One of the greatest football moments in the African continent, is not Ghana’s 2010 World Cup quarter final escapade but the Nigerian Super Eagles Olympic victory in 1996, Atlanta, Georgia.
It wasn’t because the victory opened up an avalanche of opportunities for African footballers, or that very few people outside and inside Africa had qualms of an African team eloquent enough to capture peoples' imagination with stunning brilliance, or the rare indication that Africa could compete on equal terms with the world’s best.
Maybe it was the swashbuckling spirit of the Nigerian team past feared Argentina and Brazil all the way to Gold.
Whatever the reasons, the salient message was, whatever Africa couldn’t compete with the developed football States for, it could compete for nurtured talent.
So good was that team, that later formed the bulk of the 1998 World Cup in France, that they had the nerve to be overconfident about winning the Coupe de Monde. The cockiness of course led to indiscipline, and they were bundled out by a resurgent Denmark in the Second Round.
But, who wouldn’t forgive an African team that even for a minute thought they could win the World Cup?
Besides, the politics and alleged corruption that has befuddled Nigerian football since then, their youth soccer has been their pride.
There have been remarkable
memories like the 2005 FIFA under-20 WC, 2008 Olympics where Nigeria
was also in the finals against Argentina, 2010 FIFA under-20 Women Championship
with Nigeria in the finals with Germany.
Painfully a Kenyan fan
It’s always insulting when a clueless person chest thumbs on football matters on national TV. From the Prime Minister to Ministers and worse off, the National Federation.
We have all heard them; “With good preparations, Kenya will be in the 2014 World Cup”...World Cup? Seriously? We do not yet know how to win the CECAFA Cup. Please!
What is the plan for youth development in Kenya? Because one need not give the FKF constitution a serious look to notice it has a very nondescript, if not Neanderthal approach to youth football.
In the constitution, there’s some emphasis on youth football tournaments. God forbid, it is not the self serving one-off corporate-branded, publicity-leveraging tournaments. By the way, it’s not their job; they do not have to do it.
What we lack is a comprehensive youth football structure, one that nurtures talent from Under 5 years, all the way to Under 23. All the while, the deliberate intention to work hard on home grown players by investing in training camps, teachers and coaches, good facilities and a truckload of ideas under a ‘certain’ philosophy. The challenge coming with all that will be how to create a better bridge from the successes of the youth programme to senior football.
In a country that believes short cut as the gospel to succeed, I see my folly in not understanding why that would be a folk tale or better still, a vision 2030. Because, if we were to do things the right way, we could be talking of reaping results, in 2030 for real. That is not a patient language the likes of Sam Nyamweya would understand.
The Spanish team current success is not a fluke; it is work that started around 10 years ago under their ‘fidelity strategy’, meaning, when the Spanish team was flopping in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Fabreags, Iniesta,Pique, Busquets, Iker Munian were being thrown into the works.
The ‘fidelity strategy’ has worked in two ways- it provides coaching and the opportunity to play for clubs. 77 per cent of the players who have been nurtured by that youth system ply their trade in La Liga clubs and are eligible to play for the national Spanish team. The other interesting bit of the philosophy is to have teachers who help young players prepare for life outside of football, a deliberate quick win with Spanish parents.
In a nutshell, the philosophy in Spanish football is to develop players from grassroots with their own Spanish personality of understanding football.
I will not even delve into the how the philosophy combines fundamental life values in the development of the player- again, I do not expect Sam Nyamweya and his hangers on to understand that.
FKF, you do not know
I may not know a lot, but what I know is that past, successive and current administrations do not seem to know what ails Kenyan football or how we can grow the game.
I also know that as long as we have individuals in that football office, (and you can bite me) inspired by their self aggrandizement, we are not going anywhere.
We aint going anywhere, because I said so, because those folks do not know.