First it was the sponsorship deals with breweries and the television rights deals, now East African football is set to enjoy even more growth and development as one of the world’s leading football institutions, FC Barcelona, is investing in the region. The club has announced plans to build a football and talent development academy in Rwanda which will be launched in December.
Built at the cost of $10 million, the academy is a big investment for Barcelona and is particularly helpful for the Rwandan football ecosystem as the East African country seeks to become an increasingly important player in the region. The club, current champions of European football after winning the UEFA Champions League last season, is widely regarded as a leading light in football and youth development and as such the news of their interest in talent development in Rwanda is a massive boost.
Operating just like the world renowned La Masia Academy, Barcelona’s new academy in Rwanda, to be called RG Football Academy, will take in young football players, teach them the technical rudiments of football and nurture them into possibly becoming world renowned footballers. If Rwandans need any indication of the kind of talent Barcelona’s youth development team can nurture, they simply need to take a look at a roll call of legendary stars such as Leo Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Pique, Valdes and Puyol, all of whom emerged from Barcelona’s famous La Masia.
Speaking about the academy and its potential for developing Rwandan football, former Barcelona trainee Luis Garcia says the goal will be to identify Rwanda’s next generation. “The RG Sports Academy will help in identifying and training the next generation of Rwandan players equipped with the philosophy of La Masia. The only way to develop football in Rwanda and Africa at large is for people in the football sector to start working like we do in Spain on tactical, physical, psychological concepts,” Garcia said.
Barcelona is also ramping up football development in another East African country as the club and its legends plan a range of football coaching clinics and campaigns in Uganda. Barcelona’s operations in the region, should they go on unhindered for a stretch of time, will no doubt raise the profile of football in East Africa- a region that has struggled to assert its presence in African competitions at youth and senior levels.
The RG Academy in Rwanda will kick start operations before the end of the year with one of the greatest footballers and coaches of all time, Johan Cruyff leading training sessions. Put simply, the future of Rwandan football could not have been entrusted to better hands.
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