KPL U19; Illusions that do not bind

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Every single country, every single club, every serious football entity always looks forward to the future with optimism, with hope that the young men and women they have in their youth set-ups would all one day turn to be the stars of tomorrow.

Not a foreign/new idea to the Kenyan game, it’s a pity that youth football hasn’t been taken seriously except for a few academies run privately or by communities that struggle from time to time to stay afloat. Kenya Premier League the body tasked with the running of the league thus wouldn’t have gotten it wrong having KPL junior sides take part in a tournament.

While it’s a welcome idea and one that needs to be thoroughly applauded, we will all agree more needs to be done. The game has suffered a lot due to the unavailability of such initiatives; the challenges/undeniable facts that face the country’s game cannot be denied. Is this a start to embracing the problem and seeking to tackle it or is it just another way round the problem?

AGE

Certainly for an U19 tourney, each team is expected to present a lad probably 19 to as young as 16/15. A honest competition always brings out the best in players, honest analysis of the future and even build a much better platform for future developments regarding that particular level of the game.

At this point it shouldn’t be assumed that I’m questioning the honesty of the players, their coaches or even the clubs regarding the age issue but what if proper background checks were done well in advance before the tourney kicked off.

With a short time span to verify ages of players, it’s hard for KPL to actually trace the history of the players (verifying every single detail) and clear them to be able to take part in the tourney.

An MRI scan in this part of the world might not be easy to come by but for honesty sake- more money has been spent on much more non-important stuff and hiring one for such purposes should be a welcome idea. With an MRI- it’s not right to say honesty shall be 100% achieved but the margin of truth shall be absolutely close to call.

With a serious plan for the future, in conjunction with the federation- more time should be given for scrutiny and proper tests for age. It’s also only right that absolute caution and honesty is adhered to so the aim of improving soccer from a young age is achieved and honest young men not locked out on what would have been a chance to showcase their talent to the world.

BOND

How many times have you heard this word used before in football- I guess severally.

While the future of Kenyan Football is showcased in a tourney like this- a few honest questions should be addressed. How many of these teams have their own academies? How many of these players have played together for even a month? What happens once the tournament is over? Is a tournament a long term objective or is a league system a much better way of promoting the game?

While we may not have all the answers, it’s fair to note apart from Thika United (KPL U19 defending champions) not so many KPL sides have established U19 sides. Financial constraints might be attributed to this but again it doesn’t look like most teams are keen on setting up such structures. The tradition hasn’t been there in the past and high schools have been relied upon as talent producing hubs but with the country seeking to move to more professional levels- its right to note, the earlier teams set up such youth sides the better for them.

While a tourney may last for a week or two- a league is a much better way of exposing the lads to much more different environments and realities associated with the game. A home match may be different from an away match setting- the crowds, pitches, treatment by the hosts, weather just to mention a few. Exposing a player to such experiences at a younger age gives him a rough example of what to expect when he finally makes it to the senior side and enables him learn how to react when presented with certain situations. It also gives the coaches an idea of what a player would be and how he reacts when subjected to certain changes.

I will not utterly bash the U19 tourney idea but the thought that after a tourney like this, players have to part is absolutely hurting. For most teams that never get past the group stages- it’s a shaming reality that the short time used for training would bear (no maximum) fruits. For those who manage to make it to the latter stages of the tourney, a worthwhile chance might be in the offing but as always- just how sure are you?

It’s a fallacy to imagine that just two weeks/three weeks/a month of football can allow a proper U19 side to jell together- I believe a proper youth side needs lots of time, constant monitoring and frequent tweaking here and there to bring out a properly established playing unit.

While competition is stiff and winning the tourney a plus, the whole idea of football development shouldn’t be thrown out of the window. A bond brings out the best in a team under any circumstance; a quick fix might fix quickly but certainly with a little pressure comes the disintegration.

15 Comments
  1. Wow, i so love this. spot on, i wonder if that Gor Mahia U19 team is really under 19. such a shame we have thrown soccer development out ofvthe window and now resorted to cheating. SAD

    • I might not be able to speak about the Gor Mahia U19 squad in detail but cheating is now an idea against the ideals of football development. Thank you for reading and welcome

  2. I truly believe scaring away Sakata Football challenge has stunted the growth of our soccer development and tapping on the true youths who graced the tournament.

    • Hallo Mgema, Sakata was such a noble idea; the forces that killed it would be in our face known to be distant from this KPL U19 tourney but the undeniable fact is that- the same end awaits this tourney.

      While FKF had financial and maybe logistical reasons for stopping Sakata Ball- KPLU19 is funded by money from gate collections of TOP8. We surely need to get serious soonest.

  3. I guess the clubs who have under-19 or even under-16 (if ever that would happen) should be for lads who have grown through their ranks. The issue about youth football is to see that they are developed by the clubs. Each club must show a commitment to the development of the game. There is untapped potential out there- lots of talent that just needs to be harnessed and nurtured

    • Absolutely- with no commitment it shall be the same thing year in year out.
      Clubs shall hire academies and other sporting entities for this tourney and dump them at the end of the tourney- zero growth.

  4. Even if they can account for potential age cheating the thing that really worries me is that most clubs merely scrambled together whatever young footballers they could get a hold of from wherever, at the last minute to enter in the competition, and KPL ALLOWED IT! Totally missing the point as far as clubs being a breeding ground for tomorrow footballers.

    • Absolutely- no time factor was brought into play when putting together the teams. some teams have been together for maybe 1 week or two and now since they are out of the tourney: it ends

  5. Its high time youth soccer should be taken seriously in this country, the tapping youthful talent is the sure way of reinforcing the standards of soccer in our country. Great piece of article we have here .

  6. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

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