Youth coach and ex-Nkana defender Noel Phiri has saluted Chipolopolo striker Evans Kangwa for establishing Shamuel Soccer Academy in Lusaka.
The academy has junior teams ranging from under-8 to 17 with the main team competing in the FAZ Division 1 Lusaka Province.
In an interview with LT Sport, Phiri, who is Samuel Soccer Academy coach, said the promotion of grassroots football is key to advancing the sport in the country.
“At the academy we have under 8, 10, 12, 14 and 17 up to the main team that is in Division 1. Shamuel Academy is not an ordinary academy but an academy with a vision beyond talent. The vision of this team is to see young talented players reach the levels beyond expectations,” Phiri said.
“My brother and our President Evans Kangwa is making a route where we will be taking players to other teams in Zambia and outside. This is a route that should take players to places they desire in their careers,” he said.
Phiri emphasised the need to promote football at the lower level.
“Grassroots football is the one sustaining our game in Zambia. Like they say in Bemba ‘imiti ikula e mpanga’. Imagine a team with players on loan from other clubs, what happens when those players go back to their parent clubs? That is why we have this academy so that players can be graduating from one level to another,” he said.
Meanwhile, Phiri is relishing his new coaching career after hanging his boots recently.
The retired defender played for Nkana, Nkwazi and Napsa Stars.
“I never thought I will be in this journey of coaching this soon. I think God just changed by destine for me to lead these talented young people. Most people think that one can stop playing active football at a tender age because he is tired or because of age. Sometimes one can stop playing football at a tender age because of the vision one has and what God has for that person in future,” Phiri said.
Phiri won the FAZ Super Division title with Nkana in 2013 and played in the CAF Confederation Cup group stage a year later.