IT’S one of the most important developments in our football, in particular, and sport, in general — Spanish La Liga club, Real Betis, are coming here this year to launch the first Betis Academy in Africa.
The Spaniards, who have similar projects in the United States, Mexico and China), have chosen Harare as their preferred destination for the launch of the state-of-the-art football academy.
And, in making the big announcement on Thursday, they also added that this would be the first of a series of sports projects in Zimbabwe which Real Betis say they will launch in this country.
“China, Morocco, United States, Mexico, and now, Zimbabwe,’’ the La Liga club announced on their website yesterday.
“Real Betis and the Club’s Foundation reached an agreement with the Zimbabwean agency, Athletes Sphere Management (ASM), to launch a series of sports projects in the African country within the club’s strategic plan, looking to extend its brand and methodology throughout the world, while educating and transmitting the institution’s values through football.
“As an initial step, Real Betis and the Real Betis Foundation will start operating from October, together with ASM, the first Betis Academy on the African continent, specifically in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city, with the aim of developing grassroots football in the region by implementing the Club’s methodology, as long as the evolution of the pandemic allows it.’’
There is a reason for us to be excited.
The announcement of this huge sporting investment could not have come at a better time for this country given our country has been in the news, across the globe, for all the wrong reasons with its political detractors, not for the first time, revving up their campaign to soil its image.
We have seen the opposition political players, working in cahoots with their foreign handlers, going on the offensive to try and paint an incorrect picture that there is a huge crisis in Zimbabwe which urgently needs to be resolved by the intervention of outsiders.
They have been falsely claiming there are serious human rights abuses being carried out by the country’s authorities and flooding their social media handles with images, plucked from elsewhere, to give an impression things had broken down in Zimbabwe.
So dire is the situation in this country, they have been saying in their flurry of false narratives on Twitter, they have been falsely claiming the country has been placed on the agenda of the Sadc summit to be held next Monday.
But, as we have seen again and again, lies end up being exposed for what they are and the truth, at the end of the day, always prevails.
It’s very refreshing to note that, amid all this flurry of their gospel of negativity, we have others, like the leaders at Real Betis FC, who have chosen to look beyond the mirage of lies which these activists have been painting.
And, as the Spanish top-flight club announced on Thursday, they are going to invest into the future of Zimbabwean football by launching a state-of-the-art academy here.
And, their vision appears a perfect list of requirements that our national sport has been crying out for:
- Organisation and promotion of all kinds of sporting activities.
- Promotion of Academy and amateur football.
- Activities focused on the sports formation and technification for coaches and athletes, as well as managers and directors of sporting institutions.
- Research, studies and publications related with the objects and activities of the Foundation.
- Conservation, promotion, diffusion and assessment of the Real Betis Balompié historical, cultural and social patrimony.
- Management and use of the sporting facilities and equipment in which the activities will take place, whether they belong to Real Betis Balompié or any other public or private institution.
- Cooperation actions and promotion of sports in developing countries.
There is no doubt that there is huge potential in Zimbabwean football and that we are the only Southern African country, right now, who have a player featuring in the English Premiership, is testimony to that.
Even though the game here doesn’t have the kind of financial investment, which is the lifeblood of the sport elsewhere in the region, our productive nurseries have continued to produce some fantastic football players.
At the start of the English Premiership, in August 1992, we were the only African nation whose player, Peter Ndlovu, was in action and that helped open up the gates for scores of others, from the continent, to play in that league.
Former Warriors goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar won six league titles, and the European Cup, with Liverpool, during a lengthy stay at Anfield.
The leaders in La Liga must have been noticing, for some time now, that we might not be a country considered a powerhouse, when it comes to football on the continent, but we have always punched above our weight when it comes to producing quality footballers.
That is why Real Betis have come on board, to be our partners, in the production line of the next generation of quality footballers from this country.
It’s an area which our football leaders had neglected, for years now, with very little being poured into the game’s grassroots for it to produce as many players as it possibly can.
And, now, with this major incoming investment, things will change dramatically and Zimbabwe could become the jewel in the crown, in the identification, and development, of the region’s next generation of superstar footballers.
This is a huge development and we all should play our part to ensure that it turns into the success story that we all want it to become at the end of the day.