Divock Origi’s success means Kenyan football must look in the mirror

To watch Divock Origi is to be reminded of Kenya’s potential football riches. To watch Divock Origi is to remember Kenya’s consistent football woes.

The Belgian striker has got the moves of a hit man. His technical ability is sublime, his spatial awareness- out of this world. His movement is brilliant — it drags defenders with him, creating spaces for his teammates. He picks the perfect passes and as is expected from any striker, he can finish.

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The fact that Origi’s father is former Kenyan international Mike Okoth has got Kenyans in frenzy over the World Cup period. It almost feels as if he is Kenyan. His origin is, but his culture is not. Brought up in Belgium, he is as much a Kenyan as USA president Barrack Obama is.

Yet, there is no problem in celebrating him. There is no problem in feeling proud of him. But in the midst of all the fanfare over Origi should be a realisation that things in Kenyan football should be much better.

That Origi chose to play for Belgium and not Kenya is no surprise — not when Kenya languishes in the 100’s of the FIFA rankings. Not when Federation wrangles persist; when the only surety is that perceived highs will come to a crushing reality lows.

Would it be better for Origi to be scoring in a World Cup, or undergoing ill-prepared preparations for international games? The trend can probably show why Mike Okoth chose Belgium over Kenya for his son; why his son chose Belgium over Kenya. The prospects in the European nation were far much better.

But even then, it is not as if Kenyan football is showing the potential of significantly improving. The Under-17’s — who should be the future — have pulled out of CAF qualifiers while the senior team recently stumbled over the line in an AFCON 2015 qualifier against the Comoros Islands.

At the same time, it is rare, almost impossible to ever remember a group of players coming through a youth setup to join the senior national team.

What Origi’s exploits show is that with the right environment and with the proper football education, anyone can rise to the level of a World Cup goal scorer. Origi has risen to that level, and it is possible. But how many of Kenya’s footballers will ever get that same sort of environment, that same sort of football education, and eventually, that same sort of reward?

There has been call for change for a long time. At present, few of Kenya’s football administrators seem keen on ensuring that change comes along. For most of them, football is a profit making entity — where selfish gain is above anything else.

If only that perception were to switch. If only investment was put into developing youth structures and to encourage good coaching. Then, maybe, watching Origi will not just heighten the passions. It will also be a realisation of where Kenyan football can be.

For now however, watching Divock Origi is just showing how far behind Kenya is.

Mike Njoroge is a regular contributor to Superfoota and writes his own blog,  FutbolTriangle. He has also been published by Here Is the City, Beyond the Ninety Minutes and kandanda.co.ke. You can follow him on Twitter @MikeNjoro

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