•Otieno spoke as it emerged that 25 Kenyan coaches have been given a second chance to complete their CAF B coaching course, which was disrupted when Kenya was suspended by Fifa earlier this year.
•The tacticians breathed a sigh of relief when the Geneva-based body lifted the suspension on November 28, allowing them to begin training afresh.
Local football stakeholders have ripped their hair out while seeking solutions to Kenya's dwindling fortunes on the international stage.
Some have previously blamed the country's poor performance on inexperienced grassroots coaches who cannot instil appropriate techniques in developing players.
While the blame game continues, the Football Kenya Federation's chief executive officer Barry Otieno believes they have finally discovered a remedy that could alleviate Kenya's perennial headache.
"The only way to grow our football is to increase the number of qualified coaches in the country," Otieno said. "The world is becoming more competitive and we must begin developing our players early enough to prepare them for the global stage."
Otieno spoke as it emerged that 25 Kenyan coaches have been given a second chance to complete their CAF 'B' coaching course, which was disrupted when Kenya was suspended by Fifa earlier last year.
The group will be the second cohort to complete the course, which was done in the country for the first time in 2020.
The development is good news for the coaches whose ambitions were shattered when Kenya ruffled Fifa's feathers by expelling Nick Mwendwa's administration from Kandanda House.
The tacticians breathed a sigh of relief when the Geneva-based body lifted the suspension on November 28 last year, allowing them to begin training afresh.
Otieno stated that the federation is eager to train more coaches to raise Kenya's standards to the desired level.
"I am delighted for these coaches. They have worked hard for a long time to obtain an important professional qualification that will open doors for them," Otieno said.
“I am also pleased for Kenyan football because we have now promoted 50 coaches to the elite level, which is critical for our country's tactical development. We plan to have at least 100 CAF 'B' coaches by the end of the year,” he added.
Kariobangi Sharks head coach William Muluya, former Ulinzi Stars defender Stephen Ocholla and Bidco assistant coach Simon Wagema are part of the group taking up the course.
Gor Mahia head coach Johnathan McKinstry believes that having more trained coaches in the country will significantly improve the quality of the game in local leagues.
"You can see there is a great deal of hunger. People want to know when is the next CAF 'B' and CAF 'A' license course? How Do I renew licence? How do I improve my game level," said Johnathan McKinstry.
"This shows the coaches have a strong desire to succeed. Quite clearly, FKF has some big plans over the next three-five years to provide support to coaches. I believe through that, we will develop better players, which means better performances for local clubs and the national teams."
Kakamega Homeboyz coach John Baraza reckons sustained efforts to empower local coaches augur well for the country.
“Coaches are important stakeholders in our top-flight leagues and we need to meet frequently to share ideas or suggest solutions to existing problems,” he said.
"Notably, the federation's unwavering campaign appears to be bearing fruit with active players also joining the growing list of those pursuing coaching courses in the country."
Suleiman Osman, assistant captain at Posta Rangers, has encouraged players to pursue coaching courses to create a life after football.
"We should start imitating our European counterparts and begin taking these courses while we are still actively playing so that when the time comes to hang our boots, we already have a clear idea of our next step," Ousman said.
"With the skills I've gained from this course, combined with the skills I've gained from my playing career, I'll be able to effectively develop and nurture my team with the proper knowledge and skills."
Former Bandari player Max Odongo expressed similar sentiments.
"During my time as a player at Western Stima, I got an Achilles tendon injury and when I moved to Bandari, I strained the injury which ended my football career. This was difficult for me because I was a young player and all I knew was football," Odongo said.
Odongo believes that embracing coaching could be one way for retired players to avoid the challenges that await them after they hang up their boots.
On February 26, 2018, Football Kenya Federation launched the first training package, which included a Basic/Advanced coaching course. The course was designed for grassroots coaches who lacked fundamental coaching knowledge.
"The coach education initiative is one of the federation's flagship projects to train create coaches in Basic/Advanced coaching and creating a pool of local coaches with CAF 'C', CAF 'B', and CAF 'A' licences within the next few years," FKF vice president Doris Petra explained.
The coaching courses come as the government ramps up efforts to boost the country's chances of making its first World Cup appearance.
President William Ruto launched a robust campaign late last year to raise Kenyan football to the required levels of competition.
Speaking during the Jamhuri Day celebrations at Nyayo Stadium on December 12, the president explained a detailed plan aimed at developing grassroots football.“As part of this plan, I have accepted to champion a grassroots football development program that will see the national government work with county governments to invest heavily in youth football," Ruto said.
The President revealed that the government will soon start a national competition aimed at bringing out local talents.
“Arrangements are at an advanced stage to launch a Bottom-up football tournament to be contested by under-19 teams from all 47 Counties," Ruto said.
President Ruto reiterated the government's intention to have Kenya in the World Cup shortly.
“This is the first step in our Football Vision 2030 where we target to see Harambee Stars play at the 2030 World Cup and Kenya host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations.
Elite football coaches in the country have already backed the government's plan to unveil a national youth tournament in each of the country's 47 counties
Kimanzi, the former head coach of Harambee Stars, urged the government to put the plan into action as soon as possible.
"We fully support this because we are eager to see and develop new talents. And, in my opinion, this should begin as soon as possible," Kimanzi said.
He believes the program will be successful since there will be coaching graduating with the necessary expertise.
FKF/Fifa Coaching Instructor Beldine Odemba, who led Highway Secondary School to the East Africa School Games finals, agreed with Kimanzi.
"This is good because it will be able to create a pool of youth players who can be scouted to youth national teams, clubs participating in the FKF leagues and in the long run see them advance to the senior level," Odemba said.
"I believe the country is ready for this and with many more coaches developing their capacity to nurture players at the grassroots level, we will be able to achieve our goal."
Twahir Muhidin, another former Harambee Stars coach, praised the government's commitment to developing football in the country.
He too believes that the country's vision will only be realised if the government collaborates closely with FKF in training coaches.
"When the government is enthusiastic about football, the game grows much faster," Muhidin said. "In their first week, this government ended our international exile and now, this inter-county system."
Their statements come even as Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba organised a tournament during the festive season in what appeared to be a pilot project for the 'bottom-up' tournament.
While presenting the winners with trophies, Namwamba urged coaches from elite clubs to tap and nurture talent from the grassroots too to build a formidable team.
He added that the government is committed to raising football standards in the country.
"The match was played to demonstrate the government's efforts to take a bottom-up approach to revitalise soccer in the country. It is clear that there is great talent at the grassroots level that can be identified, nurtured and exploited to facilitate the empowerment of Kenyan youth in the sporting arena," Namwamba said.
The CS stated that football revival plan is in the works and will involve recruiting talent from the grassroots to form county teams that will compete throughout the year, with finals held on December 12 each year.
This is an effort to ensure Kenya qualifies for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations and, hopefully, host the event in 2027.
"Rebuilding Kenyan football is vital for our 2030 World Cup vision. The planning for a bottom-up football tournament involving U19 teams from all 47 counties is well underway. We will work with all county governors to build a football team from the ward level," he added.
President William Ruto will officially launch the bottom-up tournament early this year, according to the CS.
"I will be the ambassador for a grassroots football development program in which the national government will collaborate with county governments to invest heavily in youth football," Namwamba explained.
Earlier in the year, Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba expressed his desire to see Harambee Stars at the 2030 World Cup.