More than 100 children from the Mathare Youth Sports Association (Mysa) on Saturday benefited from a coaching clinic from US-based coaches as part of celebrations to mark the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.
The clinic, sponsored by the US State Department’s Sports Diplomacy programme and the American Embassy in Nairobi in partnership with Moving The Goalposts, was conducted by America’s former national football team player Tony Sanneh and University of Minnesota women’s coach Stefanie Golan. The clinic was conducted at Mysa headquarters in Komarock, Nairobi.
The children were drawn from the 16 Mysa zones which form the Mysa Talent Academy, led by former Harambee Starlets captain Anne Aluoch.
Also in attendance was Mathare United defender James Situma and Harambee Starlets captain Wendy Achieng’ who took the children through passing, dribbling and goalkeeping sessions.
Speaking to Nation Sport at Mysa headquarters in Komarock, Sanneh was impressed by the talented kids, adding that they have what it takes to excel at the top level with the right guidance.
“It’s been a great experience at Mysa since it’s a unique place with a lot of resources and people putting in real effort to help kids realise their dreams through football.
“They have the right attitude and their technique is also good. I played at the highest level and it’s all about discipline, hard work, sacrifice and attitude. I had to give up everything to have a successful career and these are some of the things we’re trying to teach these children at a young age,” said Sanneh, who spent six seasons in the Bundesliga with Hertha Berlin and Nurnberg. Stefanie, who has won three university league titles with Minnesota, emphasized the need for the young girls and boys to excel both on and off the pitch.
“There are a lot of skillful players here at Mysa which has increased the range of activities we had with them. However, it’s important that they know that football can be a vehicle for their education since there are many scholarship opportunities all over the world,” offered Stefanie.
A visibly elated Brandon Murigi, who is part of the Mysa Under-13 team, was grateful to the American Embassy for organising the clinic.
“We have really enjoyed learning from the new coaches, we hope they can come back frequently and hold more sessions with us,” said the 11-year-old winger who idolises Liverpool star Mohammed Salah.
U. S. Embassy representative Kristin Kneedler termed the exercise a success hinting that they will extend the clinics to Kakuma refugee camp.
“We are happy with what we have seen here at MYSA since it has played an important role in the development of football in Kenya. We will offer our support through donations of football equipment and we hope that our program will touch more lives even as we plan our next activity in Kakuma,” said Kneedler.
Aluoch was grateful to the embassy for their massive support to Mysa and the talent academy.
“The children have really enjoyed learning from different coaches, they feel more encouraged and inspired. The academy has had challenges in terms of equipment so the donations are a big boost,” said Aluoch amid a grin.
The Sports Diplomacy programme also held clinics in Kwale this week where more than 300 girls were in attendance.