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KPL U20 champs provide internship ground for aspiring coaches

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AFC Leopards Youth coach Boniface Ambani watches in dissapointment after his side lost on penalties to Mathare United in the KPL U20 Championship final on December 31, 2016. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 2- The Kenyan Premier League Under-20 championship has offered an ‘internship’ platform for young and aspiring coaches who are starting up their careers with most of the teams being handled by start-up tacticians.

While Mathare United, the eventual champions of the December edition were handled by an experienced coach in Yussuf Chippo, the tournament has generally given young coaches an opportunity to build their portfolio and expertise.

“I wanted such a challenge because I am already thinking of life after playing. I was given the opportunity by the management and I thank them. I saw this as a chance to build my portfolio and I can say I have enjoyed it,” Bandari goalkeeper Wilson Obungu who handled the club’s Youth team told Capital Sport.

Oburu who currently has basic Football Kenya Federation coaching papers made his mark and did it well, leading the Bandari juniors to the quarter finals for the first time in three attempts. He now plans to better his papers, eyeing the CAF coaching credentials.

Obungu took time in his off season to coach the Bandari Youth team in the KPL U20 Championship, leading them to the quarter finals. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Finalists AFC Leopards who made it further than the quarters for the first time were handled by Boniface Ambani, another upcoming tactician who is having his first shot at coaching with the Ingwe Cubs.

“I never even wanted to get into coaching in the first place. What pushed me is that I looked around and I saw things were not being done the right way and with the little knowledge I have, I was angry and thought I could give it a shot and show how things should be done,” Ambani, who had previously put his energy on business said.

The former Tusker and Yanga SC forward took charge of the Ingwe Cubs early last year and he now says the success he has enjoyed with the juniors will push him to seek bigger challenges.

“It has showed me that I can actually do it and I see myself taking this even further. I believe I am good at it,” Ambani says with a little chuckle under his conviction.

Other coaches who have used the Under-20 Championship to horn their skills include Sony Sugar’s Sylvester Wanyama, Chemelil’s Charles Odero who has also been an understudy with immediate former senior team coach Francis Baraza, and Ulinzi’s Lawrence Owino who is the Warriors’ assistant coach.

“It is a great opportunity to learn because the best way to start is with the young ones. I started up last year and I can say I have learnt quite a lot. I think it is wise for clubs to let young coaches work with these young teams,” Odero said in another interview.

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