Kenya: Spare Our Talented Youth

By Citizen Team For Citizen Digital

In Summary

  • This week’s decision by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in their Council meeting in Qatar regarding the 2020 Diamond League is not only outrageous but also punitive to Kenyan long-distance runners.
  • Sitting in Doha, which will host the 2019 World Athletics Championships, the council decided that the longest discipline will be the 3000m race.

The event is an annual series of elite track and field athletic competitions. The verdict automatically results in the IAAF striking out 5- and 10-kilometer races from the lucrative event. Sebastian Coe, the federation’s President, attributed these new developments to the need to make the activity friendlier for television viewing.

Early December last year, the same global athletics body made changes to the World Under 20 Championship to be hosted in Nairobi next year.

The council ruled that it had dropped the 10,000 meters race for both men and women from the event’s programme. It went ahead and cancelled the men’s 5000 meters race during the event.

It should not be forgotten that this is the race in which Kenya’s Edward Pingua Zakayo, currently a form three student at Kapsait Athletics Secondary School, won gold during the World Under 20 championship hosted in Tempere, Finland, in July 2018.

The Chairman of Athletics Kenya (AK) Nairobi Branch, Barnabas Korir, came out guns blazing over the IAAF’s decisions terming the moves as ‘retrogressive’.

Most track and field events enthusiasts relate with this feeling given that Kenya has dominated most of the long-distance events for decades. Eliud Kipchoge, Kenya’s legendary marathoner, won the 2003 World 5,000 meters title aged 19.

The Confederation for African Athletics (CAA), headquartered in Senegal, has not pronounced itself on these matters. However, the feeling that the IAAF decisions seem to be targeting Kenya owing to the country’s prowess in long distance races is slowly taking root among many athletics fans.

The country emerged top during the IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland, last year after bagging eleven medals out of which six were gold. This was the fourth time the country was topping the medals table in the competition having accomplished similar feats in Santiago, Beijing and Canada.

In the Finland event last year, Kenya bagged gold medals on the first day from from Rhonex Kipruto in 10,000 meters and Beatrice Chebet in the women’s 5,000 meters races.

Taking a walk down memory lane, specifically focusing on the now cancelled women’s 5000 meters race, the country bagged silver and bronze in the 2006 junior championships in Beijing. Our young, female athletes have continued to dominate that category in subsequent World Under 20 events winning various medals.

Similar excellent performance by Kenyan youth can be observed in the IAAF World Under 20 series for the past slightly more than a decade.

These are talented athletes from some of Kenya’s remotest villages who have been shining glory to the country after which they have continued to excel in subsequent senior categories. Curiously, even the government through its sports ministry has not voiced its concern over the new development despite the country playing host to the event in June next year.

There have been murmurs that the IAAF had initially included the four-kilometer race in cross country championships but went ahead and removed it after it was dominated by Africans. In August 2009 the global athletics governing body introduced bi-annual world cross-country events from the usual annual ones after a decision supported by 132 delegates against 22 was arrived at in Germany.

The reasoning behind this move was to allow continental bodies to also stage their championships. However, avid athletics fans in Kenya argue that the move was part of the wider scheme by the IAAF to curtail Africa’s dominance in the category.

From the look of things, and if the trend continues, there is every likelihood that the IAAF would not hesitate to also strike off marathons from its activities especially if the decision is supported by majority of delegates.

There have been numerous attempts by scientists the world over to unravel the enigma behind Kenyan long-distance runners. So far, no social or medical researcher has made ground-breaking discoveries regarding the performance of our runners; they remain the running mystery!

By striking out some of the major events that promote Kenya’s youthful athletes, the IAAF is simply rendering their talents useless. The net effect of this is a sudden pre-occupation by the youngsters to compete in short races. In the process temptation to engage in vices such as doping will kick in.

Those who will not make it will not only sink deep into depression, but they may also turn into crime and other social ills. Kenya’s economy will suffer the irreparable shock emanating from millions, if not billions, collected in form of taxes from investments made through proceeds of her world-record shattering youths.

