Nigerian deputy) of another developing team. They are a younger team (13-15 years old) which is another goal of the academy.

Subsequently, the objective will be to train the players that we will select by competing in the F.A. Cup (Inter-Academy Cup) which is the only existing competition among young people in Nigeria.

Gilles Hugon donne ses consignes avec attention à ses nouveaux jeunes joueurs
Gilles Hugon gives his instructions carefully to his new young players

How was your adaptation there?

The adaptation was quick and easy. The DIRECTEUR TECHNIQUE with whom I work closely is a French (Alexandre Coppolani). The welcome from the owner and the players was warm. We work well with players who are very demanding and willing to sacrifice a lot to make their dream come true.

Africa, is it a continent that you already know?

Yes, since my first experience in 2002 in Cameroon, I spent nearly 10 years in Africa with twice 2 years in Cameroon for young people and in L1, 2 years in Madagascar at the head of the national academy, one season in Algeria with U19 in an academy, and passages in Congo-Brazza and Guinea-Conakry (L1 for these 2 countries).

Une des équipes nigérianes entraînées par l’ancien COACH de l’OB
One of the Nigerian teams COACHed by the former OB COACH

« The leaders respected their commitment to release me in the event of a contract abroad »

What do you remember from your experience with Barbentane?

At the end of January 2019 on my return from Guinea, I found the OB where I have played many seasons. I enjoyed working with young people from the village, including some children of very close friends. I also had the goal of passing the DESJEPS after having had the DEF in 2010 and I was able to rely on the help of the club and its leaders to achieve this. I retain from these 22 months (minus the Covid period) players full of envy, values ​​specific to regional football and a rise last season.

Do you have a word to say to your former players and to the Barbentane club?

Of course, to the players but also to the leaders. I thank them for their welcome, for their efforts to progress in a pleasant atmosphere while working seriously. As for the leaders, they did more than one would expect from volunteer leaders and kept their commitment to release me in the event of a contract abroad.

What can we wish you for the future?

To be able to work in the medium or long term in Lagos because African football is full of surprises. So wish that the first impressions were good and that I had arrived in a more stable youth club. The owner, very calm and thoughtful, knows that the project can only be completed after at least three seasons of regular work.

A last word to finish?

I am in regular contact with my colleagues from the district technical commission as well as those from the Barbentane club, so I know that the consequences of the virus are very detrimental to regional and departmental football. I feel a little privileged to be able to go for one or two sessions a day and I send my support to all the leaders, educators and players in need of football in recent weeks.