WASHINGTON German champion football club Bayern Munich has signed an agreement to open its first soccer school in Africa, locating it in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
FC Bayern Munich told VOA's Horn of Africa Service that it is inspired by the young football players and fans in Ethiopia, which is ranked 150th worldwide, according to the international soccer governing body, FIFA.
"Two-thirds of the Ethiopian population is younger than 25 years. We will support the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) in terms of young development and coaches education programs," Holger Quest, team leader of media operations at FC Bayern Munich, told VOA.
Last week, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soeder, other state officials and FC Bayern executive board members traveled to Addis Ababa to sign the agreement.
Soeder told Ethiopian media the agreement would bring Bavarian expertise in football to the sports-hungry nation of Ethiopia.
"That is a good basis for a promising partnership," he said.
The international FC Bayern Youth Cup tournament took place in Nigeria in 2018 and 2019. The success of the tournament led to the idea to give young athletes around the world a way to showcase their talents, and include those players from disadvantaged areas.
FC Bayern Munich has developed many world-class players in their academy, including Thomas Mueller, Mats Hummels and Toni Kroos Kolgers.
"We want to share our knowledge to help football grow across all continents and nations," FC Bayern media head Quest said.
Speaking to VOA Horn by telephone from Addis Ababa, EFF President Esayas Jira said Ethiopia would benefit from the coaching and training to be offered by FC Bayern.
The soccer school would accept 30-40 young athletes ages of 8-10, with their training costs covered by Bayern Munich, Jira said.
"The kids would have a chance to join Bayern Munich youth academy" once they successfully completed school training," he added.
In the agreement, Bayern Munich said it would also finance the school training and education. FC Bayern coaches would lead youth coaches to train local players in Addis Ababa starting May 3, Jira told VOA.
FC Bayern's club mission states their programs help equip children with the tools to play football, and combines FC Bayern strategy of football with the lessons of our philosophy and mentality, which typifies qualities like ambition, respect, 'fair play' and a strong team spirit that are beneficial both on and off the pitch."
Bayern Munich's football school provide young athletes three days of weekly training "to give youngsters a sense of what it is like to train like a professional football (player)," Jira said.
The FC Bayern club also hopes the new school increases exposure to the team in Africa.
When Bayern officials and Bavarian Prime Minister Soeder met with Ethiopia's first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde, to discuss the details of the agreement, they presented her with a Bayern Munich shirt with "Sahle-Work 1" on the back.
FC Bayern has also established football schools in China, Thailand, Japan, Singapore and the United States as well.
Source: Voice of America