Former Cheetahs and Zimbabwe Sevens player, Gerald Sibanda believes African football has the potential to become greater than what it is now if they can try and incorporate some teachings from European teams. He is the founder and CEO of Athletes Sphere Management; a sports agency that formed a partnership with the reigning Copa Del Ray champions Real Betis. Sibanda used to play for several South African rugby teams before he hung his playing boots up for the corporate world.
Sibanda’s agency has bridged the gap for Zimbabwean footballers to play in Europe and he has admitted that Real Betis has helped immensely to improve the lives of young footballers.
He has stated that the partnership with Real Betis was about learning and developing the level of football and most importantly to create world class pathways for the dreams of African children that want to play football in Europe.
He has admitted that African football still has a long way to go to improve not only on the field of play but also commercially and he recommends that African teams should try and build partnership with European teams.
“African football must develop, African football needs a guideline, a copy and paste model from the biggest leagues and that obviously is in Europe. In Europe it is where you find the commercially strong football teams, football teams that are enjoying business when it comes to the game itself.
“We as Africa need to catch up and African football need to learn from Europe’s big leagues, to commercialise our leagues in Africa and to build business systems in order to engage with our communities in Africa, engage with the fans and to monetise our assets as clubs and national teams. We need to learn from the best and as I said Europe is the best now and I would like to see more African teams having some sort of partnerships with European clubs” he told ThisisFootball.Africa.
Cape Town Spurs, formally known as Ajax Cape Town has been a good example, as they were one of the first teams that formed an alliance with a European team that brought success to South African players in the past. We have seen several footballers who have gone to Europe through that stream. The likes of Steven Pienaar, Benni McCarthy, Thulani Serero and Daylon Classen to name a few have been beneficiaries of the partnership.