Last week saw hundreds of students converge at Eldoret’s Hill School for Term Two games where champions were crowned in different sporting disciplines.
While the limelight is on winning teams, individual brilliance could not go unnoticed.
The students, who had toiled to qualify for the national games from the zonal to regional level, were out to prove that they deserved to be on that stage and while at it, extremely talented players who had not been heard of before were discovered.
This, however, is not new as every year the Kenya Secondary School Sports Association (KSSSA) games churn out talents that go to waste as the channels for following up on these students are wanting.
Volleyball teams in the country are to be lauded for recruiting players from the school games. However, the national volleyball league has few teams and not all excellent players get their dream move to the premier league.
The script is different for football. Despite the talent displayed during this championship, we continue to struggle in our quest to qualify for major tournaments as a country. In a perfect setting, the federations would use the NBA draft format used in United States. The best college players are automatically drafted to the National Basketball Association (NBA) teams with the most talented joining the bottom placed team in the league.
“We have no legal partnership with any of the federations. However, we invite them every year. We have no mandate to dictate how or where they do their selections but it would greatly help our sports if they used these platforms for their selections,’ said KSSSA chairperson Peter Orero.
In the last decade, countable names have made it past the high school fame to national football. Kevin Omondi, Wycliff Ochomo, Michael Olunga and Eric Ouma make that list. This is unlike their peers in the 1980’s and 90’s whose generation seems to have faded away with Dennis Oliech and MacDonald Mariga.
More could be engaged in the age bracket teams but players as young as 19 should be playing for the senior national team if our football is to progress.
Additionally, schools that churned talents back in the days, among them Kisumu’s Thur Gem, Kamukunji, Ofafa among others have consigned to oblivion.
National under 20 head coach Stanley Okumbi admits that the school games are the perfect platform to select players for any team to ensure growth.“While we scout for national team players from these games, the same cannot be said about premier and national league teams. We can only accommodate so many in the national teams. Our challenge however when it comes to fielding the selected players is lack of necessary documents which at times forces us to replace talented players,” explained Okumbi adding that they ensure there is a balance in players from schools, sports academies and league teams in their selection.