DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, Dec 10– South Africa will this coming(Southern hemisphere) summer join the ranks of countries where the Liverpool International Football Academy has been set up, with more than 800 young boys and girls pass through the programme in its debut season.
Based in Durban, the aim is for young aspiring footballers to train under the watchful eyes of some of the top coaches from Liverpool FC, the English Premier League side which is one of the most well supported teams with fans around the world. The camps will be moving to Johannesburg and Cape Town early next year.
Head Coach of the Liverpool Football Club International Academy Ray Curtis said here Tuesday that the camps wanted to develop aspiring footballers both on and off the field.
“It’s about behaviour and not just technical ability on the pitch but also to behave as young people off the pitch also and that’s what we feel is very particular to our club. We look for an all-round person and not just a talented footballer,” he added.
“What we want them to do is come here and enjoy themselves. Yes we want to improve certain aspects but most of all we want them to have fun to come into football and choose football over other sports and then if they progress through the age groups eventually go to the academy then that’ll be a fantastic result for everyone.”
The camps also have specialised sessions where young fans can attempt to master the striking ability of a Daniel Sturridge, the speed of Raheem Sterling, or the mastery behind a Steven Gerrard penalty.
Curtis said the academy would work alongside local authorities to feed into soccer development initiatives already underway in the city.
“We just believe that we have really good technical expertise that has worked for us back home. We have a record back home with producing young talent through our academy system, you know with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling.” he said.
“In the past obviously there were Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen, so our programme works back home and if we can introduce that here (and) work alongside the local coaches and football associations, work alongside them to develop any programme that’s going on in South Africa.”
The Managing Director of the camp’s current base at Hoy Park in Durban, Carlos Catalina, said one of the most important aspects of the philosophy behind the camp, is young people of all races coming together in the name of sport.
“The camps are an introduction and then we have a twelve month programme, the most important part here is that what Liverpool and the main academy are going to achieve is that we have full social cohesion. Here we’ve got all the races here represented and we have a true South African team out there that’s for everyone and this is what we aim to do.”
Plans are underway for a year-round after school training programme to start early next year to give young soccer stars technical guidance with a holistic approach to life on and off the pitch.