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Ricardo Mannetti Lobbies For Youth Football

Namibia's coach Ricardo Mannetti speaks to his players during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Group D football match between South Africa and Namibia.
With a cohesive football model in place, Namibia can avoid waiting every 10 years to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations, says ex-Brave Warriors head coach Ricardo Mannetti. Such a model requires that every aspect of football receives support in equal measure, he says. Mannetti will make a case for youth football coaching at a seminar organised by the Hopsol Youth Soccer League in Windhoek on Saturday.

Former under-20 international Garren Smith, who obtained his honours in biokinetics and a BA in sports science at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, will also be part of the line-up at the ACFA field in Pionierspark. The primary aim of the workshop is to promote grassroots coaching, an aspect of the game which receives little to no recognition in Namibia.

“Youth football coaches are more important than we give them credit for. They have the passion but don't get enough support. Our country's future Warriors are in their hands,” Mannetti says. “People need to understand that a youth football coach is just as important, if not more so, as an NPL [Namibia Premier League] coach or Brave Warriors coach” he says. “While at senior level you focus on team management, a youth coach is all in one. They fill all the roles from parent to tactician for all players,” he says.

Arguably the most successful Brave Warriors coach, Mannetti says the continued neglect and poor investment in the lower leagues and non-league structures are holding the country's football back.
“Development means everyone who can contribute must contribute. This means you equip everyone involved in the game. That's what's happening on Saturday,” the coach who led the Brave Warriors to the Cosafa Cup title in 2015 says.

He graduated with the spine of that winning team from the youth national sides. The same group qualified for the 2018 African Nations Championships and 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Both qualifications came 10 years after Namibia last featured at the Afcon. “I laughed, I cried and suffered with those boys for years. You need a sound basis in order to build,” he said. Mannetti benefited from such moulding as a player in the 90s, going on to be the midfield fulcrum of Namibia's memorable first continental finals appearance at Afcon 98' in Burkina Faso.

“There is an urgent need to balance our focus. We cannot just concentrate on the NPL,” Mannetti says. Saturday's workshop will cover topics like competition and fundamentals in training for the season and competitions, the coach as a role model and mentor, tactics and transition from nine versus nine (u12) to 11v11 (u13), and administration and logistics.

“The world came to a standstill because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our lives have been disrupted and we don't know if it's ever going to be the same again. We, however, want to remain positive and as such we have decided to host a workshop where the coaches in the Hopsol YSL can come together, interact and share ideas,” Hopsol YSL founder Collin Benjamin says.
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