Selam Young Football Training Center is a place where young children can go to get well acquainted with football. The center that has been given an official permit by the Ethiopian Football Federation to operate currently works with 38 children aged from 5 to 15 years.
According to Morgana Angelo, the co-founder of the Center, children that are exposed to football at a young age will better focus on education, have high self-esteem and an overall wellness. Angelo who joined an Inter Milan camp at the age of 8 in Italy says he has experienced the importance of football for kids.
“One of the most important periods I would say was when I was 8 to 10 years old, I had gained such a huge experience, I got the opportunity to go play in Germany and France and so on. We used to do big games at that age and it has had a huge impact in my life. I have been involved in the football world ever since. This age in particular is very important for a football player because that’s when you can build a base,” he says.
Located at Gurd Shola inside the old Water Resources and Construction compound, the camp teaches the kids the techniques of football, how to work with people and how to support one another.
“We give the children a lot of attention. It is very important to listen to them and understand them. They learn discipline when they come to us. Many believe that spending time on sports like football for kids is a waste of time but that couldn’t be more wrong,” Angelo says. He underlines that the mental and physical benefits of playing football is immense and should be something that is considered by parents; it should go side by side with formal education.
Currently the camp is run through the finances of the founders, without any other external funding. “There is always a challenge with finance, we could get sponsorships, so that we would be able to expand our capacity, be able to buy more materials and so on, it would be beneficial for everyone. I am not, at this point interested in earning money off of this, I work on a voluntary basis. Before I can think of this as a for profit business, I want the society to be able to understand the importance of camps like this and exposing children to football,” Angelo added.
Before recruiting children, the Center first worked on creating awareness on the benefits of physical activities and football, targeting the parents first. “These are young children that are under the care of parents, so we wanted to convince then parents first; for the to see this as an important investment into their kids’ lives,” Angelo says.
Currently, because of financial constraints, some of the children that are able to afford the fee, pay to attend the center’s program while those that cannot afford it are subsidized by the center. “We hope to reach as many children as possible. With the current children that are attending the camp, I can already see the change in their character, skill and ability to interact with each other. They have been able to create a family with each other basically. Seeing them grow in that way gives me a real satisfaction,” Angelo adds.
The training center is always open to taking on more children and interested parents can directly go to the center to get more information.