As football continues to grow all over the world with clubs across the globe hunting for the next biggest star to groom, foreign teams are extending their tentacles to the African continent to form partnerships with local academies.
Others have bought huge percentages in teams and became bankrollers, some have over the years also established academies on the continent as preparatory grounds to nurture talent and ship them into their main teams in Europe.
The Dutch were the masters in this business as their teams such as Ajax Amsterdam and Feyenoord Rotterdam made great strides on the African continent.
The former became majority shareholders of Cape Town FC, took control of their youth system and changed the name of the club to Ajax Cape town.
They also formed a partnership with Ghanaian club Ashanti Gold FC on June 18, 1999 and renamed the club’s Academy as “Ashanti Gold Ajax Academy.” The results of these academies proved beneficial to Ghana and South Africa respectively as those were the place players like Benedict McCarthy, John Mensah, Mubarak Wakaso and others were nurtured.
The French later followed suit having realized the huge talents on the African continent in 1993, their former national team player Jean Marc Guillou who was working for ASEC founded the ASEC Mimosa Football Academy.
This academy scouted and groomed youth such as Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure, Bonaventure Kalou, Salomon Kalou, Emmanuel Eboue, and a lot of others who were the mainstay of the squad which qualified the Ivory Coast to the world cup for the first time in 2006 and also won the AFCON in 2015.
Ghanaian Academy ‘Right to Dream’ which is owned by former Manchester United chief scout for West Africa, Tom Vernon was also in affiliation with Manchester City for more than a decade until the owner bought Danish club FC Nordsjaelland and decided to ship his products to graduate from the Academy there.
Currently, the only foreign club which is not in affiliation but has built its own Academy on the African continent is Aspire of Qatar which has a multi-million Academy in Senegal to help groom talents from the West African region.
In regards to East Africa, there is no standardized football academy to groom talents as those in countries such as Kenya, Uganda and others are not all that equipped and they have no partnerships or affiliations to foreign clubs to send their products for further development.
Thus, PSG’s quest to establish an Academy in Rwanda due to a partnership with the country is good news as it also comes at a time Rwanda football is in dark moments with its future looking very bleak due to lack of proper talent developments.
The academy is part of a three-year sponsorship deal that was signed in December 2019 between Rwanda and the French Ligue champions.
This is not actually the first time Rwanda is having a well equipped Academy as the country’s football federation used to have its own academy (FERWAFA Academy) and it yielded great dividends as most of the players namely Michel Rusheshangoga, Marcel Nzarora and others who helped Rwanda to qualify for the 2011 Under 17 world cup were from the there.
Certainly, the PSG Academy situated in the Southern Rwandan Province of Huye will help the country to develop more quality young talents who can spearhead the country’s quest to rise to the apex of African football in the near future.
The first phase of selection of players to the PSG academy has been done with a total of 172 children (boys and girls) aged between 6 and 16 being drafted into the Academy during a scouting project in schools and elsewhere which had over 2,000 children taken part.
The PSG Academy in Rwanda was officially inaugurated on November 27, 2021 and it is evident that a solid foundation for Rwandan football has been laid. This Academy will benefit the country immensely and do not be surprised to see the nation being a force to reckon with on the African continent in the next five to ten years.