Eswatini hope to show strides in talent identification and development

Eswatini are eager to show the progress made by the FIFA Talent Development Scheme (TDS) in the country when they debut at the CAF African Schools Football Championship | COSAFA Qualifiers, Zimbabwe 2023 from December 14-16.

The TDS has been introduced in Eswatini this year to help identify young footballers and set them on a sustainable development pathway to a career in the game. Although it has a long-term plan, it will be interesting to see what immediate results have been gained.

The Under-15 Boys’ and Girls’ teams that will take part in Harare are made up of a collection of schools, with the best of the talent on display at the national qualifier phase selected.

The Boys’ team will be coached by Sonnyboy Nkhoma, who has also been assistant coach at national Under-17 level, and the Girls’ by Thamie Dlamini.

“This competition is important for our team because it will present the players with an opportunity to be exposed to international participation at a tender age, thus serving as an inspiration and driver for the players to focus on their skills development to continually be a feature until they achieve their elite/professional status,” the Eswatini Football Association said in a statement.

“It is hoped that from this experience, the players will be able to learn about the contemporary demands and trends of international football at an early stage of their formative years towards being elite/top players, as they will be playing in a diverse environment.

“This will be a good test for them in terms of behaviour on and off the field of play, individual qualities, and game systems and tactical flexibility.

“Their level of adaptability and perseverance will also be enhanced. All these capabilities are essential in as far as development is concerned.”

The EFA hope that all of these programmes will make for the early identification of the country’s top talent, which can be nurtured for a long career in the senior men’s and women’s national teams.

“If the foundation is strong enough, everything takes care of itself, because everybody wants to sponsor a good product,” FIFA Technical Consultant Serame Letsoaka said at the launch of the TDS in March.

The draw for the 10-team CAF African Schools Football Championship | COSAFA Qualifier will be made in Harare ahead of the tournament.