NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 4 – There is an old adage in sports that success comes and goes in cycles! Those were the words of former FIFA President Sepp Blatter while describing footballing generations.
Generations in sports come and go, but when there was no meaningful initiative or strategic plan to keep the fire burning, efforts of yore go down the drain fast.
The Blatter football adage further explains- “if you fail to groom the youngsters of today, you surely end up with half-baked material in the future”.
Morocco became the first African nation to qualify for the semifinal of a FIFA World Cup, and the idea about nurturing talent in that part of the world is phenomenon.
Institut Des Metiers Des Sports, located in Kenitra City, which is 54km from Rabat, is one of the best sports academies in Africa, located in Morocco.
It’s a government owned University that also offers the best in sports featuring all disciplines including football, athletics, basketball, boxing, taekwondo racket games and aquatic sports.
But the million-dollar question as African countries seeks to emulate Morocco’s trailblazing World Cup feat is: Where is African youth sports headed in the next few years to come? And when is the next African Messi coming through its football ranks?
Samir Abaakil, Head Department of School Sport Promotion in Morocco’s National Ministry of Education Pre-School and Sports, has the answers to these pertinent questions.
The players in the institution are under-17 who get advantage of enjoying the state-of-the-art learning facilities.
During the visit in Morocco, as the country hosted the FIFA Club World Cup, the institute was having a one-day football tournament for both boys and girls.
“We normally have a competition comprising of six teams for boys and seven for girls, the winner of this competition participates in the International School Sports Federation World Championships,” Abaakil explained to Capital Sport in Morocco.
“We choose the best of the best who also get absorbed in the national academy, Morocco’s Football Federation usually come here to scout players and even today there are representatives who are watching, several players have played for the under-17 national teams,” the Director added.
“There some girls from our school who represented the country in India at Under-17 World Championships so this is like a feeder system for the national teams.”
“We have six universities like this in Morocco. We have similar objectives with what FIFA does to promote youth football. What Morocoo did in Qatar was a fascinating eye-opener.”
“The team performance has worked to inspired countless other young people in Morocco and across the African continent to take up sports, and they are all eager to join national teams.”
“The Atlas Lions were ranked 10th in the FIFA World Rankings in April 1998. They were ranked by FIFA as the top African national team for three consecutive years, from 1997 to 1999. As of December 2022, Morocco is ranked as the 11th best national team in the world.”
Asked about the opportunity of hosting the FIFA Club World Cup for the third time, Abaakil remarked: “We move at the same speed with FIFA and national federations to ensure that the sport grows in leaps and bounds.”
The Institute one of the 11 establishments of the Ibn Tofail University of Kenitra, was created in 2020. It is an establishment with regulated access, its purpose is to train baccalaureate in the field of economics, sociology, and sports management.
-Alex Isaboke is reporting from Rabat, Morocco-