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Gifted youth thrive against odds in Turkana

Thursday February 13 2020

Michael Kai, 16, who did his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations last year and got 221 marks from Alfred Power Primary School in Lodwar, Turkana County, and plays for Kawalase FC, juggles the ball after their  Football Kenya Federation’s Turkana Branch League match against Mapro FC at Kenya Medical Training College grounds in Lodwar, Turkana County on January 19, 2020. The teams drew 0-0. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Michael Kai, 16, who did his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations last year and got 221 marks from Alfred Power Primary School in Lodwar, Turkana County, and plays for Kawalase FC, juggles the ball after their Football Kenya Federation’s Turkana Branch League match against Mapro FC at Kenya Medical Training College grounds in Lodwar, Turkana County on January 19, 2020. The teams drew 0-0. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SAMMY LUTTA
By SAMMY LUTTA
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Turkana County has for years been associated with bad publicity because of drought, floods, banditry and poverty.

Little is known about individuals who have come out to nurture sports talents in the arid and semi-arid region whose temperatures sometimes hits 40 degrees celsius on a bad day.

Recently, during the Athletics Kenya North Rift Regional Cross Country Championships, athletes competed very early in the morning and late in the evening due to high temperatures.

The same applies to footballers who wait until late in the evening to start training for various assignments.

Lack of support from both the national and county government has seen the talent of many youth dimmed.

For instance, Hillside Football Club and Earthmovers Football Club who last year were participating in the Football Kenya Federation's National Division Two's Western Zone League opted out because of lack of money to travel for away matches.

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Now only Kakuma United is left to represent Turkana County in the Division Two Western Zone League.

In the county league, Kawalase is currently at position five out of 14 teams. The team has played six games, won three, drawn one match and lost two.

Behind the success of the team that is composed of youth from Kawalase village within Lodwar Municipality is Adams Ewoton, 24.

Nation Sport caught up with him when his team was playing Mapros 04 on Sunday evening at Kawalase playing field which is surrounded by hills.

The match that ended in a barren draw was well-attended by youth and students from the nearby Kenya Medical Training College Campus.

PICKED INJURY

One interesting thing about Ewoton is that he became coach after picking up an injury while playing in Norway and has been supervising the boys as they play.

He started playing football while at Nairobi Primary School in Moi Airbase and later joined secondary school football powerhouse Kakamega High School in Western Kenya.

At Kakamega High, Ewoton represented the school at East African Games where it was eliminated at third play-offs. Ewoton was the captain when he represented Kenya during the Airtel Rising Stars in Nairobi. Kenya was eliminated at the semi-finals by Botswana.

Coach Adams Ewoton (right) talks to Kawalase FC
Coach Adams Ewoton (right) talks to Kawalase FC players after their Football Kenya Federation’s Turkana Branch League match against Mapro FC, at Kenya Medical Training College grounds in Lodwar, Turkana County on January 19, 2020. The teams drew 0-0. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

He joined Brumnddal (Norway 3rd Division Avdeling 1) on loan in 2017 from Talanta Football Club where he was injured while playing at a Norway local league.

"I saw no need of idling while recuperating. Last year, I started supporting my village club with balls, uniforms and quality training.

“I realised that when I came home, many youths were visiting me with an urge to hear how I successfully represented the country to a point where I participated in a foreign league." Ewoton said.

He said that youth have a passion and potential to make it in football and what they need is a little support and someone to guide them.

"My dream is to see my village team play in the Kenyan Premier League and participate in continental games. I dream of becoming the coach of the national football team Harambee Stars one day,” he said.

Ewoton said some of the challenges youth face include poor playing grounds that are rocky. As a result, many players are injured because they play barefoot.

"We need talent centres at the grassroots. My prayer is for Football Kenya Federation to help set up football academies in counties because in Turkana we don’t have any,” Ewoton said.

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