YOUTH sports academies are very important if we are to have good national team players, says Zesco Victoria Falls FC head coach Alfred Lupiya.
And Lusaka Youth Sports Academy on Monday held Zesco Victoria Falls FC to a 0-0 draw.
In an interview on Tuesday after the game, Lupiya said coaches of junior national teams at various levels need to be highly qualified and be able to appreciate football academies in the country.
“Maybe in Zambia we don’t think academies are very important, but it is the grassroots that we need to be very cautious about,” he said.
“I don’t know what happens, but we need highly technical coaches handling the Under 20 and other levels. These academies are a very important group of people. Young talent is what we need to work on and if we work on the grassroots then we can have a very good national team,” Lupiya said.
He said the Lusaka Youth Sports Academy was what made him what he is today as it facilitated his EUFA B coaching course in Spain for a year and eight months.
Former City of Lusaka and National Assembly FC player Mazuba Mkandawire, who is Lusaka Youth Sports Academy coach, said the 33 U-19 lads were in Livingstone for a five-day soccer camp where they would be assessed on fitness.
He said the soccer camp would also help the youthful players to bond together as they have been separated for a long time due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“We also want to expose the boys to high, extensive training and also play some games with Livingstone based teams. Yesterday (Monday) we played Zesco Victoria Falls FC main team and today (Tuesday) we play their academy. We have also played Zanaco, Nkwazi, City of Lusaka and other senior teams before,” Mkandawire said.
He said talent among the boys in the academy, created in 2001 by Linas Kaputa, looks very bright.
Mkandawire said his technical bench emphasises on discipline as a major drive for the boys’ success in football.
He named Zesco United’s Solomon Sakala, Red Arrows Paul Katema as those that graduated from the academy.
Mkandawire added that a lot others were playing football in Europe such as Mana Chiwesha, who is in Italy.
He indicated that the academy has several boys from the age of six to 19.