Source The Citizen

Senegal: Abdou Diakhate joins Parma on a long-term deal from Fiorentina

By Taiye Taiwo

The Senegal youth international has joined Roberto D’Aversa’s charges until 2023 after finding playing time difficult with La Viola.

Parma have confirmed the signing of Abdou Diakhate on a four-and-a-half-year deal from Fiorentina.

The 20-year-old rose through the ranks at Fiorentina’s academy but never had the chance to make his Serie A bow in Stefano Pioli’s team.

He joins the Crusaders in his quest for regular playing time and he teams up with countryman Yves Baraye and Cote d’Ivoire winger Gervinho.

“Parma Calcio 1913 announces the signing of Abdou Diakhate (Dakar, Senegal, 31 December 1998) from ACF Fiorentina. The player has signed a contract running until 30-06-2023,” read a club statement.

Parma, placed 12th in the Serie A table with 28 points from 22 outings, are five points adrift of a place in the Europa League playoff spot.

Diakhate was an unused substitute at the Stadio Ennio Tardini as Parma bowed 3-2 to SPAL on Sunday.


Seven-year old German-Nigerian girl shines in 10km race

A seven-year-old German-Nigeria born girl, Lorelay Holzendorff, on Saturday took the shine off the other elite athletes when she came 7th with a time of 1:40mins at the second edition of the annual Owan Marathon race.

Holzendorff, a primary four student, told the News Agency of Nigeria, that she had been training as a long distance runner since the age of three.

“I want to be a long distance athlete, and my ambition is to compete at the international long distance in future,” she said.

The elites race, which was dominated by athletes from outside Owan saw the winner of the first Edition, Gabriel Adewale finishing 3rd in the overall position with a time of one hour nine minutes.

NAN reports that this year’s edition was won by Edetanlen Moses with a time of 58 minutes 40 seconds, while Davidson Oluafi came second with a time of one hour two minutes.

Okosun Osamudiamen, who ran a time of one hour five minutes, came third position in the male category of the race.

Similarly, Kingsley Asede won the female category with a time of one hour six minutes, followed closely by Ikerede Peace, one hour 16 minutes and Fidelis Faith, one hour 19 minutes, to finish second and third respectively.

Chairman, Edo State Sports Commission, Mr Godwin Dudu-Orumen, who commended the organisers of the race, said the state government placed high premium on sports.

He said this was why the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium was being renovated while 20 other mini stadia were being built across the 18 Local Government Areas of the state to engage the youth in sporting activities.

The Chairman of Owan West Local Government, Mr Frank Ilaboya, said the council would collaborate with sport organisations who were ready to constructively engage the youth in sporting activities.

“The best way to curb social vices is through engagement, our priority as a council is youth empowerment and we will support anybody wiling to partner us in this direction,’’ he said.

Ilaboya, a seasoned sports writer, urged the athletes not to relent as they had just started a journey that would change their lives positively.

The main organiser of the annual 10km race, Christopher Ojo, promised that the 2020 edition would be better.

Source PUNCH

Nigerians Mikel Obi makes shock return to English club, undergoes medical

Former Chelsea star, John Obi Mikel has undergone a medical at English Championship side, Middlesbrough.

The Super Eagles captain is expected sign a deal with the Championship club.

SunSport reports that the 31-year-old former Chelsea midfielder, travelled from London to the north-east yesterday after agreeing personal terms.

The two-time Premier League player spent the past two years at Tianjin TEDA in the Chinese Super League.
Roma and Wolfsburg also registered an interest in the Nigerian international.

Mikel, however, wanted to return to England, where his wife and two young children are based.
Mikel will be part of a Tony Pulis side looking to bring Premier League football back to the Riverside next season.

Boro currently sit fifth in the Championship table and seven points off leaders Leeds.

