By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi
Over 50 youth from across Africa are attending a soccer clinic run by the Manchester United Soccer Schools, in partnership with Airtel Africa, where they are expected to combine technical training with in-class sessions enforcing the importance of education, health and wellbeing.
A statement from Airtel Malawi released to the local media on the clinic described the atmosphere in the room where the youths gathered as ‘buzzing with excitement’ as head coach, Mathew Gregory, gave the kids an overview of the Club’s philosophy and the program for the week, while Manchester United anthems played in the background.
Airtel explains that the Clinic – which gives the top football talents from the Airtel Rising Stars tournament the opportunity to train with some of the best coaches from Manchester United Soccer Schools – will run for one week between the 27th to 31st August. It hosts talented youngsters from nine African countries where Airtel operates namely Burkina Faso, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania.
Andre Beyers, General Chief Marketing Officer for Airtel Africa, said this phase of Airtel Rising Stars is arguably one of the most important.
“It is through these clinics that we reinforce our commitment to not only nurture talent in Africa, but to develop it, too. We have a lot of great players on our continent and workshops like this give these players a chance to get take their talent to the next level and get a sense of how it feels to be a professional footballer,” explained Beyers.
During his opening remarks to the youth, Coach Gregory told the youths that they will learn how to “live, train and play the Manchester United way,” by going through seminars and coaching sessions that mimic those of the Club’s first team players.
Gregory further explained to the young African athletes that they would be treated as professional players, and in return, they must behave like professional players by playing special attention to their punctuality, discipline and commitment to the workshop.
Airtel says over the course of the week, Coach Gregory and his team of three professional coaches from the Manchester United Soccer Schools will take the budding young talents through a series of courses that address everything from dribbling, attacking and defense, to health and fitness requirements of being a professional player.
The coaches will also reinforce the importance for the youth to get a good education.
Airtel Rising Stars tournament is currently in its second year running and the current one concluded in a pan-African Championship Tournament last week during which the top boys and girls’ team from 15 participating market, faced each other for the grand prize of USD 10,000 to be used towards the players’ education.