Regional youth tournaments are healthy for football development

It is a good thing that the East and Central African region is fast beginning to appreciate age-old championships.

Most countries in the region have been lagging behind in their performance at the senior level and the reason has been lack of structures at the youth level.

Compared to other regions like West, South and North Africa, teams from East Africa continue to perform poorly in senior football competitions. West Africa, in particular, has had a good run in both junior and senior tournaments, with Nigeria and Ghana shining in the world under-20 tournament. Ghana also lifted the African under-17 tournament after beating Cameroon in the final in Rwanda.

Currently, only three teams (Sudan, Kenya and Rwanda) from the East and Central Africa region are involved in the 2010 World Cup/Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

This is why praise should go to the Council for East and Central Africa Football Association for hosting this year’s under-17 tournament in Sudan.

The high turn out is impressive and gives member countries an opportunity to build their senior teams from these youth sides. Hosts Sudan should also be praised for agreeing to sponsor all participating teams in the tournament.

Sudan has always supported football on the continent as one of the founder members of the Confederation of African Football and their new effort will help build regional football even further.

Other countries should emulate Sudan’s effort to develop the sport given that a lot can be achieved in the region through football.

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