Ascent Soccer Academy plans relationship with Mamelodi Sundowns

Founder of Lilongwe’s Ascent Soccer Academy’s (formerly known as Chigoli Academy), George Maguire travelled to South Africa over Easter weekend where he met management of one of Africa’s biggest clubs, Mamelodi Sundowns for a possible sister-club relationship.

A girls squad for Ascent

Maguire said the two parties have agreed in principle that Ascent shall provide two to four of their youthful players to go there for training placements toward the end of this year or early 2020.

“Mamelodi Sundowns have one of the best academies in Africa and it was great to spend time learning about the club and their philosophy with their Academy Director, Shawn Bishop,” Maguire said.

“It was inspiring to see the player development investment they have and the expansion of the women’s side of the game with the first ever professional women’s league set to start in South Africa in August.

“There is an increase in the number of female academy teams at the club and over time Ascent shall send a number of players, both male and female on training placements to the club and we look forward to working together in the future.”

Ascent were in Blantyre and Zomba in April for talent scouting in various townships and managed to identify 11 potentials that have been earmarked for national trials to be held in Lilongwe.

Maguire, who in February was honoured with Malawi Sport’s 2019 Non-Citizen of the Year award — in appreciation of his outstanding contributions to the development of sports in the country, said they assessed over 1,000 kids, who all portrayed immense talent.

Ascent’s scouting strategy is increasingly focused on identifying academic potential alongside elite soccer ability.

“Two extremely exciting young talents have already been signed for the Under-12 squad, with another four invited to the academy for trials. A further eight Under-14 players and three female players have been selected to come on trial,” he said.

One of Ascent’s products is Zobran Elias, who was plucked out and sent for a sport an academic scholarship at Indian Mountain School in Connecticut, USA last summer where he stood out as candidate in the highly competitive elite prep school admissions process.

Not only was he accepted to the Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut, but Zobran will also receive the Davis International Scholarship, awarded to “highly-motivated future leaders from around the world who will make the most of their educational experiences throughout their professional lives, giving back to help shape a better world.”

The scholarship will cover all of Zobran’s educational costs for his next three years at Taft, as he enriches lives in the classroom and develops his game at one of New England’s most dominant soccer programs.

Meanwhile, Ascent has made huge strides forward in developing their leased land at Lingadzi, in partnership with British charity, Building Malawi on the outskirts of Lilongwe.

“Thanks to an extended and plentiful rainy season over the past few months, Ascent Soccer’s base is now functional and will become fully operational this May. The site comprises two grass and two dirt pitches, classrooms, a thatched pavilion and an ablution block.

On the girls development, Maguire says with eight players in the squad and three more coming in on trial, Ascent is fully confident it will field a full female 11-a-side squad once 2019 scouting has concluded.

“New signing from Mzuzu, Jestina scored a hat-trick on her debut, during a 6-0 romp over Chisomo Academy last month.”

“Following 2018’s record-breaking Under-17 season, we are entering two squads into Lilongwe-based leagues this year. Firstly, the U17 squad from last year (now U17/18) will be the youngest squad in the First Capital Bank U20 league.

“Ascent looks forward to defending our U17 league title this year with our U16s, made up of a range of U15 and U16 players. Both leagues will prove a challenge to our players and provide much-needed competition to develop through.

“We will expand our self-administered league, in memory of Preston Hirten, once operational at our new base next month for our U14 and girls squad.”

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