Wednesday,13 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1240, (2 - 8 April 2015)
Wednesday,13 December, 2017
Issue 1240, (2 - 8 April 2015)

Ahram Weekly

La Liga in Egypt

Negoum Al-Mostakbal football club connects with one of the world’s greatest football leagues for the next five years, reports Mohamed Abdel-Razek

Negoum
Negoum
Al-Ahram Weekly

The Egyptian football club Negoum Al-Mostakbal has taken a big step towards professional top class football. Without any improvisation, club officials decided to call in Spanish experts, one of the most cutting edge experiences in the professional world of football – in the form of Liga Nacional de Futbol Professional, more commonly known as La Liga.


 

The affiliation between Negoum Al-Mostakbal, established 2007, and the Spanish league is intended to enhance the strategies of coaching and scouting within the ambitious club, as well as converting the whole club community, especially its players, to the true life of professional football, an approach that will hopefully open the door for many Egyptian youngsters to play abroad at the highest levels.

Twelve years ago, local schools had football leagues all across Egypt. The idea was the brainchild of Mohamed Al-Tawila, and it turned out to be a success. Year after year of hunting talent from 7,500 schools across Egypt, Al-Tawila was left with hundreds of youngsters who forced him to dream big. Al-Tawila believed it was worth the risk, and decided to give his talented players a shot to show their qualities.

In 2007, Negoum Al-Mostakbal football club was established with a training ground in 6th of October City and a bunch of eager players. The club took off from the fourth division, reaching the first division in just six years. Throughout those years, the club’s officials led by Al-Tawila worked on lifting their players’ standards, doing so far from the Egyptian method, by going to camps in Europe where they played against world renowned teams like Manchester United.

Domestically, they also made sure to play friendly matches with big clubs like Ahly and Zamalek from time to time. The club helped their players by applying a professional lifestyle as the standard to make sure they reach their goals as quickly as possible.

Such out of the ordinary strategy by the club quickly paid dividends. “What makes our team different from other teams out there is that we require skill and talent as a standard for each player on the team, even for the defenders,” said team captain Nader Mohamed.

The club is credited with spotting one of Egypt’s best current players, Mohamed Salah, who plays for Fiorentina on loan from Chelsea. The club also brought up Zamalek and Egypt’s No 1 goalkeeper Ahmed Al-Shenawi, and Ahmed Hassan “Koka” who plays for Rio Ave in Portugal, and many others who are supplying the Egyptian national team.

The club is close to being promoted to the Egyptian Premier League next season. “Negoum Al-Mostakbal gets all the credit bringing me up to be a professional footballer before I went to Al-Masri and then to my current club Zamalek”, Al-Shenawi told Al-Ahram Weekly.   

After the club’s philosophy to enhance Egyptian football proved effective, the Ministry of Education, along with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Egyptian Football Association, became determined to support Negoum Al-Mostakbal, starting from its school league and academy to the first team. This encouraged one of the best football leagues in the world to take part in the plan, the Spanish league or La Liga, which contains the top two clubs in the FIFA world rankings, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Represented by former Real Madrid player Fernando Sanz, La Liga believed that Egypt has got the potential that needs to be taken care of and that is was up to the challenge. Accordingly, Sanz signed a five-year contract with Negoum Al-Mostakbal to import the finest Spanish experience in football to Egypt. The affiliation will include intensive training for the club’s scouts and coaches for them to be able to spot and train the best Egyptian talents who would hopefully be able to play in the top leagues abroad.

“This affiliation with Negoum Al-Mostakbal will form a bridge between Spain and Egypt that will surely benefit Egyptian football in the future,” added Sanz.   

Spanish football has been dominating Europe in the past decade. The Spanish national team won the World Cup in 2010 and the last two editions of the European Championship. Adding to this haul, Spanish clubs have 40 European titles in their trophy cabinets.

“It is a dramatic jump forward for us signing this contract with La Liga which will put the perfect professional standards for our players,” said Al-Tawila.

The contract was signed in an eye-boggling ceremony which took place in the club’s headquarters in 6th of October, attended by a massive crowd of sports celebrities and officials, including Shawki Gharieb, former Egypt national team manager, Gamal Allam, president of the Egyptian FA, and a few international football players.

“It is a very good step forward for Egyptian football to benefit from the Spanish experience, and I hope that officials in Egypt support private entities to increase such projects,” said Gharieb.

The unique approach should mark the start of academically planned strategies to run Egyptian sports in general. Knowledge and being qualified -- that should be the basis upon which all Egyptian sports operate.

Being a former player, even a star, in a specific sport doesn’t necessarily make you the right man for the job.


The writer is a freelance journalist

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