Since 1902

By Oscar Pilipili


Sakata Ball Challenge graduates have another stage to nurture and expose their football after a tripartite partnership deal signed by United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), Safaricom and the Government in Nairobi.

The partnership will see 36 of the best footballers, both boys and girls, picked from Sakata Ball Challenge admitted into Unicef-sponsored National Youth Talent Academy (NYTA) for a

six months professional training and coaching.

The players will go through intensified football training from highly qualified coaches for further development and exposure to the international market.

Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore said the ultimate goal of the agreement is to help the youth realise their full potential and make a decent living out of their talent.

“This is a special Memorandum of Understanding that is meant to give young players chance to further develop their talent at NYTA,” Collymore informed a gathering that included legendary goalkeeper Mohamoud Abass, Joe Kadenge, Aggrey Lukoye and Ricky Solomon.

Sakata Ball is a Safaricom property aimed at creating a platform through which local football talent can be unearthed and showcased to the national and international audience.

The signing ceremony was presided by Collymore, Unicef-Kenya Deputy County Representative Juan Ortiz and

Sports Assistant Minister Kabando wa Kabando on Tuesday.

Kabando said the Government appreciates efforts by Safaricom towards development of sports.

 “Your assistance in football will help Kenya regain its past glory,” Kabando said during the function on Tuesday.

Ortiz stated that both Sakata Ball Challenge and NYTA play crucial role in not only keeping youngsters occupied but developing talents for the future.

Unicef has been part of the Safaricom Sakata Ball 2011 since its launch in February and NYTA coaches have attended all regional tournaments, scouting for talent to join the academy.

Among success stories that immediately come to mind whenever NYTA is mentioned include Abdulmalik Mohammed formerly of Taqwa who proceeded to play for national under-20 and Harambee Stars before he joined Gor Mahia.

He is currently undergoing trials in United Arabs Emirates.

Other players who have gone through the mentorship of NYTA are: Victor Okumu and George Nzenze both of Nairobi City Stars, Musa Bashir (Kenya Commercial Bank), John Nairuka (Thika United) and Hamisi Mwalimu (Bandari).

Former international Edward Karanja who handles coaching programme alongside Bob Oyugi at NYTA said they have identified 180 talented players out of Sakata Ball Challenge with the view of admitting them to the NYTA.

He said: “We’ve already identified 180 players who will undergo intensive trials and successful 22 boys and 30 girls will then join the academy.”