NAIROBI, May 2 – The last week few weeks have seen thrilling action from young boys of this country.With the Junior World Rugby Trophy and the Copa Coca Cola under 17 tournaments, Kenyans have been treated to edge of your seat sport by the teenagers.
The national under 20 rugby team outdid itself with a heroic comeback against USa and followed it up with 67-0 whitewash of the Cayman Islands, coming this close to making the final. (They only lost through a bonus point)
Collins Omae, Andrew Wanjala, Mathew Musali, and Ken Adola have lit up RFUEA grounds with Omae in particular looking like a replacement for Collins Injera in the sevens squad.
Add this to the production conveyor belt that is our high school competitions and you have an overflow of raw talent.
At Copa, 256 teams battled it out with intense ferocity with Nairobi emerging winners.
Players like Emmanuel Tostao, Daniel Mwaura, Yusuf Ali, Frederick Odhiambo were the toast of the month long competition and showed that talent runs in abundance.
Their big reward is a trip to South Africa for Copa Coca Coal Africa tournament in June as well as a chance of being selected to be ball boys during this year’s Confederations Cup
The aftermath of the success of these two tournaments however does raise a pertinent question, how do we nurture the talent discovered, harness it and ensure that they fulfil their potential?
Do our sports administrators have the wherewithal to watch and groom these youngsters?
Rugby for example is almost entirely concentrated in Nairobi with Nakuru the only strong club outside the capital’s hegemony. This means that players who have no access to Nairobi have more often than not give up the sport.
In Nakuru alone, so many youngsters turn up for training that the club could easily produce two top teams but simply cant because of lack of funds.
There therefore is need for the game to widen its scope at the top level to provide more teams to accommodate the burgeoning talent.
The situation is worse in football.
With no discernible football structure or youth academies, where will most of these kids end up?
Recently Kenya could not raise a team for the 2008 Olympics- an under 23 team at that.
While Football Kenya Limited officials have fallen over themselves in thanking Coca Cola, they still have no idea on how to capitalise on the talent search enabled by Copa.
That this country has goal project which is yet to be utilise din any sort of way speaks volumes about the football body’s plans.
Time and again Kenya seems unable to harness its young tyros often relying on nature and good luck.
Little wonder then that Dennis Oliech and Arnold Origi were the last youthful players to be assimilated into the national football team.
Or that the only club to consistently produce young players has been Mathare united which has a strong youth programme.
There therefore is a need for Kenyan sporting authorities to come up with proper structures of grooming potential players into the final product.
Unlike athletics where the focus of an individual or coach can harness a youngster, team sports require a proper development structure.
A proper structure like in Europe where there is under 12, 13, 15, 17, 19 and reserves to bring the players through the age groups.
Over to you FKL.