Shihuli Primary School playground has emerged as the host of eight six talented youngsters of Evestar Youth Centre in Kakamega East, Kakamega County.
Founded five years ago under current director Margret Wabwire Shikoli with Davies Ingoi Imbayi as the head coach, the centre is emerging as one of the fast growing and well managed in the County.
Situated along the busy Khayega -Shinyalu Road and about a half-a-kilometre from River Yala, boys aged 14-17 years are taken through their paces under the head coach, Imbayi, during weekends and holidays.
The founder, Shikoli, who runs a business at Shihuli Market notes that her vision to develop talent in the region pushed her to the start the centre that has proved a hit within the community and far beyond its Kakamega venue.
As a caring mother she was moved with the plight of most of the youth who camp around River Yala fishing, harvesting sand and even at times retrieving dead bodies of persons who drown from the river when other are at school.
“I started to observe the children keenly and noticed that when the river is flooded they played a football made from polythene bags. “About eight of the boys impressed me with their raw talent.
Being a soccer fan, I approached them and found out that majority were orphans and had dropped from school due to lack of fees and other family needs, “ said Shikoli.
She added that she took the initiative of approaching several head teachers of various primary schools since she noticed that most of the boys were willing to get back to school.
“The next step was to bring the boys together and impact soccer skills and I thank God the response was very encouraging. “However, at the beginning I had several challenges ranging from registration of the centre and sourcing for the facilities and even offering accommodation to some players.
“Some individuals especially my relatives heeded to my call and stepped in by offering support and I thank them all since this has made the centre now stand its feet, “ she added.
She also said that she has acquired the services of a qualified coach who trains young boys during weekends and school holidays so that they do not interfere with school’s learning programs.
She singles out Evelyn Mukanda, based in United Kingdom who has been of great help to the centre. “I wish to appeal to all the best soccer secondary schools in the area to work closely with us as we have laid out proper exit programmes to assist the players.
“I am also sending a passionate appeal to the county government and the CDF office to consider upgrading soccer fields as these bumpy facilities are hampering our progress through unnecessary injuries, “ she appealed.
On his part the head coach Ingoi thanked the director for the great sacrifice she has made and promised to work harder for the centre to realise the dream. “With the current financial difficult situation it is rare to find someone who sacrifices her self-interests at the expense of others, “ Ingoi said.
He added that he has established links with the clubs from the region and various institutions as one way of exposing his boys.
“The talent is so abundant in the region and we need to utilise it to its full potential am sure if we join hands and work closely our sporting industry will create employment to millions of the youth, “ pleaded Ingoi.
He also appealed to county assemblies to come up with the bill of assisting former players by attaching them to various youth centres, as this will lift the soccer standards in the whole country.