Youth football in focus

21Jul 2021
Correspondent
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Youth football in focus

TODAY, Dear Reader, we shall deliberate upon one of the time-honoured pathways to outstanding success in football, youth development.

A Dar es Salaam youth football side prepares for one of the recent junior tournaments' fixtures that took place in the city.

Indeed, there used to be a time here in this country when we treated this sober matter flippantly and in fact, gave it short shrift.

Thankfully though, our cognizance of the sheer essentiality of youth development to football quintessence on our shores has significantly improved over the last couple of years and we have even groomed quite a considerable number of young starlets-turned-football icons in the country.

Still, we can do more and our efforts in this regard are soon set to receive a hopefully transformative shot in the arm.

Indeed, the boost that I am alluding to concerns recent reports that a top-notch football center is presently being built in Tanga and its construction is being bankrolled by world football’s governing body FIFA.

Set to be operational by January next year, it is envisaged by the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) that the center will serve as a hub for the development of Tanzanian children’s football and also youth football.

But, hold your horses. This feel-good story gets even better. Indeed, according to the TFF, it is envisioned that national junior football teams and national women’s football teams will also use the center as an ideal place to improve.

Without a shadow of doubt, this ranks as one of the most potentially helpful football developments ever to have emerged on the home front.

It is hoped then that in the years to come, the center will acquire an impeccable reputation that may come close to being at par with world-famous hubs of youth talent such as Barcelona’s internationally renowned La Marcia football academy and the state-of-the-art St. George’s football center in London, England.

Let us segue nicely now into pondering on continental football where the much-anticipated do-or-die 2020-21 CAF Champions League final was decided last Saturday between perennial heavyweights Al Ahly and Soweto juggernauts, Kaizer Chiefs, whose advancement to the tourney’s high stakes climax took many observers by surprise.

As if there wasn’t already a lot on the line, an extra edge of rivalry was added to the no-holds-barred contest by the interesting fact that Al Ahly’s coach is none other than the immensely successful South African tactician Pitso Mosimane while Kaizer Chiefs are most naturally, a South African side to boot.

Thus, with the stage so brilliantly set, the encounter turned out to be rather a let-down for all those quarters who had been expecting a see-sawing, and pulsating football contest between two veritable aristocratic continental football outfits.

For, in the end, the final was an almost one-sided affair as Al Ahly turned on the style and produced a genuinely masterful display to comfortably see off Kaizer Chiefs with a dominant 3-0 triumph.

For the revered South African coach Mosimane, the victory marked his second consecutive CAF Champions League triumph with Al Ahly after he unforgettably shepherded the Egyptian football behemoths to cup glory last year.

And, if there were any nay-sayers and doubters who have been questionably putting Mosimane under fire, then the South African has furnished them with the latest evidence yet that he is unmistakably a coach with the Midas Touch.

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