Former LA Galaxy striker Israel Sesay is currently in Fiji hosting player development clinics.
He holding elite-pro, development, and experience with the International Youth Football Academy (IYFA) in Suva and Nadi.
Fast growing local supermarket chain, Extra is sponsoring the development and experience clinics.
Sesay, who is not new to such a program, arrived in the country last week and did not waste any time in getting involved with the IFYA.
“I’m impressed with the level of football knowledge and skills these young kids have,” Sesay told FijiLive after his first clinic session at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva.
“These children are aware of the basics of football such as exceptional ball control, passing accuracy, dribbling abilities, and shooting power which is an excellent development foundation of football.”
“For any children to start learning the basics of football at this age is not as tough as we think but it’s about how well they are taught and gauging them in the right direction.”
The 32-year-old shed light on the importance of growth in grassroots football for children at a young age in preparing them for domestic and global competitions.
“I have a similar academy back in the US and we have seen players getting through this program where they start training at an early age and we educate them on football and try to mold them to strengthen football and also develop the sport.”
“It’s very crucial for players to develop and at this age, they are able to absorb a lot and clinics as such revitalises their mindset as well.”
“It could be an extracurricular activity for most of them at the start but once they grasp the skills and strength, they take this opportunity to become a professional player for their country.”
“When skills are developed at a young age they can reach the maximum level in years to come. They also gain an inclusive understanding of diverse playing systems and strategies used by their opponents.”
The Sierra Leone-born American footballer had a remarkable career making his debut with the LA Galaxy in the US Major League Soccer at the age of 16 and played alongside the legendary David Beckham.
“My aim in this clinic is to focus on the technical and tactical understanding of the game. They will be taught how to transfer skills to pitches, how to technically create space on the pitch, how to manage time and opportunity and work on their decisions on when and whom to pass.”
“I hope to test their skills and how they associate themselves around the ball in the game and what their knowledge on playing according to the game plan and strategies being designated to them in the training.”
The Empire Strykers star in the Major Arena Soccer League who earlier came to Fiji in 2014 with USA in the FANCA Nations World Cup said he has seen a huge development in football.
“Previously when I came, there were mostly the players aged 22 to 30 in each team playing in the tournament. But now looking at the kids from this academy, I feel there has been a lot of development done.”
“Grassroots is where most of the talented footballers come from and I feel they should not be left waiting. They need to be developed and one of the ways I’m impressed how it’s done in Fiji is through this Academy.”
IFYA director Riyaz Ali said bringing such professional players to Fiji is not easy but they are fortunate to have Sesay’s experience in developing young talents.
“We have more than 200 children in our academy in Suva, Navua and Nadi and they will learn a lot from Sesay.”
“He’s here because he believes in development and his inclusion in the program has had a big impact since he turned professional at 16 and that’s a huge motivation for the kids here.”
“Our goal is to give kids the opportunity to start learning football at the earliest age to master their skills and strength. It doesn’t really matter what background you come from, there are opportunities that arise and you can turn professional.”