African countries have for more than four decades struggled to compete favourably at the world stage most notably during the World Cup, but world football’s governing body, Fifa, has maintained that the continent has good potential but the only drawback is the slow technical development by individual football associations.
Only Cameroon, Ghana and Senegal are the African countries that have ever reached the quarterfinal of the World Cup and none has made it past the last eight.
Liberian legend George Weah is the only African player that has won the World Player of the Year award.
Fifa’s Head of Education and Technical Development, Jurg Nepfer, made the sentiments on Monday during the opening ceremony of a five-day course for African technical directors at Football Association of Malawi (Fam) headquarters at Chiwembe in Blantyre.
Nepfer said Fifa realised the apparent potential and progress that African football associations, including Fam, had made therefore it came up with technical development programmes to ensure that Africa makes it at the world stage.
He said the knowledge that the 15 technical directors from East and Central Africa Africa would get was crucial to the development of the game in this part of the world.
Nepfer said technical directors have the crucial role of coordinating the development of players from the grassroots, youth football, schools and elite leagues to supply to the national team.
“We want to empower technical directors so that they can set up programmes to move the game in the right direction. African football associations have to work on developmental football, to start from the basis, to window the football pyramid, have grassroots in the basis to provide a player pathway from grassroots to performance. With the right structures in place in member associations of Africa, with the potential talent they have, they will grow. I cannot certainly say they will win the World Cup but they will make great strides,” he said.
He said the course was the start of a long process of football development in Africa, therefore every football association would develop a football pyramid, starting from the grassroots.
Minister of Youth and Sports Grace Chiumia advised the technical directors to take the course seriously so that they could make an impact in their countries.
“Technical directors play a big role in the development of football. Equipping them with knowledge and skills will lead to an improvement in the quality of our game,” she said.
Fam president Walter Nyamilandu said the association was overwhelmed with the ‘once on a lifetime’ opportunity to host a course of that magnitude.
“This shows that Fifa has trust and confidence in us. It is not long ago that we launched the Under-15 leagues in the country. The technical directors’ course is another boost to our football development prospects. We do not have to use shortcuts to develop our game. The game of football lies in the hands of coaches. We need to find a formula for getting and nurturing raw talent. Sometimes players are wrongly developed because the coaches do not have the right knowledge. This course will help the technical directors to put in place a simplified training regime and introduce programmes that will develop the game in their respective countries,” he said.
Technical directors from Botswana, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe are taking part in the course.
Some of the instructors that will facilitate the course are Jean-Marie Conz, Natascia Spadea, Hansruedi Hasler, Solomon Mudege (Fifa) and Abdel Moneim Hussein Shatta (Confederation of African Football).
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