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Mo’s soccer academy decision commendable

MTIBWA Sugar on Monday night, this week, downed Simba Sports Club by one goal to nil to win the Mapinduzi Cup in an exciting match played at the…in Zanzibar.

The victory was quite a milestone for the Morogoro based club which has always played a second fiddle to Simba and Young Africans.

But on Monday night they decided they had had just enough with that role and this time, plucked up courage and went for the jugular, taking, in the process, the front seat. Mtibwa Sugar’s victory was not surprising at least for some of us who have been following, very closely, the club’s progress in the last decade or so.

For unlike Tanzanian soccer clubs, Mtibwa Sugar hardly spends money in buying local players. But instead, they produce their own top flight players and later sell them to Simba, Young Africans and others in the pack. They have lived, since their formation, to former Arsenal team manager, Arsene Wenger’s, maxim to the letter.

Wenger, during his good old days in North London as the Gunners’ Manager used to say, “I don’t buy stars. I produce them.” And, to date Arsenal is the only club in the English Premier League that won the league without losing a match, a feat that may perhaps be equaled by Liverpool this season.

Mtibwa Sugar has for a very long time been trained by its own former players and the guy who goes down to have remained with the club for a very long time as a player and tactician is the former Taifa Stars’ skipper, Mecky Maxime.

To me, Mtibwa Sugar is the best example of what a premier league club ought to be, a school for producing future soccer stars and Morogoro soccer club has done that to the hilt. For those who may not know, and this includes some Tanzanian journalists, Mtibwa Sugar is the country’s champions of U-17, U-20 and U-23.

And, the Mtibwa Sugar that played against Simba on Monday night this week was a combination of their U-17, U-20 and U-23. Apart from Mtibwa Sugar, the other team in the premier league which has been involved in the moulding of young talents through its own stable, call it soccer academy if you like, is Azam FC.

At least two Azam FC players who went through the club’s soccer academy are presently trying their luck in Spain and this is what a club should and ought to be doing. And this is what Simba and Young Africans ought to have, for a very long time, done and were presently doing instead of buying foreign players most of whom have failed to live up to the billing.

As Mtibwa Sugar were beating Simba on Monday night, it was comforting to read from Simba’s investor, Mohamed Dewji or simply MO, saying he had decided to quit the chairmanship of the club’s board and that he would from now onwards only remain as an investor and concentrate in developing and running soccer academy in the club.

Mo’s decision to now put his financial weight in soccer academy is spot on, and had he got involved in the development and running of soccer academy four years ago, we would have been talking something else today. Mo said he had to date spent four billions Tanzanian shillings on the club since becoming an investor.

And being a business man one can understand why he now wants to put his money where the club’s mouth should be. I have personally said in my past sports columns that there is nothing as worthless as spending one’s money on players who learnt soccer trade through the streets!

Such players lack many things which include among others, lack of discipline and requisite attitudes for game. The foregoing could have easily been dealt with at the level of soccer academy when the players were still at tender age. For a start, here is my advice to Mo.

Get the present Simba chief coach and his team of technical bench to train soccer academy players, every day, between 2pm and 4pm before devoting their time to the senior team later. For a start, Mo does not need to involve himself in expensive infrastructure for the players.

What he simply needs to do is to get hold of primary school pupils, boys and girls of between 10 and 12 from Dar es Salaam. He could start by scouting talents from Dar primary schools. And legible pupils should be only those who are also very serious in their studies. In short, he should not get into the team dropouts!

Modern football requires boys and girls who are also in love of schooling. The only major expenses Mo would have to deal with is food, and in particular, milk and the purchase of at least two buses for ferrying the children from their respective primary schools to the playing grounds and back home.

The beauty of people like Mo and other top premier league clubs getting involved in what Mtibwa Sugar and Azam FC are presently involved in; is that, they don’t produce future players for their clubs only, but also for the Taifa Stars.


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