Courtesy of KenyaNet: Prior to the world cup qualifier between Kenya and Nigeria, President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged to reward Harambee stars players with Ksh 3 million should they upset Nigeria.
Nairobi's Senator Gideon “Mbuvi” Sonko for his part pledged Ksh 1 million for a win and Ksh 200,000 for each goal scored by Kenya.
Suffice to say none of that money will be forthcoming given that Kenya not only lost but did not score. In fact Kenya hardly tested Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama. There were times when Kenya displayed confidence, tactical astuteness and solid defending. However all this positive play happened in their own half. Harambee stars rarely ventured forward and indeed there was no shot on goal.
Why you may ask ? To begin with, Kenya was missing alpha Striker Dennis Oliech who was suspended due to successive yellow cards. Secondly, Kenya were wary of pushing too many players forward for fear of a Nigeria counter attack. Coach Adel Amrouche deduced that his best chance of winning was adopting a defensive stance and hoping to catch Nigeria on the counter-attack or on dead ball situations. To put it plainly, Kenya did not have the firepower to match Nigeria so Amrouche played it safe by focusing on defense.
How can Kenya build firepower enough to match the likes of Nigeria. The answer is simple : Youth development. There is plenty of talent in Kenya but it is all going to waste.
Rather than put the Ksh 4 million that they pledged back into their pockets, Sonko and Uhuru should explore ways to build from the grassroots. Uhuru as president should lead from the front and work with well intentioned individuals like Sammy Shollei, Dr William Obwaka, Paul Ereng and others to establish youth development schemes in counties all over the nation.
Without youth development, Kenya will perennially lose to the likes of Nigeria. Of the Kenya players, perhaps only Oliech and Wanyama are capable of cracking the Nigerian squad. What Kenya needs is a team of top calibre players like this duo. This can only happen with structured youth development. Other countries have dozens upon dozens of youth development schemes spread out all over the country. Kenya will never be able to compete with other countries unless they do the same. The country is doomed to mediocrity unless the current status quo changes.
Playing fields are disappearing
As Nairobi becomes more crowded, playing fields that were meant for youth to play are fast disappearing into the hands of land grabbers and so called investors. This spells doom for the future of football for it is on these fields that the stars of tomorrow sharpen their nascent skills. Sonko as senator of Nairobi should lead the charge in protecting these fields from land grabbers. Not only that but Sonko should build more fields so that youth have an avenue to keep themselves busy and away from crime.
During the colonial days and during the first two decades after independence, housing estates were always built with playing grounds for the youth. In fact virtually all the famous playing grounds in Nairobi were built by the British before Independence. This includes the famous Jericho sports grounds which has nurtured dozens of national team players. In fact even middle class estates always had playing grounds for the youth.
Nowadays, housing estates are never constructed with playing grounds. And those that existed have been grabbed and are now built up. This is spelling doom for the future of Kenya football. Sonko as Nairobi senator should lead the charge in reversing this trend.