Soccer centre is new goal for KSD
Academy is a development initiative underwritten by Liverpool Football Club
MTHATHA might soon boast a soccer academy on par with the best academies in the world. The facility could even see promising players from King Sabata Dalindyebo (KSD) Municipality rubbing shoulders with global superstars like Steven Gerrard.
MM Multimedia Management, a South African company driving the establishment of soccer academies to enhance the sport’s development, met with a delegation from the municipality last Friday to discuss the possibility.
The company’s Bongani Jack said they had last year signed a memorandum of understanding with English Premiership giants Liverpool Football Club about the possibility of investing in an academy in the Eastern Cape.
“We decided on KSD as we feel that the area has a lot of untapped talent. We have several sponsors who have confirmed their readiness to put financial muscle into this project,” he said.
Although the company engaged in talks with several renowned soccer clubs including Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Arsenal and some Dutch sides, only Liverpool had shown interest in investing in the project so far.
“They [Liverpool] are one of the leading teams in the world when it comes to soccer development. We visited the team last year when they agreed to invest in the soccer academy.
“Our research has revealed that careers of most soccer professionals are killed by the media due to overexposure and fame,” he said.
As such, the academy will focus on teaching promising footballers skills like how to handle the media and how to properly manage their finances.
Boys and girls as young as seven would be recruited into the academy through trials but Jack said more focus would be placed on the U/15 and U/17 levels.
Local coaches will be recruited to work in the academy for the first two years while exchange programmes will be carried out with the Liverpool team.
This will include Liverpool legends like Ian Rush coming down to KSD to carry out coaching clinics.
The English giants will have the first option to buy promising players.
It is also projected that the academy could have major spinoffs for the KSD area in aeas like tourism, reducing crime, moral regeneration and international exposure for the province, said Jack.
The academy will result in massive job opportunities for the area while communities involved in the project will benefit from using world class facilities that the academy will have.
The company allegedly presented a plan to build a similar academy in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan area last year. However, Jack refused to elaborate on plans to build the two academies.
Eastern Cape soccer legends coordinator Dr Zukile Luyenge said the former Transkei area was blessed with many talented players.
“This is a real blessing as this area was ravaged by apartheid.
“We have talent here but we just need to identify people who can assist in developing it further.
“The idea of the academy is therefore brilliant,” he said.
KSD councillor Pasika Nontshiza hailed the initiative as long overdue, while KSD delegation leader councillor Nontyatyambo Gcingca promised to report back to the council about the planned soccer academy. — firstname.lastname@example.org