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TEAMS NEED ACADEMIES NOW MORE THAN EVER

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"There are no shortcuts to building a team each season. You build the foundation brick by brick,” wrote one Bill Belichick.

This speaks mainly to teams that look to achieve results without laying the proper foundation. This past Sunday the Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Dr Patrice Motsepe revealed that the continental body would stage the inaugural edition of the annual African Super League in August next year, which will have over E6 billion  ($100 million) in prize money. The announcement was made following an executive committee meeting in Morocco, where a number of issues were discussed, including reverting to a two-legged CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup final. While the format of the Super League is yet to be disclosed and how participants will be selected, CAF has revealed that participating sides will need to have an academy and a women’s team.  

wonderful

Based on the academy requirement, all the country’s premier league teams could miss out on this wonderful opportunity. Some of the premier league teams usually have juniors competing in leagues and tournaments across the regions, but having these youngsters alone does not constitute as having academy. A football academy is a facility set up to develop young footballers. It is most often thought of as a training school to teach young players how to play football, in a bid to meet the club’s specific standards. The ability to provide the right tools to players is the key starting point. From the pitch and quality of turf that allows maximising development of individual technical skills, the location of the facility – all aspects are important to gain maximum results. In a nutshell, a football academy is a place where junior footballers learn the skills to become professionals.

For young players, one goal is shared above all, to learn the fundamentals and master the techniques in order to become world-class football stars. This should also be the approach of the academy itself. Every business is created with passion. Passion should be the driving force behind the business. The vision should be having quality players that will make it into the first XI of the club and to create an environment, in which home-grown players fully identify themselves with the academy. This would create a positive atmosphere of competition among the players and also an emotional bond by creating fond memories of all of them; the young players and coaches together.

The preferred location, according to experts, is a remote area which is peaceful, giving both coaches and players the chance to do the right job. Sometimes it comes to simple tools that are more effective. For effective training sessions, you need to have goal nets, whistles, posts, footballs, bibs, hurdles, cones and much more. In general, an academy should take care of their infrastructure and players exactly the same way as a top-tier club. Giving a player enough exposure and engendering a feeling of inclusion emanating from contact with first-team players might be a positive addition to the overall improvement and will give focus to young players on the aim to become professionals in few years.

inclined

While many top flight coaches are less inclined to teach young players what is expected – at that level, it is assumed that players know what to do – neglecting youth in favour of established names has its flaws. One key advantage of starting a professional career in an academy, experts say, is that the player gets to play as much football as possible at a tender age: often a minimum of three hours training a week at age eight and five hours for 12 to 16 years. The time is spent passing, changing paces and moving with the ball while guiding and keeping it in position, learning set pieces and finishing, and then repeating the process over and over again.

Experts believe this to be the right type of training for youngsters, as the system and the skills involved will become ingrained in the muscles. Some teams will be quick to use financial constraint as an excuse for not having an academy. We say that is not good enough. Bag a commercial sponsor. Sponsorship deals can be lucrative but tricky to find. They are among one of the most popular fundraising ideas for football teams. The best bet is to target local businesses and emphasise how much you can offer them in return for their cash. Options include printing their logo onto football kits, erecting advertising boards around the pitch, promoting them on social media and sharing your facilities should they want to host an event.

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