Coach Fofo played for the Togolese national soccer team. He played professional soccer in Africa and Europe. Coach Agbegnigan Amouzou popularly known as “Fofo” is today an exporter of amazing football talents to Europe. He runs a soccer academy where these talents are discovered and groomed. The Podium Media spoke with him in White Oak, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.
Please tell us how grew up and eventually became a member of the Togolese national soccer team.
I grew up in Lome, the capital of Togo and as a young boy, the only thing we had for recreation was to play soccer. Over the years, I gradually became very involved and eventually got recruited by one of the big teams in Togo called Aiglons de Lome. I was very devoted and hardworking boy and in 1980 I joined the Togolese national team. My first international game was in Nigeria for the u-16 world cup qualifiers that we lost against Nigeria. We however qualified for the 1987 junior world cup in Chile and after the world cup; I relocated to continue my soccer career in France.
You run a soccer academy in the United States. When did you relocate to the United States and how long have you managed the academy?
I relocated to the United States in 1999 after I stopped playing as professional soccer player. On arrival in America, I saw the need for development of soccer in the society and trough my church I started getting the kids together for coaching. My efforts then transformed into the formation of a soccer academy which has been in operation for 19 years. A lot of kids who passed through the academy have already graduated from college.
What is the age category of your lads in the academy and what does the diversity look like?
Our soccer academy is named Elite Soccer Youth Development Academy (ESYDA). The age groups are from u-4 to u-18 categories. We also have two different types of level namely, the recreation and travel teams. Every category has two practice sessions plus Saturday game. We run four seasons in the year and the kids comprise of 55 percent Africans, 15 percent Spanish, and 15 percent Caribbean. Others are 20% Jews and 20% Asians, Koreans and Chinese.
How many of the players you nurtured have made it to the professional cadre?
As at today we have about 300 kids in our academy and they divided in two levels. So far, we have placed more than 5 kids in Switzerland and France.
What plans do you have to grow your academy further?
We work with most of the Montgomery county schools and people refer our academy to friends and families and we are popular in the community through our hard work, especially focus on youth development.
Coaches and football administrators, especially FIFA officials are being indicted for corruption. How can this situation be checked?
Today, it is always in the news that FIFA is very corrupt because we have lost the value of good soccer by putting too much money into the competitions. We need to go back to the source and revise the rules and make sure soccer remains soccer.
Any suggestions about what role the government and private sector should play in development of youth soccer, especially in Africa.
Africa needs to separate politics from sports and focus youth development. There is the need for African nations to also invest in the development of sports infrastructure and desist from bringing the coaches from Europe to manage our teams.
The Premier League and other foreign ones are extremely popular in Africa. What can we do to make our local leagues popular again?
We need to make sure that we also have decent leagues in Africa and endeavor to be as competitive as possible. In all aspects, African players have the talent to excel both locally and internationally, but we have to improve the administration of our local leagues.
Do you see an African team winning the World Cup soon?
Yes, African can win the world cup in the near future, if we change the way we do things. We can improve the structure of our soccer development by encouraging the evolvement of more soccer academies. The soccer academies are definitely a viable means of enhancing talent hunt and such players can go a long way to make their countries proud in the future. We also have to make sure that we add more values to the development of our players at all levels with good contracts locally and we will start winning the world cup. We have quality African players in action for top clubs around the world and all we need to do is harness these resources properly, and then shall get there. I��x��
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