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EDITORIAL: Bringing Our A-game To International Football

Students of African football marvel at the wealth of talent produced by the continent that play in top international clubs. With relatively poor infrastructure and resources multi-millionaire stars have emerged
26 Jun 2015 13:38
EDITORIAL: Bringing Our A-game To International Football

Students of African football marvel at the wealth of talent produced by the continent that play in top international clubs.

With relatively poor infrastructure and resources multi-millionaire stars have emerged in recent times like Christopher Samba (Republic of the Congo), Seydou Keita (Mali), Frederic Kanoute (Mali), John Obi Mikel (Nigeria), Kolo Toure (Ivory Coast) and Micheal Essien (Ghana) ply their trade in top football competitions in Europe.

Then there’s Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo), Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast), Didier Droga (Ivory Coast) and Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon).

The huge talent pool has been the focus of FIFA who invested heavily in the continent in the past few decades. This has produced dividends in the FIFA U-20 competitions and with individual players. The infamous Sepp Blatter, for all his faults, was a champion of African football and indeed marginalised countries like Fiji, who wanted a bigger share of the international football pie.

An interesting feature of the African model is the number of home-grown football academies and institutes. One for example, is the Kadji Sports Academies in Bekoko, Douala, Cameroon. The academy was the brainchild of Gilbert Kadji, one of Africa’s richest men. The academy’s crown jewel, so to speak, is Samuel Eto’o, who played for the academy’s youth team. The rest is history.

Eto-o is the most decorated African footballer of all time, the richest (est. $180million), and had successful stints with Barcelona FC, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Everton and Real Madrid, to mention just a few of his achievements. He was also a gold medal winner with his national team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Indeed, Fiji FA might want to study the African model closely to see how they can take Fiji football to the next level. Granted, we don’t have the talent pool of the African continent and the thriving culture of street football, like Brazil, that hones individual talent and skills. What we did see in the recent FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand was the Fijians’ physicality and their determination to succeed.

We’ve argued before in this column that Fijian athletes and administrators need to set their targets high enough, straight to the Olympics and work to a detailed plan and schedule. If Ben Ryan, coach of the successful Vodafone National 7s team can do it, why can’t anyone else?

We add to these words by saying Fiji FA should set its sights high enough to more prominent platforms in Europe. Roy Krishna is a deserved hero for Fijian football fans. Fiji FA deserve all the plaudits for believing in Krishna.

The average salary in the A-League, where Krishna’s Wellington Phoenix plays, according to credible estimates is $105,000.

But we can do better, one step at a time.

Feedback: josuat@fijisun.com.fj




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