We have kindergartens and not academies

It is free-for-all to the extent that anyone can just wake up and declare that he has set up an academy and there is no-one to see whether he has the structures or the finances to run such a project.

A lot of stories have been flying around concerning the so many football academies which have sprung up all over the country.

In every suburb in the cities or towns and even in the rural areas, there is something that is called a football academy although these fall short of what a real academy should be.

It is free-for-all to the extent that anyone can just wake up and declare that he has set up an academy and there is no-one to see whether he has the structures or the finances to run such a project.

That is the reason why we have scandal after scandal and there is more happening in the suburbs only that they involve low key individuals and are nowhere closer to those involved in the ‘Juventus’ trials, the botched up Archierford Gutu trip, the Prince Edward Academy saga and the trending Agrippa Guti Dubai excursion.

We used to think and still believe that a football academy is a fully funded gathering of talented young footballers there to further both their football and their education.

These young footballers’ education is fully sponsored by the academy and they are also provided with the facilities and equipment to develop their football skills including being fully kitted as well.

What we know for sure is that these academies benefit financially when their products move to big clubs as is the case with what happens with the Asec Mimosas Academy in the Ivory Coast and the Ajax Academy in Amsterdam.

The famed Asec Mimosas Academy — which has exported many, among them Yaya Toure —survives and runs itself from the proceeds of the sell of its products in the Ivory Coast and abroad.

Sadly, though, what we see in Zimbabwe are gatherings of young footballers clad in all sorts of tattered clothing and lacking in football material to use despite the players being made to pay just to be part of these gatherings.

In fact, these gatherings have become more of money spinning ventures for a group of people who call themselves the owners of these academies.

Instead of sponsoring the players’ education and football development, the ‘academy owners’ are instead demanding payment from parents to help develop the young footballers’ talent.

Some of these so called academies do not even have training balls or have one or two and stand on one foot through donations, begging, and demanding payment from aspiring footballers.

What is disturbing is that these players are not even getting the right football guidance but are being exploited by the academy owners who are promising heaven on earth which they do not deliver while at the same time benefiting financially from the children.

One former footballer even jokingly said some of these academy owners do not even know the difference between a rugby and a football pitch yet claim that they have the future of the young footballers at heart.

What is even more disturbing is that there seems to be no rules or clear guidelines governing the existence of these academies or whether their projects are monitored at all.

Worse still is the question as to which association, organisation or ministry these academies should fall under because they are supposed - under normal conditions — to combine both football and education.

Whichever organisation these academies fall under, there should — surely — be guidelines or rules they should operate under or else we will continue to have these scandals and fraud cases every day.

We have had a few of them like the Aces Youth Academy which has produced some of Zimbabwe’s top footballers but they too might not be following the ideals of the academies in Europe or other parts of the world.

We surely need to be strict in licensing academies including demanding and inspecting the facility where the academy carries out its business, its facilities and equipment, as well as its financial capacity to carry out such a demanding job.

The registration of these academies should be restarted and those which do not meet the standards required be closed down and those that continue operating without approval be prosecuted.

Perhaps in that way, we will get the best out of our academies and more and more talent will emerge for both domestic consumption and overseas market.

At the moment, what we have in Zimbabwe are kindergartens, and not academies.

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