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Football scouts search for talent in DR Congo's turbulent east

European soccer scouts and local authorities award a medal to the top scorer at the Future Pro League soccer tournament in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo   -  
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ALEXIS HUGUET/AFP or licensors

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Following a four-day tournament in the city Goma in the DRC, which is a rarity for the region with a legacy of regional wars -- a young footballer has emerged victorious. It was attended by international scouts.

For Salumu, "when a scout leaves Europe to come to Goma, you have to give it your all to have a chance of being selected."

Accoding to Cédric Balingene Salumu, DC Virunga captain:

"My goal is to be a professional first. I dream of one day going to play in Europe, even in Asia, that's my first objective, and when people start giving us opportunities like this, it's a very good thing for us."

Alexis Isese Chuma, the young footballer who emerged victorious , adds that playing before talent spotters "is an opportunity that doesn't come along twice in a lifetime".

"I'm proud of myself, and the medal and cup are just a reward for my efforts. It was a dream and now it's come true. We still hope to do a lot more, because this is my career I'm building, and I have even more to give. This isn't the end, there will be other competitions and I've got to work to keep up with them," he added.

Kasuku launched his football academy eight years ago in a bid to support young sporting talent.

Despite the strife, the founder of Goma's GOAL Football Acade my, Ugo Kasuku, organised a tournament this month and invited three European football scouts.

"A huge number of young people have been seen and have put in great performances. Some of them have been selected, and I think we're about to start extending this great story by taking steps to enable these youngsters to try out... well, to try their luck abroad. Some clubs have clearly shown an interest, and that's a great success."

Aside from promoting talents, Distel Zola, former Congolese international and AS Monaco representative, said it was important to promote "peace and joy" as well as "demonstrate the beauty" of the region that has been devastated by violence.

"With Monaco, it's all about opening up to Africa, detecting the best talent, so as to give them the opportunity to come to Monaco one day, because they (Monaco, ed.) have a lot of openings in South America, but today with me here, it's about creating breakthroughs with Africa."

And just to show that, contrary to what Alexis Chuma says, maybe this opportunity does come along twice in a lifetime, Varley said Gent would return for the next edition of the tournament, perhaps to unearth the next great African footballer.

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