analysisBy Fred Vubem Toh
While laying the foundation stone for the construction of a head office for the national football association, FECAFOOT, the Minister of Sports and Physical Education, Adoum Garoua once more reiterated the need to develop youth football to serve as a nursery for the grooming of talents for the senior levels of the national team. This gives us the opportunity to turn our gaze on what is going on in the sector since the task to develop youth football begins at the grass roots through football training centres or academies.
It goes without saying that youth football like feminine football is treated with levity in Cameroon. Cacophony reigns in the sector as football has become the new Eldorado attracting people who want big and fast money; who put the profit making motive ahead of genuine interest in the development of football. It suffices for one to do some paperwork and obtain an authorisation from the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education without any prior verification about the curriculum offered, quality of trainers or whether the initiator has necessary infrastructure to carry out the enterprise.
At the level of Fecafoot, officials are more interested in receiving the dues for the registration of the centre, player licences and carrying out the electronic bracelet test which cost FCFA 15, 000. Having received the green light from football authorities, the promoter goes ahead to assemble a few children around the game of football, in the name of grooming future talents. There are no courses on how to develop the physical strength of the children, harmonising their talents around a game plan or tips on how to improve on one's technical aptitude. The only form of training is playing the game of football on an open ground every afternoon. There are no criteria for selection as was the case with a brewery company which used to organise "Coupe Top Tournaments" and only the best at the regional level were admitted to the training centre. This saw the emergence of talents such as Samuel Eto'o, Geremi Njitap, Wome, Olembe and Rigobert Song. Today admission is open to everybody and the progress of the player doesn't depend on talent but on his wealth, influence, and corruption.
Another impediment to the progress of youth football is the declaration of false ages of players. At times this is done with the complicity of the parents of the player and the authorities of the training centre, just to enable their protected ones qualify to play in a certain category or make a long career in football. However, the player ends up unable to be competitive after a short period of time and make a short career. The multiplicity of training centres render it difficult to make a complete inventory or organise a national championship.
However, all is not black with the football training centres as some are serious and have produced talented players who are highly coveted around the world today. There is the revelation of the Cameroon-Cape Verde encounter, Patrice Olinga who was groomed in Fundesport alongside Allan Nyom and four other players who are now with FC Barcelona training centre in Spain. There are other serious centres like Kadji, Njalla Quan, Yong, Coton Sport and Semences Olympique in Yaounde.