Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has, on several occasions, stated its plan to have national football team Harambee Stars qualify for 2026 World Cup to be co-hosted by the USA, Canada and Mexico.
A pool of talented Kenyan youngsters spread across Europe and in other developed nations could take Kenya closer to realising this dream.
FKF has started wooing some of these youngsters with the view of convincing them to represent Kenya in the near future but that has met some challenges as most of these youngsters were born to Kenyan parents abroad and are, therefore, citizens of the countries in question.
BORN A FOOTBALLER
One of the youngsters is 12-year-old Brooklyn Mwadime Kazungu, a midfielder in the youth ranks of 2015 English Premier League (EPL) champions Leicester City. His father, George Kazungu, moved to the UK in 2003. Brooklyn was born five years later in 2008, in Milton Keynes.
According to George, Brooklyn’s talent was noticeable from a very young age and a decision was made to help him pursue football professionally.
“Brooklyn has always been active from day one. He would never sit still unless forced too. He always had a ball or something he can kick around from the time he realised he could walk, but he started structured football when was eight years old at Two Mile Ash, a grassroots team in Milton Keynes,” his father told Nation Sport.
“We had a deal between the two of us. I would support him on anything he needed for a year so long as he did his best to get scouted by a professional set up within that time. Within six months, he had been scouted and was training with Tottenham Hotspur, and Reading FC,” he added.
But how did he join Leicester City?
“About three weeks after he started training with Tottenham Hotspur and Reading FC, I got a call from a scout at Leicester City inviting him to a showcase fixture. He played a couple of games, the scout liked what he saw and invited him to play with the shadow squad against the signed academy boys. Afterwards, he got signed on the spot,” George explains.
“He is blessed in a way that he always stands out in anything he does. He has held the record for 100 and 200 metres in inter-school athletics competition for his age in Milton Keynes. He was also scouted by a swimming and an athletics club and he represents his school in rugby and basketball.”
“He has always been more than capable in any sporting activity he is asked to participate in, including football. To me, it was not a matter of talent but rather a decision on which sport would suit him the most, and I am happy we settled on football,” he adds.
Brooklyn might only be 12, but he knows how lucky he is to be in the youth ranks of such a professional side like Leicester City. Stepping up from playing with his peers to professional football at such a young age has had its challenges, but he is determined to work hard and to hopefully break into the senior team in the near future.
”Leicester has been really good. It was very tough at the start as I had to earn the trust of both my coaches and team mates. Thanks to God, I am now a key player and one of the best in my age group,” Brooklyn told Nation Sport.
“I like playing in central midfield or either wing, but I can also play as a striker and as a central attacking midfielder. I like these positions because they allow me to make good use of my skill, pace, strength and trickery on the pitch, but I can also play in defensive positions when called upon by the coach,” Brooklyn says.
“Right now, my focus is to rise up the youth rank at Leicester City, and to hopefully break into the senior team in a few years. God-willing, I see myself as a professional footballer at one of the best teams in the world,” he adds.
Will he feature for Kenya in the near future? He is very active on social and is obviously proud of his roots.
“I do visit Kenya with my family. I like the tropical weather, and the food. The people are friendly and welcoming, and the environment good,” he says.
His father says it will be hard to make a decision when the time comes, but acknowledges it will be a good problem to have since it will mean his son is doing well in his football career.
“We are immensely grateful and thankful to God for his blessing thus far, and may His wish and plans for Brooklyn be done. If we ever get to a point where Brooklyn has to choose which country to play for, that will be a tough headache to deal with but a very good headache to have nevertheless,” he said.
George underscored the importance of having professional youth academies in Kenya.