Youth dev’t should be enforced at grassroots

WHO can identify the best youth player in the country? Better still, who can tell us the best sporting academy that produces talented footballers for the future? No one, because these are just luxuries that we dream about.
Bonnie Mugabe
Bonnie Mugabe

WHO can identify the best youth player in the country? Better still, who can tell us the best sporting academy that produces talented footballers for the future? No one, because these are just luxuries that we dream about.

 The national senior team, Amavubi, will face Mali next month in a 2014 World Cup qualifier with many Rwandans less than confident that their team can do well as it has been the norm in the past World or continental encounters.

There are two or three players, who have come through the junior ranks and are potential match winners, but the rest? Well they missed the bus.

I liken junior development of players to the work of a surgeon. No way will they let you operate on someone unless you have got the credentials to prove you can do it.

These credentials include going to a reputable academy, getting your degree and, more importantly, going through hours and hours of practical work.

Footballers need to follow the same example. You cannot be a national team player and only start playing for Amavubi at the age of 28 years.

What were you doing when you were 18, 23 or even 25? Did you go through the right training, the correct development of being a qualified footballer?

Very often we run off and blame – and often fire football coaches for not producing results. It’s the blame game going off at a tangent.

Coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojovic though he might have his own weaknesses, should never be blamed for whatever results in the qualifiers because, instead of lecturing players on the game tactics, he is meant to first train and nurture players into what they should be, a thing that should have been done in the academies.

There are clear examples of even veteran players who need more than training to be able to fit into any coach’s game plan and that is why he hardly has any player who can make a difference.

The focus should shift to the powers that be. How could they continue to let everything go so astray?

Since the 2004 Nations Cup final, we still await the blueprint on saving Rwandan football.

A plan that should prescribe how a player starts from the lower age groups to becoming an international star is needed at this crucial moment if we are to realise our dream of qualifying again for Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup finals.

A rule book that emphasises that any player who plays for the national team should have played for Under-17, 21, 23 – and for at least 20 games in each team.

That player will have gone through the right processes, through the correct development path.

Right now we are sitting with players who cannot pass 30m, players whose first touches are pathetic and, surprisingly, are given national team caps.

We cannot blame Micho or any other coach who will replace him come late this year when his contract expires, if a player cannot control a ball. It’s the past coming back to haunt us.

I would believe this is the right time to start implementing these rules. Oh wait, we’ve got World Cup and CHAN qualifiers to worry about. Same old song I guess....

 

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