Leopards either embrace youth football or die

World over, successful clubs are those that invest in academies.

Monday March 28 2016

AFC Leopards' Allan Kateregga celebrates his goal against Chemelil Sugar FC with teammate Lamine Diallo during their SportPesa Premier League match played on March 13, 2016 at Nyayo National Stadium. The teams drew 1-1. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

AFC Leopards' Allan Kateregga celebrates his goal against Chemelil Sugar FC with teammate Lamine Diallo during their SportPesa Premier League match played on March 13, 2016 at Nyayo National Stadium. The teams drew 1-1. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By PETER LEFTIE
More by this Author

Love him or hate me, Louis van Gaal, when he eventually departs, will leave Manchester United a much better club than he found it, take it from me.

The guy may have no trophies to show for his time at Old Trafford, thanks to a combination of cruel fate and many other footballing factors both within and outside his control.

The folly of being a manager of a club of Manchester’s high standards is that your legacy is measured only in terms of trophies won. Unfortunately, the veteran Dutch tactician has no silverware to show for his time at the club.

But for those who cherish continuity, van Gaal will be remembered for many years to come for giving a chance to youngsters such as Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Timothy Fosu Mensah.

World over, successful clubs are those that invest in academies. The great Ajax Amsterdam side, which won the Champions League in 1995, largely comprised stars who had honed their skills in the club’s youth wing. They included the likes of Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Michael Reizigar, the de Boer brothers Frank and Ronald, Marc Overmars, Patrick Kluivert, Kiki Musampa and even Edwin van de Sar.

The great Barcelona has over the years derived its success from its famed La Masia academy that has continued to ensure an endless supply of talent to the senior team.

TALENT FACTORY

Guys like Xavi Hernandez, Leo Messi, Andreas Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fabregas, even Pep Guardiola, current coach Luis Enrique and many others were all manufactured in this talent factory.

This is the direction Ingwe must take. I understand this will take time and resources but it is extremely important that the leadership at AFC Leopards takes this matter very seriously. There are no two ways about it, we either embrace youth football or perish.

I am aware that the AFC Leopards management is in the process of assembling an under-19 team. Trials have been held and on account of Peter Lichungu’s word, the boys who were selected look very promising.

It must be understood that we are not inventing the wheel. The success of the JJ Masiga, Josephat Murila, Mahmoud Abbas generation was anchored on an informal youth system. Unlike in the current case, that generation relied on an endless supply of talent from our own La Masia – Kakamega and Musingu High Schools.

That is where the likes of Lichungu, Mike Amwayi, Dan Musuku, Peter ‘Zimbo’ Owade, Patrick Shilasi, Kefa Tasso, and later, Reginald Asibwa, Joseph Atitwa “Moreno”, Maurice Sunguti were all discovered.

The challenge for the office which will be elected next month is to ensure that the academy project is not only realized, but is also sustained. It is refreshing to hear guys like Anthony Lung’aho embracing ideas such as securing sponsorship for the under-19 team.

These are the kind of ideas that if implemented, will separate Ingwe from the rest.

[email protected]

advertisement