NAIROBI, Kenya, August 22- Ten Kenyan budding footballers will be among the 150 from 15 African countries that will receive tutelage from English Premiership side Chelsea coaches in South Africa later this month.
The up-coming talent were picked during the recently concluded Copa-Coca Cola Youth finals in Mombasa and will join the 12-day camp in Pretoria.
“The partnership between us and Chelsea began in 2011 and was built on the strength of the club’s heritage in growing African talent.
“When you think of the club, you reflect of the great African football stars such as Obi Mikel from Nigeria and Michael Essien from Ghana, which shows that the club’s strength lies in its diversity,” Coca-Colas Franchise Marketing Manager Africa Jorsen Patten told a press briefing on Wednesday.
Gideon Ongweno, a promising goalkeeper from Migori Boys was elated with the development and felt that the exposure will give him the opportunity to make it big in the international scene as he looks to emulate his hero, the national team custodian Arnold Origi.
“I would like to change the fact that many people don’t see this country as one where good keepers can make it in the international arena.
“It was not easy going through the selection since competition was stiff but this camp will give me the edge in my quest to break into the big leagues,” added Ongweno who was inspired by his late father, Tom Ogweno who was a former player at Tusker FC.
Midfielder Christopher Oruchum who is also on the traveling party was upbeat about moving closer to his dream to play alongside his role model and Chelsea defender David Luiz.
“I’m happy to be part of this camp where we get to interact with other talents from Africa and get training from the Chelsea coaches.
“It’s a chance to prove that we can also bring out more players from our country into the global scene and follow in the footsteps of Mariga, who was in our position a few years ago,” said the 16-year-old from Chavakali High school.
Last year 98 players from 10 countries traveled to London where they were trained in Cobham, one of the world’s finest football training centers where they not only polished their skills under the guidance of the coaches but also watched the club host Swansea at Stamford Bridge.
“We are bringing it closer home to spur up the African spirit in our plan to give the continent more recognition in the football scene,” stressed Patten.
The annual talent growing program works in partnership with local football federations and is open to players aged between 13-17 and has produced various internationally acclaimed stars among them, MacDonald Mariga who turns out for Italian Serie A side Parma and Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama who plays for French Ligue 1 club, Lille.
In the future editions, the organizers hope to integrate the girls’ category into the program to give them an equal opportunity to the boy child acknowledging that the talent is equally immense with the potential for growth.
“It’s sad that we seem to concentrate on the boys for now, but we have to first deal with the logistical issue of organization since not all countries have both gender participating in the tournament, clarified Bob Okello, the company’s Public Affairs manager.