Kenya missed on a chance to train at Aspire Academy in Qatar as neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania swept all the six places on offer.
Three Tanzanians and a similar number from Uganda will join other selected finalists from Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mali, Thailand, Paraguay and Vietnam for a three-week final testing phase at Aspire Academy.
Twenty other best players will be put on full scholarships to pursue the opportunity of becoming a “Champion in Sport” as well as a “Champion in Life”.
This is the highest number ever selected from this region.
“In the past, we have selected three from this region but this time the level of play was very high. We do not reveal the identities of the boys for now until after the last round of selection in Qatar to keep off coaches and agents who target them and lure them from the academy,” said Steve Othoro, Aspire Football Dreams director in Kenya. The final round of demonstrations which started Monday at the Kasarani Stadium and ended yesterday day drew 13-year-old boys from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
AFD-scouts and Aspire Academy experts assessed the 60 talented teenagers from the region to determine the most talented. Josep Colomer, the director of recruiting and scouting and Aspire Academy was impressed with the depth of talent displayed by the boys, prompting the selectors to pick a slightly higher number in previous trials. “We have witnessed excellent talent. For me, East Africa is one of the biggest football regions. When we started 10 years ago, people questioned out interest in Kenya, a country they said was only known for running. But now they have proved that they have talent in football. Local people need to believe and support that.
“We will keep doing this because it is a good way of giving hope to the children. This is what is missing in Africa and what is needed. Thanks to a programme like the Aspire Football Dream Program, players have the motivation to train as they know the scouts will come to see them,” said Colomer, who Barcelona’s former youth director. The 10th annual Aspire Football Dreams (AFD) programme seeks to give young teenagers a chance to showcase their skills and put them on path towards professional football.