AFTER writing for over four years now on the importance of establishing soccer academy for any soccer club that wants to get into competitive soccer, this week I googled to find out Ghana’s involvement in such institutions.
The question is why did I pick Ghana? Well, I picked Ghana because of the country’s increased number of quality professional soccer players in Europe. And, guess what I saw.
A plethora of top flight soccer academies that the West African country has established and which have been responsible for churning out Ghanaian players we see in Africa and Europe today.
What was more surprising for me is, the soccer academies also carry pictures and YouTubes of players currently playing in top flight soccer leagues in Europe, players who had gone through the soccer academies. What is more, some of the soccer academies were established by top European clubs.
This includes Netherlands’ Feyenoord. Feyenoord was allowed to establish a soccer academy in the eastern part of Ghana in 1998.The academy later became known as West African Football Academy in short WAFA. Ghanaian soccer academies are awash with advertisements for parents to send their kids to the institutions.
For instance, one of such advertisements which are carried by ghanasoccernet.com runs as follows: ‘It is vital to enroll your kids in soccer academies so that they can learn the different aspects that football has to offer from a tender age.
Your kid will also grow healthier because football makes them active as the coaching staff, as well as volunteers nurture their talents. Remember that football playing is a career in itself and once you enroll your kid in a soccer academy, they will develop interest for the game and desire to strengthen their weaknesses.
In no time, your child will join a professional soccer team and make huge strides out of their career.’ Simply put, soccer academy in Ghana is an industry that is bigger than what we have on Tanzania’s soccer scene. And that is how serious in football development the West African nation is.
When you go through the number of well established soccer academies in Ghana, you come to understand why the country has such well established quality players. You also come to understand the presence of very good Ghanaian soccer players in our Vodacom premier league.
Therefore, instead of being involved in fight over Ghanaian players who have been brought into the country by others, we need to start producing our own players. If you learn how Thomas Partey, currently with the English premier club, Arsenal, left Ghana for the Spanish club, Athletic Madrid, you would realise how well, organized and committed Ghanaian players are.
Thomas left Ghana for the Spanish club without the knowledge of his parents. He was so committed to turning around his soccer career that he left his motherland secretly. But his trip to the top flight Spanish club was well organized. He went straight into the club and started playing in the Spanish top flight.
His father, according to the website, was a top flight Ghanaian coach. Now you can understand why Thomas Partey is where he is today. As I have repeatedly noted in my columns in the past, you cannot play the kind of football Partey plays today if you learnt your football through the streets.
Websites of Ghanaian soccer academies are not only vast, but they also carry a lot of information on what they do, where and they started and where they are at present. Our premier soccer clubs need to change and embrace this new modern way of preparing their players by getting their future stars when they are still at their tender age.
You remember the Kiswahili saying, samaki mkunje angali mbichi---strike the iron when it’s still hot? It is easier to make a future, soccer star if you forge him on the soccer anvil but from his or her tender age. At tender age, it is easier to make a boy learn how to use both feet in kicking the ball.
It is also easy to make him move with the ball without looking down. It is at tender age that a boy or girl can be taught her to head the ball without closing his or her eyes. The player needs to see where he or she is heading the ball to.
It is also easy to inculcate in children how to stick to and adhere to soccer rules and learn the most important basics of the game. Our street trained players are not all that bad. But because we get them when they have already learnt good and bad ways on the game, it is always very difficult to forge them into modern players.
You remember what the new Burundian coach told Young Africans players this week? If you have forgotten, here is what he said: ‘Players who play to the gallery have no place in my team.’ In kiswahili he said; “wachezaji wanaofurahisha watazamaji hawatakuwa na nafasi katika timu yangu.
That is what it should be. You should not play like that Aston Villa player who is always given to showing off, keeping the ball to himself when he is supposed to pass the ball to others and get the ball moving fast.