Averia ploughs back to football community

By Michael Uugwanga

FORMER junior international player Ricardo Averia is a proud owner of Athletic Club Football Academy that currently plays in the MTC HopSol Youth Soccer League.

Last year, his U-9 team won the first edition of the MTC HopSol Youth Soccer League, while his U-11,U-13,U-15 and U-17 were runners-up in their respective age groups.

The U-10 came in third place in their age group.

Averia aged 47, played local football at Ramblers and Civics in the Namibia Premier League (NPL) before he went to play for Blackpool FC in the South African first division.

At junior level he played for Namibia at the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup U-17 and U-20 levels.

Averia has said that the football potential in the country motivated him to come up with a football academy.

He also said that he has greater plans for his academy this year and that is to gain status in the Khomas Second Division League.

“For the love of the game; the belief in the potential of Namibian football talent; and to give back to the game that has given me joy. We have about 180 players enrolled including our sponsored kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. We only have two girls currently enrolled, but we have initiated a girls’ programme for this year. We are also in the process of trying to enroll the U-19 players in an organised league. This is to keep them playing competitively and to bridge the gap between them and division football because not all the youngsters are physically and mentally ready for division football. This does not mean they must be discarded. Another thing again is that we are also in the process of trying to obtain second division status,” said Averia.

With local football in danger of another standstill amid an increase in Covid-19 infections, Averia is hoping for a bright year and can no longer wait to start off with his project. 

“Covid affected the kids more than the academy. Most of the players couldn’t understand why they couldn’t come to practice or participate in games. They missed the game as well as their friends and teammates. It had to have an effect psychologically. We overcame this by having online training and handing out football homework to the kids. Our aim next season is to catch up on all the developmental skills the players missed out on this year and bring them up to their age appropriate levels. The coaching team and I are already looking forward to next year,” Averia said in December.

MTC HopSol Youth Soccer League is a professionally organised youth development soccer programme in the country and it is owned by former Brave Warriors captain Collin Benjamin.

The league strives to uplift and better communities and individuals.

This programme is focused on developing young soccer players in the areas of sport, academics and social / community areas.

The MTC HopSol Youth Soccer League consists of seven age groups ranging from U-9,U-10,U-11,U-12,U-13,U-15 and U-17.