Kenyan football needs bright minds like Taiwo Atieno

Harambee Stars players train at Kasarani

Harambee Stars captain Musa Otieno (left) leads Taiwo Atieno, Victor Wanyama and Pascal Ochieng in a training session at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in this undated file photo. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Taiwo, who represented Kenya in 2009/2010 World Cup qualifiers before retiring from active football in 2013, is out to nurture talent and uplift professional football clubs in Kenya
  • Taiwo, who was flanked by KPL Chief Executive Officer Jack Oguda, pledged to apply his experience in his new role as the Commercial Director of Kenyan Premier League (KPL) to assist local clubs in establishing funding
  • Under this arrangement, KPL in collaboration with other stakeholders will organise youth football tournaments

I was impressed by former Harambee Stars and Luton Town FC striker Taiwo Atieno when I attended his press conference at Serena Hotel in Nairobi a few days ago.

Taiwo, who represented Kenya in 2009/2010 World Cup qualifiers before retiring from active football in 2013, is out to nurture talent and uplift professional football clubs in Kenya.

From his speech, the 36-year-old who played professional football from 15 years in England and USA convinced me that he has much insight into what is needed to improve the game in Kenya.

Taiwo, who was flanked by KPL Chief Executive Officer Jack Oguda, pledged to apply his experience in his new role as the Commercial Director of Kenyan Premier League (KPL) to assist local clubs in establishing funding.

His main role will be to raise investment for construction of new youth training and development facilities and assist Kenya KPL and member clubs in establishing funding.

In his plans, Taiwo is determined to help clubs embrace best corporate governance and football business strategy, rebuild market confidence in member club’s goods and services, ensure market-fit products and service and maximise commercial revenue for KPL.

Just like in English leagues, success of any nation depends on the youth and private sector should play a larger part in investing and shaping the brand of Kenyan football.

He said KPL has agreed to focus on youth development within the professional club set-up and also work with the small clubs to build football academies and programs within their communities.

He added, clubs should start developing players from a very early age and apply abroad system of education for young people to develop throughout their time with the club. All over the world this has been the best practice for most successful football teams with a lot of attention on the non-sporting part of players’ development. In most cases where clubs do not have strong academy they can have partnership with other academies to help create a pool of talented young players.

He promised to work with member professional clubs to build strategic plans with a strong emphasis on Youth Training and Development in Kenya and East Africa.

He will identify and implement new business opportunities like multi-sports division for KPL members clubs such as futsal, basketball and volleyball under the same brand e.g. Barcelona Football Club which has basketball team among other sports. This model will get more young people playing sports, he further said.

Taiwo also promised to implement KPL Community Strategy, which will focus on using the reach and appeal of the KPL and member clubs to inspire children and young people (from five years to 25 years) to realise their potential.

His key objectives include building stronger communities where everyone can achieve, enhancing physical and mental wellbeing, develop personal skills and positive relationships and increase sporting, educational and employment opportunities.

Under this arrangement, KPL in collaboration with other stakeholders will organise youth football tournaments. The company will also establish a charitable fund and use the appeal of professional football to create positive and lasting sporting, health and education outcomes for children, young people and the wider communities in Kenya and East Africa.

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