RABAT, Morocco — Four Moroccan Ministers released a statement earlier this month announcing the government’s new initiative to improve youth and amateur soccer in the country. The officials revealed a three-year plan to deliver 135 million euros to develop regional training centers and create four new soccer academies. The contract will also renovate numerous stadiums across the country by replacing damaged grass fields with more durable turf surfaces.
This large investment was doled out with the belief that sports provide invaluable experiences that will translate into more meaningful citizenship. Sports like soccer teach children how to interact in a team setting and help solidify a direct correlation between hard work and tangible success in the minds of younger citizens.
However, this decision has not been met with universal praise. Critics believe the considerable amount of money should have been invested in infrastructure that would more directly impact the Moroccan economy. Although Morocco boasts one of the more impressive GDP and per capita income in Northern Africa, the country still suffers from 8.8 percent unemployment.
Other critics believe sports culture can instill violent behavior and encourage unnecessary rivalries among citizens. These naysayers also claim that this investment will narrow many young Moroccans perspective and ultimately provide a harmful distraction for young adults who should be more focused on schoolwork and professional development.
However, sociologist Hicham Chmichi has voiced his support for the new initiative, arguing that the lessons taught from sports are applicable and essential to the classroom and beyond.
“On the contrary, there must a huge range of sporting activities available, because sport teaches discipline and moral values. A young person who has realized his potential will not fall so easily into the hands of the obscurantists,” he told AllAfrica.
Despite the criticism, the investment will certainly provide a meaningful outlet for the rural youth. Rural citizens are often neglected by government policies because economic stimulus packages are typically unable to make an impact outside of cities. However, as Morocco invests, the newly boosted sports infrastructure will help connect people across the entire country.