Kaizer Motaung Junior represented Kaizer Chiefs at the world renowned annual Aspire Academy Global Summit in London, England, which was held last week. It’s the world’s leading gathering in youth player development when it comes to football performance and science.
“It was amazing,” the former Amakhosi striker reflected on the conference. “There were representatives from about 50 clubs from all over the world. There were various speakers talking about different subjects and it was also an opportunity to exchange information and ideas with colleagues.”
The first Aspire Global Summit was held in Paris in 2014, followed by Berlin (2015) and Amsterdam (2016). This year it was held at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge Stadium.
Topics discussed included talent identification, strength methodology and how to better manage the gap from talented youngsters from the academy to the senior team level.
Kaizer Chiefs were at the summit as observers. It was for the first time that there were representatives present from Southern Africa. Mamelodi Sundowns were there as well.
Several internationally known coaches and former players were present, including Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson, Uefa Champions League winner Paulo Sousa and Chelsea and Real Madrid legend Claude Makélélé.
European clubs that sent representatives included Juventus, AS Roma, Inter Milan, Ajax Amsterdam, Feyenoord Rotterdam, Porto, Benfica, Liverpool Arsenal, Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Several clubs from, for example, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and South Korea were also in attentendence.
“One of the topics was how different clubs approach the transition from the development to the first team, also when it comes to the physical gap,” Motaung continues. “Another element of discussion of what is more important, the technical development of a player or how the individual behaves on- and off-the field.”
Some academies had their own philosophies based on club methodology and not on the identity of the first team coach, thus creating a club culture. Fascinating was also that one of the clubs mentioned that when their new young recruits arrived, they would observe how he talks, behaves and interacts at an individual level during lunch with his colleagues, even before they go onto the pitch.
Debated was as well the importance of highly intensive and competitive youth leagues for the youngsters to reach their full potential.
“Another topic of discussion was at what age a development player should start doing weight training,” Motaung adds. “Different clubs had different opinions about that, which was interesting to know.”
The 36-year-old former forward, who played for Chiefs from 2003 until 2014, is already looking forward to attending the Aspire Academy Global Academy Summit next year.
“You can never learn enough,” comments Motaung. “When you are in the same room as somebody from, for example, Barcelona’s academy, which has great structures, you know that you can pick up some valuable insight.
“The world of soccer is evolving and it’s important to learn about the latest methods to groom quality youth players. It’s now about implementing the knowledge gained. This visit will be a major boost for our vision going forward when it comes to our youth development.”
“We take youth development very serious at Kaizer Chiefs,” adds Marketing Director Jessica Motaung. “That’s why we were excited to have Kaizer representing the club at the Aspire Academy Global Summit.
“It has also allowed us to rekindle and continue our relationship with Aspire, which started in 2005 when their academy opened. I went to Qatar to attend the launch. We are proud to be one of the first African clubs to be invited to the prestigious annual Aspire Summit. We look forward to exchange ideas and be part of this project, which will help us to further improve our youth development structures.”