The Wadi Degla group takes over management of LIERSE, a Second Division Belgian club experiencing serious financial difficulties. The Egyptian management wants to create an elite training structure in Belgium. Having already worked with JMG Football in similar ventures in Egypt and Ghana, they offer JMG Football the management of this new structure.
WADI DEGLA and JMG FOOTBALL sign a contract which officially showcases our arrival in Europe. This will be another adventure on a third continent, in a ninth country and our eighth Academy in operation.
February to May 2008
Several searches for players and assessments take place, mainly during school holidays.
Aruna DINDANE, the star of Anderlecht in its heyday, agrees to become the Mentor of this Academy.
In early June, about a hundred players across Belgium are invited to a day’s training. Another day’s training is organized at the end of that month, by the end of which 30 players are selected to attend the final trials scheduled in August.
The first final trials for this new Academy are scheduled from 11 to 14 August 2008 and are somewhat different as they are attended by Jean-March Guillou, Vincent Dufour, Olivier Guillou, Eric Decroix, Mustapha Kharoubi, in addition to Younes Zerdouk and his reliable assistant, Thomas Caers. Indeed, an in-house seminar is scheduled to follow the trials with all the Managers and Technical Directors in attendance. 33 players are present with 7 joining the Academy to form the initial core of players.
This first group begins its training under good conditions at the Sporta facilities and particularly useful is the heated tent for our training as our players are still playing barefoot, in accordance with the JMG Football method.
Meeting and training with Diabis, Ivory Coast First Selection “Académicien” and ex-Beveren player.
Second final trials take place under the leadership of Vincent Dufour to complete the first core of players. 14 players are invited to participate, 5 of whom are recruited to join the Academy and 2 others the following weeks.
The 14 “Académiciens” take their first vacation after 4 months of intense work alternating 4 hours of training and 4 hours of classes daily.
First Academy matches against the Local Saint Gilles Club, a team of indoor-pitch players ranked second in its championship (Junior). The matches are played in our heated tent using handball goal-posts, with 4 outfield players and 3 substitutes, in the form of a small 3-teams tournament, 2 of whom Academy teams. The results:-
• Academy JMG 1 vs Local St. Gilles 18 – 2
• Academy JMG 2 vs Local St. Gilles 15 – 3
• Academy JMG 1 vs Academy JMG 2 14 - 5
Following a match at the training centre of RC LENS, it is arranged for the youngsters to meet Aruna DINDALE. Our Mentor is delighted to show the youngsters around his Club and readily answers their many questions. They all leave with Aruna’s autographed photo.
Recruitment of 6 players following final trials.
After a month’s vacation, the “Académiciens” and staff are off to the USA for a tour which will prove to be rich in human and sports educational values. This tour will mark a turning point that will enhance everyday life at the Academy thanks to a better appreciation of others. The invitation by Mount Peasant Soccer Club, in Charleston, South Carolina, will remain a treasured memory for all concerned. Apart from the idyllic setting, the extremely warm welcome by the Americans helped us build long-term ties. Despite the holiday feeling surrounding the tour, the two daily training sessions were intense and the matches of high quality.
For this new season, the youngsters are delighted to find a new 50 X 60-metre tent, new classrooms and a large games / relaxation room.
7 players are noticed during these final trials and 4 will become “Académiciens”.
For the third final trials, 5 players out of 19 join the JMG Belgian Academy.
Last year’s visit to the USA is behind us and this year, there is a change of scenery with the discovery of Africa and the visit to the Bamako Academy. The youngsters will discover a different lifestyle and culture. The training sessions, the matches, the visits to villages on a memorable 670-km bus trek on their way to Mopti, the visit of a fabric-making factory, each of these experiences, rich in human values, will no-doubt enhance the lives of these young Europeans and show that material poverty is no obstacle to personal enrichment and growth.
With the number of players now at 27, a new set-up is formed comprising two separate training groups, which become two separate Selections.