Football: Inspiring Example From Senegal!

Senegal is arguably Africa’s football powerhouse at moment and could maintain that supremacy for the next couple of years. The country is leading the continent on almost all football fronts, at least in the male category for now. Successes in almost all categories mean the country boasts of talents who can progress through various selections and deliver results.
In effect, the West African country is sweeping almost all continental trophies and the structure of their different football selections suggests the glory days for Senegal’s football might just be beginning.  The latest of the trophies is in the U-17 category where they bagged gold in the just-ended Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria. Triumphing over another vibrant African side, Morocco, and more so coming from a goal down, speaks of a well-structured team with results-driven players who are led by a winning spirit and ready to deliver at all times. That the U-17 Teranga team lined up four players in the “Best XI of the TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations 2023 tournament,” as revealed by the Technical Study Group (TSG) of the competition in Algeria, attests to the team’s worth.
Senegal’s performances in the king sports have simply been spectacular in recent years. The country’s national football teams won five continental trophies in over a year – African Cup of Nations (AFCON 2021) in Cameroon, African Nations Championship (CHAN 2022) in Algeria, Beach Soccer AFCON in Mozambique and the  U-20 AFCON in Egypt. This places them at the esteemed and highly-revered position of reigning kings of African football! 
This outstanding performance is not by chance. There is neither luck nor magic in what Senegal’s football is living at moment. It’s simply an outcome of good planning at a given time. Leaders of the country at one point paused and asked what the future held for them in terms of football. They drew up a workable plan and got down to work. They certainly knew that good fruits take time to bear and so exercised some patience which is paying off now. The good seeds it sowed some years back are producing worthy fruits now and marvelling all.  
The country understood that participating in continental competitions should not simply be for leisure and pleasure. They came to the understanding that football, like any productive venture, needs a nursery in which detected talents are groomed and prepared for all national selections. It was not oblivious to them that the categorisation of national selections and the building of talents therein make room for multiple choices. Having a strong youth championship prepares players for all categories of the national teams. Putting in place a policy of evolution makes way for good players in the junior selections, for example, to sharpen their mental, tactical and technical skills as they graduate through senior categories. Once the same players move from the U-17 to U-20 and why not senior categories, their mind-sets are more or less the same and cohesion in play style is almost ascertained. The squad can be reinforced when and where need be with talented players who might have been detected elsewhere. This paves the way for a solid team where almost all have the same frame of mind and understand what it takes to attack and defend together. Here, team spirit is one!
Added to the proper functioning of all selections is the coordinated approach of all trainers. Senegal has invested much in the training of coaches and it’s but obvious that results follow. They work as one in the choice of players and the style of play that is flexible enough to stand any challenge. Once there is that fluid relationship between trainers under the supervision of the National Technical Director, players follow a logical upward movement in national selections. Talents are hardly wasted here and good follow up is made easier for posterity.  
Souleymane Diallo, teacher-researcher, responsible for football lessons at the National Higher Institute for Popular Education and Sport (INSEPS) at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, is quoted by “le journal 2L’afrique,” as saying that patience of the Senegalese Football Federation and the stability of the bench explain the country’s success in African football. 
The Senegalese experience is a good leaf to borrow. Good results in football are simply an output of careful, in-depth and visionary planning. Senegal’s example is really inspiring. Difficult therefore how some countries which aspire to reign in the continent’s football continue to either bask in past glories or do the same things they did and failed yesterday hoping to succeed today and tomorrow. This looks like expecting to harvest guavas where oranges were planted! Funny indeed! Refusing to plan or planning wrongly leads to failure! Football is evolving and any actor who continues in...



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