- Stanley Okumbi, former Harambee Stars’ coach, who is currently in charge of the national U-16 team, says having the youth leagues is the future of local football.
“We tend to focus a lot on the senior national teams and even Premier Leagues but the future is with the youth,’’ he said.
“It is only through the youth structures that we can begin to build our football. This is the future if we stay on this road, we will see some good progress in the coming years,” he added.
Okumbi said he believes qualification to the 2026 World Cup remains possible with the current cohort of players. According to the chair of the youth committee, Chris Amimo, it’s not just by fluke that this will happen.
“Already, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) is putting in place measures to ensure this happens. The first step was the establishment of the Under-13 and Under-15 leagues through-out the country,” he explained, noting that they are further paying more attention to age-group national teams.
“This is the way to go if we want to play in the 2026 World Cup. Previously, we did not have a way of identifying good players until it was too late. But today, the U-13 and U-15 leagues give an opportunity to do that. The advantage of it is that once we identify a player at that age, they can’t change as they are captured in our systems,” he says.
He said this helps to deal with rampant age-cheating in local football. He said the elite initiative established by the federation, is meant to be a conveyor belt for constant production of talent.
“It is a pilot project which we came up after picking the players from different regions in the country,” he added.