Sport

Kenyan prodigies eye slots in Luis Figo Academy

Kenyan prodigies eye slots in Luis Figo Academy
  • The retired Portuguese professional footballer played for Sporting CP before crossing over to Spain where he turned out for rival clubs FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain
  • Dream Football Kenya Director Christine Karimi said her technical team under head coach Daniel Kamau embarked on a scouting process across the country
  • Karimi said the programme also doubles up as a social welfare project because it targets not just the children scouted, but also their families

A group of 44 young players aged between four and 16-years-old are undergoing intense training at Ol Donyo Sabuk Resort in Machakos County to form a team that will tour Portugal for a five-day camp hosted by former top midfielder Luis Figo Academy in Lisbon.

The retired Portuguese professional footballer played for Sporting CP before crossing over to Spain where he turned out for rival clubs FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain.

Figo also played for Inter Milan of Italy before retiring in 2009. The retired footballer won the 2000 Ballon d’Or and 2001 Fifa World Player on the Year, four La Liga titles, two Spanish Cups, three Spanish Super Cups and Uefa Champions League and among others.

Dream Football Kenya Director Christine Karimi said her technical team under head coach Daniel Kamau embarked on a scouting process across the country. The football scouting agency reached out to 500,000 boys and girls before selecting the 44 who will later be trimmed to the final 14 to make the trip.

“This has been achieved through school football tournaments which is part of the Kenya Primary Schools Sports Association (KPSSA), under the Ministry of Education,” she said.

Karimi said while in camp abroad, several top teams will have a chance to scout the Kenyan youngsters.

Blue Band, who have joined the initiative as the nutrition partner, have offered breakfast to the children to ensure that the players have energy to play.

Karimi said the brand has been pushing the “good breakfast” agenda and their target is to reach two million children this year.

Blue Band Marketing Manager Lian Wanjiku explained that a paper written by experts in 2016 highlights the link between a nutritious breakfast and better long-term school performance in children, adding that a nutritious breakfast gives children the essential energy and nutrients they need to grow, develop and reach their full potential at school and in their adult life.

Karimi said the programme also doubles up as a social welfare project because it targets not just the children scouted, but also their families, by providing food, health and educational subsidies in line with their four pillars; Nutrition, Education, Physical Fitness and Life Skills.

She said their biggest challenge is lack of facilities and a proper football structure for children at the grassroots level and various short-term projects that do not create sustainability for football programmes.

Local coaches Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee, Musa Otieno and Stanley Okumbi, who were invited to inspire the players, failed to turn up on Monday, but have promised to visit the camp in Machakos before it ends on December 5.