City schoolboy tipped to make dream move to French club PSG
A Nairobi schoolboy is a step away from joining the prestigious youth academy of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), one of the world’s top football clubs.
Amani Nzomo, 12, returned to Kenya last weekend from the French capital after impressing coaches at the PSG Youth Academy where he was invited for a two-week trial that involved at least 60 young footballers mostly from Europe.
Amani, who plays for Ligi Ndogo — a football club and academy based on Nairobi’s Ngong Road — is now awaiting final trials before the end of the year.
Apart from Amani, other young African players invited to the camp were his Ligi Ndogo clubmates Zein Mwakitawa and Benedict Mbalu.
Zein also impressed the coaches and was promised to be invited in future, while Benedict may not have attained the maximum points required this time but could also have an opportunity to attend the camp again.
BEST IN THE CAMP
According to the PSG Youth Academy assessment document seen by the Sunday Nation, Amani scored 192.6 points out of a possible 200, emerging the best in the camp and making it to the list of those being considered for admission.
“I am very excited about the outcome,” says the Year 7 student at Brookhouse School, Nairobi, during an interview at the Ligi Ndogo grounds.
The evaluation included team work, influence on the game, juggling, dribbling, passing, technique, attacking ability and physical tests among others.
“Fast and technical Amani is a tactical player on whom teammates can rely,” reads a comment by Victor Morales of the PSG Youth Academy coaching staff in an assessment written at the end of the Kenyan youngster’s first week at the camp.
The overall remarks were: “Despite his age, Amani is already a complete player. He must learn to save his energy … in order to be more efficient during the game.”
BUILD UP BODY SIZE
However, the coaches recommended that he needed to be put on a nutrition programme to build up his body size.
Started in 1974, the PSG Youth Academy is considered among the best in Europe and is segmented into various age groups. The schedule of the young footballers also includes normal schooling.
Most of the recruits are French nationals and many of them are eventually given professional contracts with PSG or other clubs.
Apart from France, the academy has branches in Brazil, Canada, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, India, Indonesia, Morocco and USA.
Amani was impressed by the facilities at the academy and believes that “most African boys can do even better than Europeans given an opportunity”.
He says it took time to get used to the weather but he enjoyed the food during his stay.
“It was very cold but we sometimes used to train in the indoors arena so the weather was not a problem. But the French food was good,” says the young footballer.
Should he join the PSG Youth Academy and eventually graduate to the senior team or other top clubs, Amani’s will be a rare case.
‘MY DREAM TEAM’
“PSG has been my dream team and I have always wanted to play for the club. I thank God that they have considered my potential. I hope I will succeed,” he says, adding that he hopes his success will be an inspiration to many young people.
If things go according to plan, Amani will have made a significant step to eventually join a club whose current players include superstars like Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani, Angela Di María, Blaise Matuidi and Thiago Motta among others. The illustrious roll of former players include Zlatan Ibrahimovic, George Weah, Claude Makelele, Jay Jay Okocha and Ronaldinho among others.
Amani says he enjoys playing in midfield because that is where the game is controlled.
“Without a solid midfield, good football is compromised. That’s why I like playing in midfield,” says the budding footballer, who joined Ligi Ndogo academy seven years ago at the age of five years.
Amani and his two colleagues were in France from April 1 to 15 before they flew to Italy for the Viesse Cup, where the Ligi Ndogo Under 13 team reached the quarter finals. Zein managed to score in a 3-2 win over Lazio.
Chris Amimo, the founder and chairman of the Ligi Ndogo, describes Amani as a special talent.
“He is among the top three talents I have seen at Ligi Ndogo for the 14 years that I have been at the helm as the founder,” says the sports administrator who is also in charge of the Football Kenya Federation Youth Development Committee.
Amani has also represented Ligi Ndogo in the Gothia international Cup in Sweden in 2015 and 2016 and the Viesse Cup in Italy.
“In all appearances, his presence has always been felt by both teammates and opponents,” says Amimo.
Amani is grateful to his parents, coaches at Ligi Ndogo and the Kenyan embassy in France for supporting him
“I believe without them, I wouldn’t be talking positive about my dream,” he says.
Amani’s father Raphael Nzomo, who says his son’s good academic performance has not been affected by involvement in football, is happy about his progress on the field.
“It will be a good opportunity for other young players if he is absorbed in the academy because scouts from France will pay more attention to Kenya.”
He is, however, faced with a tough decision if the boy is admitted to the top academy as there is a condition that the youngster has to move to France with one parent.
Zein’s father, Phil Mwakitawa, who accompanied the Kenyan boys to France, was impressed by the attention to detail.
“The coaches are detailed and take records for each lesson and these are reviewed weekly to assess development. Science is also applied to improve the players,” he says.