NAIROBI, Kenya, June 13 – Fourteen Kenyan youths are among the 60 players from East Africa chasing slots to train at the Aspire Academy in Qatar and Senegal.
At least 10 boys will be selected on Thursday at the annual Aspire Football Dreams (AFD) programme that seeks to give young teenagers a chance to showcase their skills and put them on the patch towards professional football.
The final round of selection began Monday at the Safaricom Kasarani Stadium, drawing 13 year-old boys from across the East Africa region with Uganda leading with 18 finalists.
Hosts Kenya has 14 players, same as Tanzania while Rwanda has the least with only four finalists.
Aspire Academy experts will assess the 60 candidates from the region to determine the most talented.
The best players from each participating countries including three goalkeepers will head to Aspire Academy in Qatar for a three-week final testing phase while the 20 best players will be on full scholarships to pursue the opportunity of becoming a “Champion in Sport” as well as “Champion in Life.”
The trials are a three stage selection process where in the first two stages the registered boys participated in 25 minute 11-aside games.
The best players went on to second phase, where they took part in another round of 11-aside matches under the watch of international scouts to determine the top players in respective countries.
The programme kicked off in 2007 in Africa, attracting seven counties and about 420,000 young football players were screened.
AFD extended the programme to two other continents (Asia and Latin America) in a bid to support more regions and children.
Subsequently, a satellite branch of Aspire Academy was installed in Senegal and from 2007 to 2014; more than 3.5 million kids have been screened in 17 countries with at least 20 scholarships awarded each year.