NAIROBI, Kenya, April 28- Armed with skills perfected at English champions, Manchester United, four youngsters who represented the country at the third Airtel Rising Stars Soccer Clinic in Dar-es-Salaam returned home Monday bubbling with optimism.
Gerald Oketch, Ibrahim Shambi, Lilly Awuor and Mwanahalima Adam from Upper Hill, Kathungi, Olympic and St John’s Kaloleni secondary schools were among 70 participants from 13 countries who received training from United Soccer coaches.
“It was a good experience since the kids learnt a lot like dribbling skills, how to defend and attack if one is off the ball.
“We have talent in our country but the young players fail to develop their football skills at a tender age since we lack proper facilities. We pitched camp at Azam Sports Complex where they have a well equipped gym, swimming pool, three training grounds and one high class stadium,” team chaperone, John Musonye, said at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Shambi bagged the Adnan Januzaj award for dribbling and domination in attack, Awuor scooped the Ryan Giggs prize for skill of breaking out of tight situations whilst Adam was accorded the Star Award.
“After getting this experience I will share with my colleagues at Upper Hill to ensure we retain the national title and take the East African trophy this time round,” Oketch, the 16-year-old holding midfielder who dreams of playing for league champions Gor Mahia said.
“I will give my colleagues hints and we will have to change a lot for us to lift this years’ Airtel Rising Stars trophy,” Form 4 student Awuor, echoed.
“I will improve since I want to be scouted to play professionally one day,” 16 year old midfielder, Shambi who aspires to play for Bandari said added.
The five-day training that came to a climax on Sunday saw Kenya join Malawi, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, DRC, Niger, Madagascar, Gabon, Seychelles and host Tanzania.
The annual soccer clinic offered to youngsters from across Africa gives the upcoming players opportunity to develop their skills under the United Soccer Schools curriculum which intends to produce well balanced soccer players.
The two coaches Neil Scott and Andrew Stokes undertook a thorough program covering the technical and physical aspects of soccer.
The fourth edition of Africa Airtel Rising Stars championships will be held in Gabon from September.