NAIROBI, Kenya, May 29- Former Arsenal defender Sol Campbell believes there’s a lot of raw talent in Kenya but the major difference as to why African countries are not at par with their European compatriots is the infrastructure.
Speaking to Capital Sport before officiating the closing ceremony of a week-long coaching course conducted by Arsenal coaches in Nairobi, Campbell said if more attention was given to developing talent that in Kenya and the continent as a whole, then Africa’s game would rise.
“When you look across all Africa one thing that strikes me is the raw talent. It is hard to get raw talent in Europe, hard to get kids playing on the streets. For me you’ve got the ingredient. You only need the infrastructure. That’s the difference,” Campbell said.
He believes if players are developed from a young age in academies, then they would be better players when they land to European clubs.
The former England defender added that he was impressed by the talent he saw at the final day of the coaching clinic both with the coaches and the young kids who had been brought on.
“The creation of structures will aid transition from the youth to first team and have that kind of conveyer belt and philosophy from an early age is important such that when they get to Europe it is not a shock to them on the system. All that has to be in the informative stage of a kid.
Campbell was full of praise for Kenyan skipper Victor Wanyama, who is plying his trade in England with Southampton FC, noting he has been one of the reasons the Saints have performed well in the past two seasons.
“If you look at how he has performed since he arrived at Southampton, he has been very consistent. He has held on to that midfield role so well and every time he is not playing you will notice something is missing. For every team, a defensive midfield role is very key and for Wanyama he has ensured Southampton have that important ingredie.
“I think he is an example of what exact talent you have in this country. I believe there are more like him only they have not been exposed. He is a great ambassador of this country,” he stated.
Campbell took his time on the final day of his three-day Kenyan tour to mingle with upcoming players at under-14 level who had attended the final practical session of the coaching clinic organized by Premier League sponsors SportPesa.
“This is a great initiative because I have seen a list of enthusiastic coaches, enthusiastic kids and really, it is important to impart that knowledge on them. It is a huge step in the right direction by SportPesa,” Campbell offered.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri said it was a start of many more programs to be conducted by the betting firm in their five-year partnership with Arsenal.
The coaches will be needed to do monthly reports and will be assessed as their progress is checked.
“We learnt so much from this clinic. An all-round approach to a player’s behavior on an off the pitch, talent identification and management, psychology of a player, development of the youth and so much tactical knowledge. It has been a decent one week and we hope to get more of this because we have really grown,” Former Harambee Starlets coach Florence Adhiambo told Capital Sport.
His sentiments were echoed by AFC Leopards’ under-19 coach Ezekiel Akwana who said; “There was so much as coaches we didn’t know and now we have learnt. It is a great initiative but it should not stop here. We have grown so much and we expect more to help us grow the beautiful game.”