The White Nile, which travels north from Uganda, and the Blue Nile, with it's source in neighbouring Ethiopia, wind their way through Sudan until they merge in the city of Khartoum to become the world-famous Nile, the river that gives birth to civilisations. Thus, the nation's capital has long been the centre of Sudanese life and the provider of rich, fertile grounds to the people of the country. With the inauguration of the newly-constructed Sudan Football Association (SFA) Football Technical Academy, an impressive project funded by the FIFA GOAL Programme and FIFA Financial Assistance Programme, Khartoum is now cemented also as the heart of football activity in Africa's largest nation.
"The purpose of the construction of the Football Technical Academy is to provide a centre of education and training for all aspects of the game: coaching, refereeing, sports medicine, and of course sustained youth development, from grassroots on up to the national teams," explained SFA President Dr Kamal Shaddad during the inauguration ceremonies.
A centre of excellence
The SFA has bold aspirations and high expectations for its Football Technical Academy - when fully operational it is envisioned that the institution will be able to offer internationally-recognised diplomas in various sports-related disciplines, including ethics, medicine, psychology and more. In addition, similar to how the resources of the Nile benefit all of north-eastern Africa, the Football Technical Academy is planned to be not just a national academy, but a regional one that openly shares it's expertise with its neighbours and also provides special services to refugees.
"I am deeply impressed with what the SFA is doing for the good of the game," said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. "What they are creating here is far more than just an academy - they are building a centre of higher education, using the principles of solidarity and football as a school of life as the essential building blocks."
Government support for the project has been an essential factor in the realisation of the Academy, in particular the donation of the highly valuable central-Khartoum land where the new facilities stand. H.E. Field Commander Omar Hassan El Bashir, President of the Republic of Sudan, came to the celebration to join President Blatter in the ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the Academy, just weeks after signing the historic peace accord with the county's southern regions. He then presented the FIFA President with the blue sash of the Order of the Two Niles, a highly respected Sudanese honour.
With the SFA Football Technical Academy providing the springboard, Sudan, one of the continents oldest football associations, could be poised to challenge again for their great international triumphs: winning the African Cup of Nations in 1970 and qualifying for the FIFA U-17 World Championship Italy 1991.
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