NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 24 – Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Luke Shaw, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Callum Chambers just to name but a few are some of the best products from the famous Southampton football academy, and the club now sets sight on producing a player on the same line from Kenya.
Coaches from the club’s development unit are in the country for the next one week for a training camp with Kenya’s development side, most of who have been drawn from the national under-17 team that played in the African Youth Championship qualifiers last year.
Southampton FC lead youth development phase coach Danny Maye speaking to Capital Sport as the training camp was launched on Monday believes there is so much talent from the continent and his team is determined to ensure a new star rises.
“We are very pleased to be here in Kenya for this project and my objective with the team is to help Kenya and the federation to develop these young players and coaches especially to achieve the dream for qualification to the 2022 World Cup,” Maye said.
“There is always talent around and it is our duty to develop this potential. I would be proud as a coach one day seeing one of these players turning their dreams into reality and playing for the Southampton FC first team,” he added.
The coach hopes that the training camp which is a first of many will help unearth another gem, just like Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama who played for three seasons in Southampton before moving to North London side Tottenham Hotspur.
“Victor was a fantastic servant of the club. We really developed and pushed him when he was with us; we enjoyed having him at the club,” Maye opines.
The group of 30 players together with the FKF development coaching team led by Technical Director Andres Spier will be put through developmental coaching phases with the aim of sharpening their talent while giving the coaching team tips to keep the work going even after the coaches are gone.
Spier speaking on the sidelines of the launch believes there will be so much gain by the team which found the going tough during last year’s qualifiers, losing heavily to Cameroon’s junior side.
“It has a huge importance; it is about developing the football and it is beneficial to coaches and players. We have to improve our knowledge so it’s a good opportunity to have Southampton here because they are one of the best producers of football talent in England,” Spier noted, looking ahead to the program.
His sentiments are shared by FKF Chief Executive Officer Robert Muthomi who believes the first of many programs under the three-year partnership will be beneficial especially as Kenya looks to qualify a team for the 2019 African Youth Championships which will be held in neighboring Tanzania.
“It helps us compare notes; Southampton have a very good system and we have our own technical bench. They will sit together compare notes and how can we benchmark and they will look at our players and what we need to do, this helping us develop,” Muthomi noted.
One of the players who will be in the squad of 30 is 16-year old Kakamega High School student Joshua Otieno who was also part of the Kenyan team that played English Premier League developmental side Hull City in a friendly match last month.
Otieno had a chance to train under the Hull junior team after the friendly and he hopes this second chance to be trained by some of Europe’s elite development coaches will help catapult him into achieving some of his dreams.
Southampton has brought in a whole team of coaches and support staff. Head development coach Maye will be assisted by Daniel Wright (Youth Development Phase Coach), Simon James Locke (Academy Goalkeeping Coach), Matthew Depledge (Strength and Conditioning coach), Kerry O’Hara (Physio) and Andrew Martino (Global Football Development Manager).
Maye opined they will concentrate on developing the players holistically, just like they do it at the Staplewood training ground in England’s South Coast.
“We have a particular culture and philosophy; It is about turning potential to excellence. We look to work with specific abilities, psychology and developing the players around their age in terms of sports science, physical strength, tactical and technical aspects,” Maye noted.