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Skillnet Sports Management is the future of football

Fri, 29 Mar 2013 Source: Angela Asante

Why Skillnet Sports Management is the future of football and education in West Africa

Solidarity and education are two vital tools to help football combat criminality for the sake positive development. Such is the vision shared by Skillnet Sports Management and its partners.

Skillnet Sports Management is a scouting and event organization based in Ghana. It operates via two offices – one in Takoradi and another in the country’s capital, Accra. Each year, the company organizes three to four youth camps for talents in Ghana and other neighbouring countries to fulfil their dream of playing in Europe. Founded in 2007, Skillnet Sports Management is run by founder and C.E.O Raymond Akwasi Owusu Takyi and Head of Scout William Owusu Takyi.

Raymond and William are biological brothers who had childhood dreams of making it to the very top in world football. However, the lack of facilities to develop athletes in Ghana forced the two brothers to give up on their wish of making a living out of their favourite sport. Raymond and William decided to focus on studies. The former now works as an office administrator at Bennet & Bennet Consulting Limited. The younger brother, meanwhile, is a graphic and web designer at Williebrown Graphics.

With their passion for football still very much alive, Raymond and William created Skillnet Sports Management with the aim of offering the new generation what they could not get as youngsters: a route to become soccer stars.

“We are doing a humanitarian job [through Skillnet Sports Management]. This is our second job, our passion, our hobby. We don’t depend much on this to live. We don’t normally think about getting money from it, but rather helping others.” Raymond explained.

In January 2013, Skillnet Sports Management got in touch with Cristiano Cioni of SMI (Sport Managers International). This connection quickly produced fruits. By the end of February, the Ghanaian company was already broadcasting the good news that two FIFA Player Agents from Italy – Cristiano Cioni and Alessio Pili – would be at the Lizzy Sports Complex in Accra for a two-day event from March 24 to March 25, 2013.

With money taken from their personal funds, Raymond and William organized the event which successfully ended on Monday. Pleased by what he saw on his first ever scouting session in Africa, FIFA agent Alessio Pili declared:

“We’ve seen very good players who can play in the striking position. We’ve seen some good midfielders and central midfielders similar to [Ghana and Milan star] Sulley Muntari or [Ghana and Juventus star] Kwadwo Asamoah.

“The best thing that we’ve noticed here is that the players are very strong. They have a high level of resistance and good physical skills. Technically, they must improve but we trust that in two, three or four years, they will acquire technical characteristics.”

Building a platform for growth

The March event was meant for players ranging from 16 to 20 years of age.

“What I can tell young talents is that they should try to participate anytime they hear about an event conducted by Skillnet. It is a platform to exhibit their talent,” CEO Akwasi Owusu declared before making this example:

“Just three weeks ago, we had three players who participated in our event and trained with the Ghana U-20 squad in Spain.

“We also had someone from Madina with virtually no chance of travelling abroad. Within a year, he has made it to Europe and is now playing football and living a good life.”

As FIFA Player Agent Alessio Pilli confirmed, the average salary successful candidates can expect ranges between €1,000 and €4,000 with accommodation and food provided by the clubs. If these figures are far from equalling the fat pay checks of world football’s best paid athletes such as Wayne Rooney and Samuel Eto’o to name a few, they are at least bigger than what the average corporate professional earns in Ghana. Better still, earning over 1,000 euros with free accommodation every month would appear as nothing more than an unrealistic dream for a common teenager in the suburbs of the country. This, however, is possible thanks to scouting projects conducted by Skillnet Sports Management.

Skillnet Sports Management – a tool to combat criminality and poor education

Criminality in the world of soccer is a serious matter – one that involves doping, match fixing and another very common offense: fraud by fake agents. Countless stories emerging from Africa expose the sad route which victimizes many young players as scammers claim to be licensed player agents.

Often, the victims are illiterates who toil to raise sums of money demanded by disguised criminals. Skillnet Sports Management encourages aspiring footballers to have a good educational background aside what they do best on the field.

“As a footballer, you have to read and understand your contracts,” Raymond Owusu insisted.

“If you can’t read and write, you will fall in the hands of bad people. For example, you will sign a seven-year contract which you thought was a two-year contract because you were told so.”

However, this situation also affects desperate footballers from various ranks in society. So what are the clues to discern a genuine agent from a fake one? Alessio Pili revealed:

“In this world, there are many people who claim to be FIFA agents but the truth is that they don’t have their license. Footballers must check, first of all, if the name of the person they are dealing with is on the list of FIFA agents available on the official FIFA website.

“Secondly, footballers are not supposed to pay any fee to agents. Never. Fake agents tend to ask for money; they say they need it to introduce players to good agencies. But this is a lie.

“In other cases, there are also scouters that do not have their FIFA license but are good professional people who are in contact with FIFA agents.

“With genuine FIFA agents, there might be expenses to pay such as the cost of the trip for a trial. But only that.”

Reviving the message of education through football

Hence, scouting events like the one Skillnet Sports Management conducted in late March appear as lifetime opportunities to redeem less favoured youngsters to succeed in society – on the pitch like in the classroom. However, solidarity is needed for Skillnet Sports Management’s projects to pick up at a faster pace.

“My wish is that top companies will support us. Many schools in the U.S. want athletes and there are scholarship opportunities. We have good talents who can make it but this process can seem difficult with all the expenses needed to invite foreign schools. We will need corporate bodies to help us.”

Football reality shows for growing talents are a big success in Ghana and Africa. They are bolstered by big-name sponsors as participants crave stardom. However, Skillnet Sports Management CEO Raymond Owusu Takyi believes that the message of education through football gets lost in such widely followed television programs.

“I have a problem with those. They are very nice programs but they are killing talents. How can a young boy who is merely 18 get a car as a prize? What would he do with a car when he is supposed to be in school and learn? He is supposed to get a scholarship to go to a UK school, for example, in order to play and learn.

“Take example on players like Chelsea’s Juan Mata who is following university courses while excelling on the football field. Take a look at Arsene Wenger who is also in a different business aside football.

“This is exactly what we want to do: to combine football with education. We want youngsters to have their certificates as school students.”

Echoing comments made by Raymond Owusu Takyi, FIFA agent Alessio Pili of Italian-based agency Sports Managers International concluded with a personal advice:

“Players must trust Skillnet Sports Management because of its professionalism. Ghanaian football is going into a good direction with agencies like Skillnet because this kind of agencies is the future.”

Skillnet contact info:

P.O. Box AX 258, Takoradi-Ghana

Mobile: +233/54-545-3072

+233/26-683-1208

Fax: +233/31-202-3167

Email: misimusgh@yahoo..com

raymond@skillnetsportsghana.com

Sport Managers International contact info:

Email: info@sportmanagers.it

alessio@sportmanagers.it

Angela Asante contact info:

Mobile: +233/54-308-9059

Email: angie.asante@gmail.com / j-lah@live.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/angie.asante

Twitter: @AngieAsante

Source: Angela Asante