To play in the Kenya Premier League (KPL), all teams should have Complete Developmental Soccer Programs and Youth Sides Comprising Youngsters of between the age of 6 and 21 years. The FKF should also make it a precondition before getting greelight to play in the KPL and the National Super League (NSL) Qualifications.
Why so? The Development of many technically capable home-made players would serve all stakeholders’ greatest interests and this is how. If the FKF went on to introduce a rule in which it would require all KPL teams to have fully fledged developmental soccer programs and academies, then this would go a long way in re-vibrating the state of soccer in the country up to the national team level. Besides, this rule could also be introduced to all teams playing or those which have earned qualification to play in the second tier league, (NSL). This could naturally result into the creation of a sizable number of soccer development academies.
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For once, think about the role a focused soccer academy can play in the development of complete young soccer players (technique wise, intelligence, fitness and mentality/personality wise). Though there is no sure guarantee for outright success of the program, such a rule or strategy can bring many technically talented youngsters through to play at the elite level, change the way soccer is developed from the grass roots and lead to a complete football system overhaul in Kenya. However, to reap the best fruits from such a strategy, all KPL and NSL teams should consider recruiting only the most promising youths and providing them with the required technical and tactical knowledge at an early stage. Besides, the federation must put developmental soccer coaches education at the forefront such that they’re well equipped to recruit and train the best youngsters. Additionally, KPL and NSL clubs should be encouraged to work with or affiliate with private institutions’ soccer development programs from which they can tap one of the most talented individual young players and recompense them for the youngsters’ education or development.
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For the system to work well, the FKF’s consideration and priority should go to the provision of weekly soccer sessions by well knowledgeable and experienced coaches at KPL, NSL and private clubs. This enhances the synchronization of respective clubs’ developmental programs with the FKF best practice. Holistic soccer development should not be unfamiliar to the youngsters through out the whole system (well integrated and mentored through a similar or familiar process from the grassroots to topflight level including national team level). In this case, surprises in development and playing philosophy will be minimized. Additionally the strategy can serve as the FKF’s best monitoring and evaluation tool for youth soccer development and also help KPL and NSL minimize extra player transfer costs since the rule emphasizes educating and playing with more technical domestically educated young players.
We think continuous monitoring and evaluation by the FKF and maintaining cordial working relationships with respective clubs can add value in several ways as youngsters in development will be under the radar from the federation, clubs and the national team coach. Conclusively the FKF and respective clubs should work out to deliver the best soccer development programs, at the best facilities, Prioritizing youth academies’ coaches’ education and invest in thorough scouting such that spending on education goes to the most promising talented player. Besides all KPL, NSL and private soccer development clubs or institutions MUST prioritize the young players school education such that youngsters have something to fall back to (search for a job- career wise) in case they failed to make full soccer professionals.
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The author is a coach at The Soccer Club of East Africa (SCEA).