They play faster with adults.
How Belgium uses Scandinavia to recruit jewels from Africa Nordic competitions continue to interest Belgian clubs. This summer, eight players moved from the Scandinavian championship (five came from Norway) to the Pro League. These include, among others, Hugo Vetlesen (Bruges), Jacob Ondrejika (Antwerp) and Mathias Rasmussen (Union).
Arnar Vidarsson, former Iceland coach, now Jong Gent’s coach and VRT analyst, prepares the ground: “First of all, you have to know that there is a big difference between the Nordic championships and the rest of Europe. Training is the key because it allows you to spend little to hope to resell players. For example, I started in the first FH team in the Icelandic D1 when I was only sixteen years old. When I arrived in Belgium (Editor’s note: Lokeren) at the age of nineteen, I already knew what adult football was, even if the level was not the same. This trend still continues today. Therefore, a young player is better equipped to be thrown in the deep end.”
Successes and great failures.
There were Orban, Boniface and Onuachu, but also Bundu and Sanneh.
Vidarsson cannot imagine that this trend is losing steam, given the great successes of many clubs. And this, both for the Scandinavians and for the African players who are successful in northern Europe. Scandinavian groups have been building a recruitment network in Africa for years. Belgium took advantage of it. “There were, among others, Simon Adingra (former Union), Gift Orban (Ghent) or Victor Boniface (former Union), explains Vidarsson. For Belgian clubs this is a crazy opportunity, because the cultural clash between Africa and Europe has already occurred. And it was often violent with the difficult climate of Scandinavia. If the player has managed to adapt, he will easily be able to move to Belgium.”
Is this a guarantee of success? “There is no such thing as zero risk,” says Vidarsson. But the same thing happens in other places.”
Scandinavian clubs are famous for their negotiating skills and for demanding a lot from their players. Several clubs paid the price. Let us think in particular of Anderlecht, which spent a total of eleven million to bring in Mustapha Bundu and Bubacarr Sanneh from Denmark. “Sometimes the gap between the best Belgian clubs and a league like the Danish one is too big for a player.”