Rodgers Ndegwa @PeopleSports11
Thirty-nine-year-old Francis Thairu might have hanged up his boots but he left an indelible mark in grassroots football. The Kawangware United coach scored 21 goals as his team won their maiden SportPesa Super Eight Premier League title in the 2017 season that ended last month, sharing the Golden Boot gong with NYSA striker Sam Lemashon.
That was not a mean feat given the top scorer in the lucrative SportPesa Premier League, Kenya’s top flight, Masoud Juma only managed 17 goals yet he had the privilege of playing in a more organised, well-paying league and on better surfaces than the rough, dusty and sometimes muddy grounds Super Eight players have to contend with.
Now that he has retired, Thairu has dedicated his time to nurturing other footballers who will do well not only at grassroots but professional level in Kawangware and around Nairobi.
“My time in competitive football has elapsed and it’s time to let others enjoy the fruits of the game. I am now focusing on transferring what I have learned all those years to others through coaching,” said Thairu, who was part of the 60 local coaches who went through the first edition of the SportPesa Arsenal Training Clinic.
He added: “For one to achieve greatness in any sports discipline, they must believe in the power of their dreams. It is time for upcoming players at the grassroots level to claim their place in football.
There is raw talent at the community level and with proper guidance, these young players can play in some of the biggest leagues abroad. They just have to push themselves more and focus on improving their skills.”
Thairu started playing football while at Ndururua Primary School before honing his skills further at Kawangware Secondary School. His self-drive saw him play for Kenyan Premier League side World Hope now Nairobi City Stars and he never looked back.