Youth Football : Develop The Key Nursery!

Football appears to be that religion that converts almost everyone in Cameroon irrespective of language or culture. When the national team for instance is playing; be it male or female, almost all attention is tilted towards the stadium to know the outcome. Even those who had been dispirited by one problem or the other and might have vowed never to put their minds in football affairs would either secretly watch matches or struggle to get the results at the end. 
In effect, football has proven over the years to be that irresistible bond that knits all citizens from North to South and East to West. When Cameroonians throng the stadium or get glued to their television sets, the national anthem that precedes every football match catches the attention of all as they look forward to the spectacle. During such moments, feelings of superiority and or inferiority that often dampen a sense of belonging are forgotten and the national flag upheld by diehard fans. Football glories have mended fences, reconciling warring factions who would forget what hitherto put them apart as they unconsciously unite for the love of the game. A powerful social tool that must not be toyed with no matter what! 
Regrettably, the love Cameroonians have for the king sport and the attention given it by successive administrations of the country’s football body till date appears to be at variance.   Visibly, stakeholders are more interested in what national teams produce than how they are constituted. Interest is on immediate results. Meanwhile, good results in football can be likened to farm yields which are a function of the seed planted, the nature of the soil and the care given the crop to germinate, grow and bear. Like the World Football Governing Body, FIFA, aptly puts it, “Football can be described as a school of life through which valuable skills can be taught, such as teamwork, dedication, perseverance and healthy lifestyles.”
This justifies the youth football policy of the global football federation which focuses on youth training in order to harness the power of football to secure the future strength and success of the game. As a matter of fact, football analysts across the globe are almost unanimous that humans possess the ability to adapt, and football development programmes must also adapt in order to continue to deliver results and keep up with the changes in the game. It increasingly seems like football has been taken over by scientific research and analysis and once creativity is added at youth level, its development is almost guaranteed.  
This in other words entails planning to succeed or sowing today to reap tomorrow. Why then would Cameroonians love football this much and managers of the institution appear lukewarm about laying a solid foundation for its fruition tomorrow and thereafter? To say the least, youth football is an indispensable nursery for different national selections that still remains neglected or highly underdeveloped in the country. Why then leave this key nursery for national selections underdeveloped?  It pays to cultivate the culture and develop the football kindergarten badly needed by different national selections to guarantee sustainability.
Obviously, there are visible signs that the country’s youth are interested in the game of football. The number of football training academies in Cameroon tells the story better.  So much has been said about youth football in the country but a veritable championship where talent could be detected and groomed for the different selections is still a pipe dream. Why?
The current administration of the country’s football federation should take it as a major challenge and strive to succeed where others have failed. It suffices to materialise the long-drawn wish and players would come from across the country. There are private initiatives like Semences Olypiques that occasionally organises youth competitions whose leaf the football federation could borrow and take to the Subdivisions, Divisions, Regions and national levels. There is also the National Football Academy, ANAFOOT that has been detecting and grooming footballers for national and international championships. Created in 2014, ANAFOOT began the detection and training of young talents in 2017. So far, three detection exercises have already been carried out in three seasons notably the 2017-2018, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 seasons. Detection of kids was suspended in the 2020-2021 season due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is reported that ANAFOOT has trained six youths in the U17 national team and five girls were also selected in the national junior women’s team. Some of its trainees are even known to have gone international. Typical examples are Noh Nafeng, former intern at Manchester City who now plays for the national U17 team and also Doumba Marie Alice who had an internship with French Ligue 1 side, Paris Saint-Germaine and today plays for Apejes Mfou. Over 40 ANAFOOT trainees are said to be playing already.
A well-structured youth football league, for example, would serve as an opening for these players and others to further develop their talents and gain national and international recognit...



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