BBC Sport football


Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 17:09 GMT, Sunday, 30 May 2010 18:09 UK

Footballisation pause

By Louise Redvers
BBC Sport, Luanda

Empty seats at the Angola v Malawi CHAN qualifier at the 11th November Stadium in Luanda
Empty seats at a recent Angola CHAN qualifier at the 11th November Stadium

Hosting the Africa Cup of Nations was about raising Angola's profile and banishing the ghosts of its long civil war.

It was also about boosting football in a country better known for its handball and basketball.

With an estimated one billion US dollars spent on constructing four new stadiums from scratch and rehabilitating over a dozen other training grounds, hopes were high.

But four months since the last tournament ball was kicked, there seems to be little sign of the "footballisation" agenda for schools and communities which was promised by Angolan Minister of Youth and Sport Gonçalves Muandumba.

There has also been no news forthcoming about the planned management strategy for the four stadiums in Luanda, Benguela, Cabinda and Lubango, which appear to still be run by the Chinese construction companies who built them.

Luanda's giant 50,000-seater 11th of November stadium for instance, has only been used a handful of times since the end of the Nations' Cup and it has struggled to attract crowds of more than 15 to 20,000.

Although the venue is impressive, many fans are put off by its location, 16 kilometres outside the city centre, a journey which can take two hours due to heavy traffic on bad roads.

Former Angola coach Luís Oliveira Gonçalves, who took the national side to their first World Cup in Germany in 2006, is concerned.

"The stadiums at this moment need a policy which allows that footballers, particularly youngsters, are able to use them," Gonçalves told the BBC African sports program Fast Track.

Youngsters playing at a community stadium in Sambizanga in Lunanda
The stadiums at this moment need a policy which allows that footballers, particularly youngsters, are able to use them

Former Angola coach Luís Oliveira Gonçalves

"Before these stadiums were built, many of us in the sporting community appealed to the ministry of Youth and Sports to ask that these stadiums did not become 'white elephants'.

"But today, they are 'white elephants' because they are not being used."

Raimundo Ricardo, director of the National Directorate of Sports at the Angolan Ministry of Youth and Sports, however gave assurances that plans were underway to manage the stadiums effectively.

He said: "The government is working on a document which will hand over the stadiums and the connected enterprises to public-private partnerships and news of this will be made public in the short term."

He added: This is a question of time. We're all in a hurry to resolve this, but this hurry has to be relative to the size of the task in hand to make sure things are done well.

"As you know, we built these stadiums in record time and we held the competition, so we are clearly organised people and shortly we will make an announcement."

In the densely-populated and poor Luanda neighbourhood of Sambizanga, young boys meet after school for a kick about inside a crumbling concrete stadium with a dirty sand pitch.

Lack of footballing resources
Kids often play their football on dirt pitches such as this

One local coach calling himself 'Zezino' said hosting CAN had definitely made people more enthusiastic about football but he said there was still a lack of facilities and support.

"Here in Sambizanga for instance we used to have six or seven pitches, now you can see, we only have two," he said.

"Many other municipalities only have one or two fields and there are also some without any pitches at all.

"What we need is more pitches and more support for training schemes."

One initiative which is supporting youth football is through Luanda-based Santos FC which has teamed up with Portugal's Sporting Lisbon to offer training for local coaches.

Justino Fernandes, president of Angola's Football Federation, praised the scheme and said the Federation has other similar projects planned, but when asked, would not give any more details to the BBC.

For now Angolans will just have to wait for all these promises to come true.

Print Sponsor

see also
Angola seeking future for stadia
01 Feb 10 |  Business
Inside Angola's 2010 stadiums
13 Sep 09 |  African
Angola 2010: Tragedy and triumph
01 Feb 10 |  African
Ghana 0-1 Egypt
31 Jan 10 |  African

related bbc links:

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites