Chigoli Football Academy exports Malawi player product on academic scholarship in US

Lilongwe-based Chigoli Football Academy has sent its player, Zobran Elias, for an academic scholarship at Indian Mountain School in the US where he will also continue with his football playing career.

Elias, first product from Chigoli to be exported outside Malawi

He becomes the first player to graduate from Chigoli and be sent outside the country.

According to information from Chigoli Academy director George Maguire, Elias was welcomed by his host family and has settled well into American life.

“Since his arrival, he has had some amazing experiences such as watching New York City play in Yankee Stadium and being coached one on one with a former MLS player.

“Whilst at Yankee Stadium, New York City gave him a special half-time welcome on the big screen and following two weeks of acclimatizing, the hard work starts now with him enrolling at Indian Mountain School and starting to represent their soccer program,” Maguire said.

He said the Academy made a profile video of him playing and was sent to contacts in US who got interested.

“We then submitted his school reports and he had to take a number of entry tests and interviews to receive the scholarship.

“The school offers a world class curriculum at an international school level. He has aspiriations to become a neurologist so he will pursue medicine and the sciences.

“He will be playing in their schools 1st team. They have excellent facitilites and some great coaches to help develop his game. The structure of youth sport is very different in the US where top sporting players tend to graduate up through schools, colleges and universities entering the pro game through their draft system.

“In many ways this is better as education and sport go hand in hand. This is why at Chigoli Academy, we invest into private schooling for our players and have a big focus on education as well as football and character.”

He said the lad was spotted playing in Lilongwe and he then went through a trial process before being offered a place at the academy.

Maguire also said one of their female top scoring players, Lughano Nyondo, has enrolled at Bishop Mackenzie International School for two years.

“Following a very impressive year on the pitch and in the classroom last year, Lughano is stepping up to the challenge of adapting to international school life well.

“The aim is for her to access a US scholarship like Zobran in 2020, becoming our first female player to graduate from Chigoli.”

Operating at Bishop Mackenzie, the academy was born in 2014 and has made huge strides to nuture the country’s brightest football talents and three of its products performed superbly at this year’s COSAFA Under-17 tournament held in Mauritius.

The three, Francis Mtoso, Emmanuel Mitole and Lovemore Mbeta, were Chigoli’s first players to be selected for national team duty and they did not disappoint as they scored in their debut tournament.

Chigoli is nurturing young talent as well imparting academic education on the players, focussing on English and Maths which are taught by qualified teachers from Europe.

They also undergo character development sessions which are led by an experienced youth development specialist which ensure that all the players become well rounded individuals who are positive members of society.

Last year, Chigoli Academy hosted a group of 19 students from San Francisco, USA as part of its programme towards a global partnership with similar football academies.

Some of the American students who were part of the group marvelled at the experience they had here in Malawi, saying the trip was an eye opener and it left a lasting impression on them.

In its newsletter, Chigoli said the group had an amazing time in Malawi their interaction with their Malawian counterparts through training, matches, teaching and character development, as well as their tourist travels in this “stunningly beautiful country”.

One student Kayva said he was touched by the people he talked to and their attitudes towards life.

“Malawi is an incredible country and the people inspired me,” Kayva said on the newsletter. “It is interesting to see how content the locals are with the life they live even though they live in a very poor country.

“I see so much anger in America towards others about money and power, but [in Malawi], they are so friendly and appreciate their community. I loved talking to the Chigoli players about their futures and goals, and was glad to see that some had the same as me,” Kavya said.

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