We are soccer animals: politics of Kenyan football 3
As millions of Kenyans continue to eat, breathe, sleep and dream international football, all is not well at home and there is little to show for it.
“I have been in football since the age of 14. We are full of football. We are born there to develop it because we are soccer animals. We are not in football for individual business of going to Parliament. I am talking about footballers!” Claims Patrick Naggi, Technical Director, Kenya Football Limited
Naggi is passionate about football but he feels Kenyan football is not headed in the right direction. There is a lack of youth programmes in the Premier Leagues. Each club in the premier league should have its Nursery, says Naggi.
According to Naggi, football is a living organism. It grows. The football team ages. A healthy team component comprises under 21 players who are the players of tomorrow, nurturing talent. Next are the 22-27s who are at their peak performance level, playing today. Those aged 28-32 are the players of yesterday, at their decline phase. “Our national players are at the decline phase,” says Naggi.
Fifteen percent of Players of tomorrow (18-21) should be in the team. Players of today should be 60 percent while the 27-35s should form the 25 percent. As these players are aging, they develop nil commitment to club, more commitment to family and even greater commitment to injuries. Football is a dynamic organism. It grows. It ages. That is not a healthy team. There is the need for each club to have its own programme to fill into the main team.
Over 40 percent of declining game trouble are politicians. They are troubleshooters. They bring into football the politics of, “You will lose, we own the team organiser and manager” and incite the players. When the players lose their focus, they become trouble shooters too. Dissolving a four-year well nurtured team and sacking the coach overnight on television just because a team has lost a game is distrastous. It destroys the foundation upon which a team is built.
“Football is a very unforgiving game. When you are at your peak, everyone loves you and wants a piece of you. When you lose, you lose alone.”Observes Naggi.
These are the hard facts and the painful reality that soccer animals must contend with. The lifeline of a player is between 18 and 12 years because that is the much the body can give. The danger is that Kenya picks her footballers at the age of 18 (add 12 years to this) and you get 30 years.
When you hit 32 years as a footballer you become a luggage to the rest of the team. At 34, you are a heavy luggage, you are married and have children who are six to ten years old…you are redundant.
As they play, they should be doing external courses. Tomorrow will come and find you unprepared. They must be prepared for retirement. They should be turned into coaches or into managers so that when they become baggage to the team, they do not feel left out.
Thanks to the County system expected from the promulgated Constitution, talented soccer players will be recruited from the community teams. That is the life span of a player and that is how sad it is for players who want to cling to the team despite their sell-by date. CAF, the 53-member governing body of African Football founded in 1957, has a way forward. Since 2009, the Confederation of African Football came up with a master plan for coaches in Africa. “By 2013, no Coach will be allowed to coach a club in Africa without CAF certification. Just like in UEFA (the Union of European Football Association), nobody can coach in Europe without an UEFA certificate. The same applies in Asian Football Confederation where one cannot coach in Asia without an ASC certificate.
Which way, Kenya?
In 2012, Kenya had a Level C, CAF course. This involved premier League coaches.Between September 5 and September 16, 2011, CAF was expected to undertake Level B training of 42 participants , two of whom were women: The highly experienced women coaches were Florence Adhiambo, a CAF coach instructor and Jacqueline Mwangi, USA graduate coach, currently coaching at the International School of Kenya.
It goes for 120 hours with a minimum eight hours a day. The rigorous training involves practicals, theory, psychology, sports injury, diet, Public Realtions and general management and exams. There are two certificates upon graduation. Certificate of Participation and Certificate of Merit. Failure to pass the training simply means you do not move to the next level. The structure: Professional Level A/B/C. Level D grassroots. Local Certification C-B-A. This aims towards professionalisation of coaching in Africa. This will result in better pay packages for coaches in future.
All soccer animals should participate in developing Kenyan football to professional levels by engaging in positive euphoria, discouraging politicians from using football as a stepping stone to their careers and supporting local matches. It is not just about singing, dancing, flocking large screens and wearing International Tee-shirts. It is about getting it right. The struggle continues.
The Serialisation of The Politics of Kenyan Football continues.