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Libyan soccer academy hunts for next stars

Libyan soccer academy hunts for next stars

Libya

A Libyan soccer academy is searching for the next young football star in a country where sports have been dealt heavy setbacks due to political turmoil.

Al-Bedaya, Arabic for the beginning, is a football academy established in 2013 with the goal of finding young football talent in the Libyan city of Misrata.

The academy works on training young boys in football skills and tactics with the goal of eventually sending them to professional clubs.

The turnout is big and the parents are content with the role of the academy and how the youth reach professional clubs, even reaching the national teams.

Since it started out, the academy has delivered talent to many teams, with four players currently representing Libya in the national youth team.

The school was the first academy in Libya to focus on developing young football talent, according to manager, Gamal al-Maheeshy.

“The turnout is big and the parents are content with the role of the academy and how the youth reach professional clubs, even reaching the national teams,” he said.

The boys-only academy currently trains 450 students between the ages of 6 to 13 years.

After the children graduate from the academy, they are moved to professional clubs to train as part of the youth teams.

The academy is not for free but students who are unable to pay are still accepted.

For one parent whose son is enrolled in the academy, the services offered by the institute are very important for the country.

“This academy is taking a huge step in Libya. My son is obsessed with football and when he found out about this academy he got hooked. He would not sleep from the excitement,” Salah Abdel al-Aaly said.

As turmoil affects all aspects of Libyan life, sports have not been exempt with decisions to stop football games and FIFA imposing a ban on hosting international football matches in the strife-torn country.

Since disputed elections in 2014, Libya has been split between competing political and military factions in the west and east of the country.

The Tripoli government is rejected by its eastern-based rivals. Political turmoil and armed conflict have led to economic collapse, allowing migrant smugglers to flourish and giving space to Islamist militants.

Reuters

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