LALIGA, the world-renowned Spanish football league, took a significant stride towards its commitment to Africa by hosting two exclusive events for corporate and media partners. The events, held on September 12th at The Venue in Morningside, Johannesburg, and on September 14th at the Young Blood Gallery in Cape Town, also served as the platform to introduce the newly appointed Managing Director for LALIGA Africa, Mr. Tresor Penku.
LALIGA has a rich history of nurturing football talent and building strong bonds with communities worldwide. The organization’s global grassroots program LALIGA Academy, which reached more than 200,000 young players and 25,000 coaches trained by 2023, has made a substantial impact on the African continent. Moreover, Initiatives such as Celta Vigo’s Academy in Evaton and Sebokeng, RCD Espanyol’s Academy in Johannesburg, Real Betis’ Academy in Harare, and the FC Barcelona Academy in Lusaka have been instrumental in nurturing local talent and fostering a love for football among African youth.
In February 2022, LALIGA achieved a milestone with over 640 projects led by 900 LALIGA coaches across nearly 50 countries, benefitting more than 200,000 players. The inaugural LALIGA Camps held in South Africa in 2021 and 2022 saw 300 young boys and girls participating alongside 70 coaches. In 2023, these camps are expected to expand, accommodating over 200 junior footballers.
Tresor Penku, the newly appointed Managing Director for LALIGA Africa, brings a wealth of corporate leadership experience to his role. His career spanning over a decade demonstrates his commitment to fostering positive change through sports and strengthening LALIGA’s presence across the African continent.
Speaking about his new role, Tresor Penku stated, “I am honored to lead LALIGA’s efforts in Africa. Our vision is to not only expand the reach of Spanish football but also to empower local communities through the beautiful game. We are committed to building strong bonds with our corporate partners, media, and industry stakeholders while nurturing grassroots talent.”
Natalie Barlow, Marketing & Commercial Manager at LALIGA SA, emphasized LALIGA’s dedication to forming strong commercial partnerships with media and stakeholders, saying, “Our collaboration with various partners is crucial in achieving our shared goals in Africa. We believe in the transformative power of football and its ability to drive positive change.”
LALIGA has several exciting projects planned for South Africa, including:
LALIGA has a series of exciting initiatives aimed at capturing the hearts of football enthusiasts across Africa. In our ongoing commitment to nurturing grassroots football, we’re expanding our LALIGA camps in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) with the introduction of a brand-new camp in Newcastle.
Our flagship player development program, LALIGA Academy Madrid, is now in its second year and has undergone significant growth in both size and diversity. Hosted at the ESC LALIGA & NBA Centre, the program has seen its player count nearly double to almost 80, along with the exciting addition of our first girls’ team. This year marks a milestone as we proudly introduce a girls’ team comprising 18 players from various countries, including Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Brazil, and Japan.
Eight talented female players from across Africa are part of this year’s intake, including two Nigerian players and one Tanzanian player who have already joined us on-site. We’re also thrilled to share that three Zambian players have secured their visas and will soon be heading to Madrid. Additionally, two South African players are eagerly awaiting visa confirmation and will be joining us in Spain on this incredible journey where they’ll balance their studies with world-class football education.
Nobahle, a 15-year-old right-footed striker, hails from Pietermaritzburg and currently plays for Dlala Ntombazane FC in the SASOL League. She is a student at Edendale Technical High School in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, and is known for her speed, agility, and coordination.
Joining her from South Africa is Sinazo Ntshota, a 17-year-old born on July 15, 2006. Sinazo plays for City Lads and has already represented South Africa in both under-17 and senior international matches, making her senior international debut for Banyana Banyana in the 2022 COSAFA Cup.
Around 20 full-season scholarships were granted to female players who stood out in trials and scouting during international under-17 competitions. These talented athletes will call the complex home until June 2024, pursuing academic studies at an international school while honing their football skills under the expert guidance of our top youth football coaches.
The creation of our female team was made possible thanks to generous funding from LALIGA and EA SPORTS, a part of EA SPORTS’ FC FUTURES initiative, dedicated to promoting community football worldwide. We’re immensely grateful to our partners, the South African Football Association (SAFA), Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA), and Hollywoodbets, for their invaluable contributions to this endeavor.
LALIGA remains steadfast in its mission to inspire, empower, and positively impact communities across Africa through the captivating sport of football. We invite you to join us on this thrilling journey as we continue to share the magic of football, both within the African continent and beyond.