First it was the sponsorship deals with breweries and the television rights deals, now East African football is set to enjoy even more growth and development as one of the world’s leading football institutions, FC Barcelona, is investing in the region. The club has announced plans to build a football and talent development academy in Rwanda which will be launched in December.
Built at the cost of $10 million, the academy is a big investment for Barcelona and is particularly helpful for the Rwandan football ecosystem as the East African country seeks to become an increasingly important player in the region. The club, current champions of European football after winning the UEFA Champions League last season, is widely regarded as a leading light in football and youth development and as such the news of their interest in talent development in Rwanda is a massive boost.
RG Football Academy will operate like the famous Barcelona youth academy, La Masia, which holds more than 300 players. La Masia is significant in the Catalan giants’ European success as well as the Spanish national team’s performances in the 2010 Fifa World Cup and also the 2008 and 2012 Euro Cups.
FC Barcelona ambassador, Luis Garcia, a former Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Liverpool star, said
“The RG Sports Academy will help in identifying and training the next generation of Rwandan players equipped with the philosophy of La Masia, which has nurtured the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Sergio Busquets and Lionel Messi in recent years,” said Garcia. “The only way to develop football in Rwanda and Africa at large is for people in the football sector to start working like we do in Spain on tactical, physical, psychological concepts,”
Activities at the RG Sports Academy kick off with the training of local coaches by Barcelona coaches. The training will be concluded by Johan Cruyff, a former Dutch professional player and manager who mostly recently managed the Catalonia football team.
If Rwandans need any indication of the kind of talent Barcelona’s youth development team can nurture, they simply need to take a look at a roll call of legendary stars such as Leo Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Pique, Valdes and Puyol, all of whom emerged from Barcelona’s famous La Masia. Hopefully Rwanda will soon be producing players of the Barcelona calibre.
Rwanda’s Minister of Sports and Culture, Ms Juliene Uwacu, thanked them for choosing Rwanda as one of the destinations to establish a high profile football academy. She stated that the Rwandan government was ready to provide land for the sports academy to be constructed.
“Soccer talent is all over the country. Government will certainly offer support towards promotion of football to facilitate a better livelihood among the youth,”
The academy will be launched with a charity match between FC Barcelona legends and Rwanda Select XI team on December 6 at Amahoro stadium.