” I would like to thank my mother for believing in me……..”
That’s how most accomplished athletes talk about their mothers. It would be great if I could raise one of those accomplished football players who go on to play for the greatest football club teams in the world. It would be even more gratifying if my child could be one of those athletes playing for his country and I could finally have a reason to attend the World Cup.
I am guilty of watching too many football games- if there is such a thing as watching too much especially when it comes to the World Cup. I have recently been obsessing about watching and rewatching Phenoms- a 20 episode series chronicling the new football stars. I am in awe of the single parents who have raised their children most from abject poverty such as Gabrielle Jesus ..Paolo Dybala. Gabrielle’s story is particularly appealing to the mother in me because of the high bond and reverence he has for his mother. I am currently living vicariously through all the great parents who raised phenomenal athletes who grow to fight at the World Cup every four years.
As a Kenyan, the World Cup is bittersweet every four years. Kenya has never qualified to play at the World Cup since we started participating in 1974. Kenya has had 21 attempts to crack the Africa qualifying games without success.
What are we doing wrong in Kenya?
We are a football-loving country with one of the biggest gambling machinery for the English premier league. The Kenyan league is at the mercy of the SportPesa mafia who refuse to pay taxes in Kenya yet they support two English premier teams with the money they make from Kenyans….. Neocolonialism? Though the government claims it needs the tax money for the Sports Fund. the Kenyan government is chronically infested by officials who have a persisting history of pilfering the sports funds including the meagre sports kits for themselves. Football could uplift youth with skills out of poverty, but the mismanagement of the league has robbed the children of Kenya their future. It was no wonder when Kenyan children were asked to wear their soccer hero jersey there was the ad nauseum display of premier league stars jerseys.
So when did the Kenyans become colonized by the premier league?
In the 1990s, the Kenyan Football league was plagued with scandal and corruption that left their fans embittered with nowhere to turn but foreign leagues. It was also in the 90s when Kenyans slowly switched to the premier league after the advent of Supersport channel and the diversification of the television business. Corruption was so rampant that Kenya was suspended from international competition by FIFA in 2004 and 2006
So, when should start cultivating my child’s skills?
Senegal one of the highest ranked football leagues in Africa invested in its youth by creating soccer academies to develop the stars of tomorrow. They have not disappointed even as they barely hang on with enough points to play in the knockout stage of the World Cup. By the time this post goes live- they are the last African country at the World Cup. We all need to do better in Africa.
According to my extensive googling:-
Ages 3-6 is a sound stage to start with the basics of football and by age 15 you late.
I am going to get on this football thing started and if my child doesn’t have skills? Well, he will learn teamwork hard work, and he will still be young enough for the law, medicine or whatever new-age thing his generation will come up with.