Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter

SPANISH football club, Real Betis and the club’s foundation have reached an agreement with Zimbabwean agency Athletes Sphere Management (ASM) to launch a series of sports projects in the Southern African country within the club’s strategic plan looking to extend its brand and line of attack throughout the world, while educating and transmitting the institution’s values through football.

Real Betis announced on Thursday that they had gotten into an arrangement with ASM, whose founder and chief executive officer is former Zimbabwe rugby international player, Gerald Sibanda. The Spanish club’s first ever academy on the African academy will become operational in October.

“As an initial step, Real Betis and the Real Betis Foundation will start operating from October, together with ASM, the first Betis Academy on the African continent, specifically in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city, with the aim of developing grassroots football on the region by implementing the Club’s methodology, as long as the evolution of the pandemic allows it,’’ read part of the Real Betis statement.

Real Betis and the club’s foundation have been working for years with the youngest footballers in Seville through its local academy and have been developing over the last seasons an expansion plan, materialized with the launch of several sports programs all around the globe.

“Real Betis is one of the most historical football clubs in Spain and, without a doubt, one of the most beloved ones. Not only because of that historical character, but also because of its idiosyncrasy and values, its unshakable faith, its ability to excel and the joy of its people. And those values are precisely what we try to transfer in all our international projects: educating from football, transmitting all the values that surround the Betis brand and doing it with the same methodology that we use within our youth teams”, declared Ramón Alarcón, Real Betis’ general director of business.

Rafael Muela, general manager of the Real Betis foundation, spoke about the importance of promoting this kind of projects from a sporting point of view, but also from a social perspective, especially in the days that we are living today: “In this exceptional situation, agreements like this one make us especially excited and fill us with optimism, since they show that both the Real Betis Balompie Foundation and its partners around the world, keep moving so that the youngest population can keep enjoying football”.

Sibanda is exceedingly pleased to secure the global partnership which brings world class opportunities to youngsters in Zimbabwe.

“I am extremely happy for this global partnership, bringing world class community opportunities to Zimbabwe. From ASM, we are looking forward to help growing Real Betis Balompie’s brand in the region and seeing great football projects being birthed through this partnership. It is with great honour and I am so pleased to lead the new Betis Academy Zimbabwe. My blood is now green and white,” Sibanda said.

On behalf of La Liga, Marcos Pelegín, managing director for Southern Africa, stated: “One of La Liga’s most important stated objectives is to support football growth around the world. We are really excited for Real Betis and for the young Zimbabwean football players that will enroll in this program. Seeing how one of our Spanish clubs enlarge their presence in Africa is great news for everyone. We are looking forward to collaborating with the Academy in future projects”.

ASM is a world class sports management company based in Zimbabwe with global business networks within Africa, Europe and the rest of the world. ASM represent various stakeholders in the world of sports including coaches and professional athletes across the sports spectrum. Key partnerships and synergies with worldwide sporting institutions have been established, creating business and commercial opportunities, grassroots development programs in key sporting codes including football, rugby or boxing among others.

@Mdawini_29