Government calls for investment in youth soccer development program

25Feb 2021
Joseph Mchekadona
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Government calls for investment in youth soccer development program

THE government has said that unless Tanzania paid attention to detail on youth football, it will never become a big football force.

A section of players making national U-17 soccer squad 'Serengeti Boys' feature in a recent training in Dar es Salaam. PHOTO: COURTESY OF TFF

Alex Mkeyenge, who was the government official at the ongoing U-20 African Cup of Nations' finals in Mauritania, which had the country's team 'Ngorongoro Heroes' taking part, made the call on Tuesday.

The Tanzania U-20 squad was eliminated in group stage of the U-20 African Cup of Nations' finals, suffering two defeats and registering draw in one outing.

In a monitored radio interview, the official said the country has abundant players with individual talents, but they cannot rise to the occasion due to their background as most of them did not go through football academies.

He said academies are the surest way for the country to groom its talent capable of rising the the country’s flag in Europe and improve local football.

“We have been eliminated from the U-20 African Cup of Nations tournament but that does not mean we have bad players, the country has many talented players,'' he disclosed.

''They are good with a bright future, but the problem I observed at the Mauritania tournament is that most of our players did not go through the required development structures, nearly all teams who competed there have players who have been to academies either local or international,” he said.

He said the government will have discussions with local academy owners to see how the latter can cooperate with the former for the development of football in the country.

“Football academies the world over have proved to be the surest way to the development of talent. Gone are the days when talent could be picked from the streets and disorganised youth football leagues,'' he stated.

''We will discuss with academy owners to see how we can work together to improve football in the country,” he said.

He said when they meet with academy owners, emphasis will be on seeing to it that the academies have qualified coaches, nutritionists and physical trainers. He stated the three are vital for youth football development.

The government official said he is confident that the national U-17 soccer squad 'Serengeti Boys', which is preparing for the 2021 Africa U-17 Cup of Nation, which is slated for July this year in Cameroon, will perform well as almost all players making the team have been together since 2015.

“The U-17 national team 'Serengeti Boys' will perform well at the Morocco tournament, the boys have been together since 2015 and they are from academies,” he said.

Proponents of academies say the old football generation, unlike current young players who are exposed to modern technological demands, had lesser distractions given soccer was the only preoccupation, apart from school.

It is not for the sake of it that most African countries aspire to have their best players in Europe.

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