- President Ruto announced the U19 tournament will be staged in 2023
- The tournament will feature teams from across all counties
- The tournament will be run by FKF, national and county governments
Kenyan coaches have lauded President William Ruto after he announced the launch of a new youth tournament which will help churn out emerging talent as Kenya looks to qualify for the 2030 FIFA World Cup.
The tournament, dubbed the ‘Bottom Up’ Football tournament will be played across all 47 counties, with the final set to be staged every Jamhuri Day. President Ruto announced this in Jamhuri Day.
“Arrangements are at an advanced stage to launch a bottom up football tournament to be contested by Under-19 teams from all 47 counties. We will work with governors to build teams right from ward level,” the President said in his speech.
He added; “This is the first step in our football vision 2030 where we will target our Harambee Stars to play at the 2030 World Cup and Kenya to host the 2027 AFCON. Together let us build Kenyan football from the grassroots of our villages to the grand stage of the World Cup.
“I suggest to the Ministry that the finals of this intercounty tournament should be held on Jamhuri Day every year so that we can celebrate teams from across Kenya.”
Coaches laud initiative
And now, coaches have lauded the initiative, saying it will go a long way in increasing the pool of talent in the country.
FKF/ FIFA Coaching Instructor Beldine Odemba, herself a youth coach, has expressed her support for the youth tournament.
Odemba spoke during an FKF Instructors Refresher Workshop at the Kenya Institute of Special Education. She is among the 43 coaches that attended the workshop.
“This is good as it will be able to create a pool of youth players who can be scouted to youth National teams, and clubs participating in the FKF leagues and in the long run see them advance to the senior level,” said Coach Odemba.
Speaking at the same forum former National Team coaches Francis Kimanzi, Twahir Muhidin, Florence Odhiambo, and Zedekiah Otieno also voiced their support for the initiative.
“In my experience when the government is positive about football, the game grows much faster,” Muhidin said.
Development of young players
“We have seen this government end our international exile in their first week. And now this inter-county which I have seen work in the past leading to the development of many young players.”
Kimanzi asked the government not to delay starting the program.
“We support this fully because we are eager to see and develop new talents. And for me, this should start as soon as possible.”
The workshop was organized to update FKF/FIFA instructors in Kenya with the latest changes to the CAF coaching curriculum and was officially opened by FKF CEO Barry Otieno.
Meanwhile, Sports CS Ababu Namwamba says they are already speaking to sponsors to ensure that the tournament is well funded.
“We have engaged various stakeholders including Multichoice through Supersport to ensure that we have a successful tournament. We want Kenya to play at the 2030 World Cup and this is the only way to ensure that we prepare,” he said.