Ghana U-17 coach Paa Kwesi Fabin has spoken of how deception and the lure for quick money hurts emerging football talents from the country.
Scouts, the game’s recruitment experts, are travelling the length and breadth of the world to collect intelligence on the next football star. They are practically everywhere in Africa where football is the number one sport and youngsters playing ball is ever-increasing.
But while there is abundance of talent, not all of it falls into the right hands.
Ghana, a country that has a huge talent pool, is one such country struggling to hold on to their youngsters as scouts take them away at a young age, something U-17 coach Fabin believes is a major issue.
“We have abundance of talent in Ghana, like most of Africa. But the problem is most of them leave the country. Not everyone makes it big though.
“It’s important to get the right club, not many get that and they soon fizzle out,” said Fabin whose side has booked a quarterfinals date with Mali at the Fifa U-17 World Cup.
So is this an issue that can be stopped? “No. In our country football is a way out of poverty, if parents think their ward has a chance to progress in football, they support him to play,” Fabin added.
Not every move follows a legal path. Some youngsters and their families are conned by the scouts and when they land in Europe there is no trial waiting for them.
Sportswriter Ed Hawkins’ investigate book ‘The Lost Boys: Inside Football’s Slave Trade’ that was published in 2015, undercovers the under belly on dark side of football scouting network.
According to his book, boys from all over the world are sold a vision of being the next big thing but they soon discover they have been exploited. Only few of these young hopefuls actually make it to the academies.
To get his investigation going Hawkins, with the help of Oxford United, devised a fake company to find out how football trafficking works.
The book also reveals how scouts, agents and clubs disregard Fifa’s Article 19, a regulation that prohibits international transfers for those under-18.
Top clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona have faced Fifa wrath for disobeying that rule but while things are tightening up, the illegal trade is still rampant.
Sadly, Fabin and his counterparts from the African continent can’t do much about it.
Ghana next face Mali in Guwahati’s Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium at 1130GMT on Saturday.