By John Tuerijama
FORMER Brave Warriors midfield stalwart, Collin Benjamin, has called on Namibia Premier League (NPL) clubs to attend matches of the recently-founded HopSol Youth Soccer League to scout for talent for their respective clubs.
Reflecting on the inaugural HopSol Youth Soccer League that kicked off at the weekend, in Windhoek, Benjamin said the two most senior age-groups of the league have demonstrated nothing but abundant talent that to be nurtured into stars. Benjamin, a co-founder of the youth league, called on the Premier League club coaches to attend the league as there are quite a number of players they can sign for their clubs.
“These young players can be beneficial to the Premier League clubs as the boys could basically be developed and can become better. I really urge the coaches to come around as there are fantastic players,” he said.
Although a number of NPL club officials and former players were seen at the different venues of the youth league on Friday and Saturday, only one NPL coach, Brian Isaacs of Tigers, made a turn at the games.
Though a lot of work needs to be done by the respective clubs and their coaches, the former Bundesliga player was more impressed with St. Joseph (Dobra) High School, who demonstrated intent to scoop the maiden title.
Asked which team caught his eye on the first weekend of the league, Benjamin singled out St Joseph High School, as the team that has impressed him thus far. “I know that St Joseph have in the past invested a lot in their soccer teams and have produced players who ply their trade in the premier league teams and went on to represent the country,” said Benjamin.
“This is really a platform for the coaches at whatever level be it in the First or Second divisions to attend these matches,” he said.
The former Civics player said despite Namibia’s COSAFA Senior and under-17 victories, the country has no physical under-17 leagues nor is there an active national under-20 league underway.
“As you rightfully know, we only call up players for national duties three to six weeks before the actual tournament, and it’s not that we select the very best because there are no structures in place to select the players from,” he emphasised. “These are players who need to grow and be nurtured for future international and regional competitions, including the Confederation of African Football (CAF) youth championships,” he said.
For Namibia to excel and for the HopSol Youth Soccer League to produce the required results, Benjamin called on the different coaches of the clubs and players in the HopSol League to take ownership by training very hard and concentrate on the championship at hand.
“Both parents and schools must embrace this opportunity and give the moral support that the young players need. I was very much impressed with the parents of the under-9 and 13 players who attended the matches.”
He said although some players were struggling technically there is still enough time for coaches and players to work on their shortcomings as the league progresses.
Benjamin has also offered to avail coaches to schools or teams that may be in need of such mentors. “Yes, technically and tactically there is room for improvement and yes if I am a club owner I sure will advise them to attend these games,” he said.
He called on the general public, family members of the young players to support the boys from different schools to also attend and support their respective schools.
The objective and the vision of the HopSol Soccer League, is to remove close to 1 000 kids off the streets, using football as a medium. Approximately 1 012 boys from 20 schools and clubs have signed up to participate in the HopSol league which has been hailed as the panacea to Namibia’s football woes. “It’s encouraging to note that the HopSol Youth Soccer League will create positive after- hours school activities to reduce the possible abuse of drugs and alcohol by scheduling night league games on Fridays and Saturdays,” said Benjamin.
Some of the schools and teams participating in the various age groups of the HopSol Youth League are: St Joseph, Academia, Jan Jonker, DSSW, SKW, Concordia, Eros Primary School, Mandume Primary School, Namutoni Primary School, Cosmos Primary School, VRK Academy, DTS and Ramblers.
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