NAIROBI, March 22 – The Kenyan Premier League Under-19 tournament is set to be revived in April after missing for three years.
KPL chairman Ambrose Rachier disclosed to Capital Sport that the league’s governing body is in discussion with betting firm SportPesa to sponsor the junior tournament which has been held only twice since inaugural in 2011.
The initial plan was to hold the tournament every school holiday in April, August and December with finances from the KPL Top 8 gate collections. However, the tournament was only held in April 2011 with Thika United winning it.
The tourney was not held in 2012 due to lack of finance but returned in 2013 where Western Stima beat Tusker FC to lift the trophy.
“The tournament is important as it helps in developing of our game because we have to ensure we get the structures right from the youth level. It’s something the sponsors are keen on and we are still holding discussions to finalize,” Rachier declared.
KPL Chief Executive Officer Jack Oguda also confirmed that talks are at an advanced stage and will be discussed in the league’s governing council once a meeting is called.
“At the moment the discussions are going on and talks are at an advanced stage, hopefully in April we will hold our first tournament after three years absence” Oguda added.
The previous two editions produced some of the finest players in the league including Jackson Macharia, who skippered Thika United to the title in 2011 alongside AFC Leopards winger Clifton Miheso.
Gor Mahia forward Enock Agwanda was also a product of the 2011 class where he featured for losing finalists Sony Sugar.
A huge bunch of Western Stima’s 2013 winners; keeper Gabriel Andika, Baron Oketch, Vitalis Akumu, Kevin Okoth and Junior Mugambi went on to be absorbed in the senior team where they are regular starters.
Other popular figures to come through the 2013 tournament are Mathare United duo of Eric Johannah and Edwin Mwaura as well as Sweden based forward Michael Olunga who turned out for Tusker FC then.
Gor, Tusker FC and Bandari are the only KPL clubs with structured youth sides with K’Ogalo’s side enjoying success in the Nairobi County League.
Ulinzi Stars and AFC Leopards are the early birds in constituting their junior teams with Ingwe holding trials last weekend in Nairobi, netting 25 youngsters while Ulinzi are set to announce their squad soon.
“It is important every KPL club to have a youth team. It is too expensive for us to buy players every transfer window and if we develop our own, we will cut the cost,” Rachier affirmed.
This year’s tournament will adopt the initial blue print from 2011, being played through the school holidays.