Aldrine Kibet: From Baringo to the world

St Anthony's Boys footballer Aldrine Kibet (centre) with his father Christopher Kibet and mother Irine Kwalia at Standard Media Group headquarters along Mombasa Road. [Clint Otieno, Standard]

Without a doubt, Aldrine Kibet is the new kid on the block thanks to his mastery of the ball and dazzling skills on the pitch.

The exquisite skills that Kibet showcases in the field are a mixture of football in his veins and the training he receives. This is evident as has scored a record 25 goals and produced 27 assists for St Anthony's Boys Kitale in school games this season.

The 16-year-old attacking midfielder is one of the reasons why St Anthony's Boys Kitale clinched their record sixth national title at the Kenya Secondary School Sports Association (KSSSA) games in Kakamega last month.

The Spain-bound star bagged a brace as Solidarity Boys saw off 2019 finalists Dagoretti High School 2-0 at Bukhungu Stadium. He was a joy to watch attracting admiration from both his fans and rivals.

Kibet, who idolises Argentine legend Lionel Messi and supports Arsenal, is set to fly to Barcelona later this month together with his captain Amos Wanjala and Alvin KIbet to join Nastic Sports Academy on scholarship.

In a remarkable display of talent and determination, Kibet's heroics began in the semi-finals, where the young prodigy showcased nerves of steel by netting the crucial goal that propelled St. Anthony's Boys Kitale into the finals. His goal helped the team win 1-0 against Shanderema.

With a blend of skill, tenacity, and vision that belied his age, Kibet was a force to be reckoned with. His presence instilled confidence in his teammates, and his ability to turn the tide of a match made him the nucleus of St. Anthony's attacking prowess.

His performance didn't go unnoticed as he was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament as well as the top scorer with five goals.

Though he didn't live up to expectations at the recently concluded Federation of East Africa Secondary Schools Sports Associations (FEASSA) games in Huye, Rwanda as Peter Mayoyo's side failed to go past the group stages, Kibet feels they gave their best.

While in Rwanda, Solidarity Boys played against five teams including their rivals Shanderema Boys and Uganda's Amus College School.

And for Kibet, Amus were his toughest opponents due to their physicality and experience.

"Out of all the five, the match against Amus College was the most challenging since they are a good team with players older than us meaning they have more experience," Kibet told Standard Sports in an interview yesterday.

But his best moment in this year's KSSSA games was when he scored a brace not only to inspire Solidarity to title triumph but also to avenge their group match defeat to the Nairobi region champions.

"We lost as a team in the group match to Dagoretti but also exacted revenge as a unit in the final. It's one of my best games this season. I was more than relieved to score in the final and help my team win. This was the reward of our hard work," said Kibet.

"Of course, we had met earlier in the group stage where they beat us one nil. When we met for the finals, we showed up with enough motivation to work extra hard in order to snatch the cup.

"The secret about our team is that all the players are versatile and any player can play anywhere depending on formation."

For Kibet, a school that supported talent was his dream secondary school while his parents hoped to take him to a school that valued education. St. Anthony's merged the two dreams as it highly supports talent and as Kibet puts it, "it puts more emphasis on education than talent."

"After I have achieved what I want to do, I hope to come back to the community and start basic training programs as well as bring scouts from abroad who can sponsor talented players," said Kibet.

But his mother, Irene Kwalia, remains his number one fan and motivator as she never misses any match.

"I would like to appreciate my mother, she has always been there for me both during and after the matches. Her presence has been motivational, every time I turn to the fans and see her I push myself further," said Kibet. Before joining his dream school, Kibet studied at Mama Ngina Primary School located in Nakuru after transferring from Baringo.

The exquisite skills that Kibet showcases in the field are a mixture of football in his veins and the training he receives. During his first-ever game at Kenyatta Stadium, Kitale, Kibet proved his worthiness by scoring a double. But his father Christopher Kibet and his mother Irene Kwalia, are not surprised by Aldrine's development and progress as he fell in love with football at the tender age of six years.

"As parents, we decided to support him. We provided him with balls, boots, and playing kits. We also took him to several tournaments and we continued mentoring," said Christopher Kibet,

"His first coach is his father. He even taught him to use the left foot. People think he is left-footed but it is because his father taught him how to play with two feet," said his mother, Irene Kwalia.

Eldama Ravine Member of Parliament Moses Sirma was full of praise for the youngster for making the constituency proud.

"The one strike that Kibet achieved has captured the attention of the world but to him, that one strike was already a personal satisfaction. We are used to seeing football talents come from Western Kenya but now, Kibet has placed Baringo in the spotlight," said Sirma.

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