JUNE 29, 2018:
At a time the entire Continent of Africa is struggling with the pain of being bundled out of the World Cup, I am glad to welcome Jomo Sono to Kenya. Jomo is a premier footballer, soccer administrator and football entrepreneur with some big plans for the game in Kenya.
I met Jomo in South Africa recently and I interested him in helping develop soccer in Kenya in addition to investing in other areas. He pledged to start soccer academies in the country in addition to starting a football club in Kenya.
It is in that capacity as potential investor in Kenya soccer and in our youth that I welcome him to the country.
Jomo has a talent in discovering and developing new football talent, especially from rural areas. Phil Masinga, Helman Mkhalele, Mark Fish of Bafana Bafana were some of his recruits who went ahead to do a great duty for their country in soccer.
The lack of money and professionalism, as well as poor youth development is hurting Africa’s soccer and we must address these urgently.
The world of football is a multi-billion business that requires a high level of professionalism. As a country and a Continent, we have a long way on the road to professionalism. We need improvement in nearly all departments.
We need to scale up student participation rate in football in school and make that participation as professional as possible.
In countries that have made impact even in the ongoing World Cup, most of boys in the ages of 7 and 12 play soccer in schools under what is very close to professional guidance.
We most likely don’t have data on soccer in our schools and where it takes place, it is largely a pedestrian affair. We need to change that.
We need our kids to play often and in a structured way. In Europe, the recommended period is 4.5 hours a week for 40 weeks. Today, there is no structure that even allows this in our schools.
Football now needs to be a co-curricular, not extra-curricular activity.
Centres of excellence must now go from being just empty talk. They must sprout everywhere.
Then the best of the young talents need a comprehensive development system which is currently lacking.
We need pitches, a pool of coaches, fitness and goalkeeper coaches.
We need to revisit the national service commitments of young players during the most crucial period of their development.
The weak coffers have prevented us from sending our teams overseas more often for top-level exposure. Our soccer managers must present us with solid plans for raising money for our game. We cannot afford to be bundled out at group stages next World Cup.