Source Dailypost NG

South Africa: Chiefs’ MDC coach calls for youth coaches forum

By Tshepo Ntsoelengoe

The young Amakhosi team coach has helped build the Chiefs reserves, which is competing in the Multi-Choice Diski Challenge and won the inaugural Diski Shield last year.

In order to develop youngsters to their best abilities and growth of football in the country, Kaizer Chiefs reserve team coach Arthur Zwane is proposing a coaches forum that will help all coaches to share ideas and help build development in South Africa.

The young Amakhosi team coach has helped build the Chiefs reserves, which is competing in the Multi-Choice Diski Challenge and won the inaugural Diski Shield last year.

“The minute we start developing players properly the better it will be for the nation. But unfortunately, we don’t see things the same way and we don’t all have the same resources. But if we can sit down and have some kind of a forum for coaches where we just sit down and talk about football,” said Zwane.

“In that manner, we will get to see if we think alike and get to help one another to help build development in the country. It’s not about coaches, it’s about the nation, South Africa.”

Zwane’s Chiefs side is one of the exciting teams to watch in the MDC playing some entertaining football.

Despite their dominance, they have dropped a lot of points this season and Zwane believes this could have been a campaign they would have easily be leading the standings comfortably.

They are currently on seventh place on the log with 18 points after 12 games.

“The dominance you see from us is not something that has started yesterday, we have been working on this for the past five years,” he added.

“Not that I’m disrespecting other teams, but this season was easy for us. We could have easily been on 21 points at the moment.”

Source Citizen

Ghana U-20 team to leave for Niger today ahead of Africa Youth Championship

Ghana’s U-20 national team, the Black Satellites will leave the country on Monday for Niger ahead of the Africa Youth Championship.

The Black Satellites have been in camp for the past three months, where they were engaged in a couple of friendlies.

The team lost their last two preparatory games to Ghana Premier League sides Dreams FC and Hearts of Oak.

However, after Saturday’s defeat to Hearts coach Jimmy Cobblah could be naming his team for the competition today before departing for Niger.

Ghana have been paired with Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso in Group B of the tournament which begins on February 2nd and ends on 17th of the same month.

The former FIFA U-20 champions are eyeing another outing at the mundial but would have to reach the semis to earn a spot in Poland 2019.

The Black Satellites last qualified for the World Cup in 2015 and have since not been able to make an appearance at the global showpiece.

The West African nation remains the only country from Africa to have ever won the World Cup at the U-20 level.

Source Ghanasoccernet

Nigerians and the NFF have a couple of Gunners and Spurs to keep their eyes on


There is a surge in the number of young players of Nigerian descent coming through the ranks at academies across England.

The rivalry between Arsenal and Tottenham runs deep at every level of both clubs; from the U-7 to U-14 and ultimately down to the senior sides.

So when there are no frivolities when these two North London sides meet at any level.

On Tuesday, January 18, it was three Nigerian players Bukayo Saka, Xavier Amaechi and Folarin Balogun who settled the mini-north London derby.

Saka scored Arsenal’s second of the game to level on 2-2 before the young Gunners won the game in extra time.

It was Balogun that assisted Amaechi to put Arsenal ahead in extra-time before the former pounced to finish from inside the six-yard box.

Saka added his second to make it five for Arsenal.

The performances of the three players are timely reminders of the Nigerian-born talents that are coming through the ranks at Arsenal and how excited should we be.

Saka is the most popular of the three, at 17, the forward with a lethal left foot has made headlines this season already after making his debut for the first team.

He has made one Premier League, one FA Cup and two Europa League appearances so far this season under Unai Emery.

He leads a host of players of Nigerian descent who play for the Arsenal youth teams.

Amaechi who was Arsenal U-18s’ most dangerous player on Thursday is also one of them; he joined Arsenal at the age of 12 from Fulham and has moved up the ranks since then. He signed his first professional contract at Arsenal in June 2018.

Balogun joined Arsenal when he was 10, signed as a schoolboy while he was on the verge of joining Tottenham.

Nigerian-born players coming through in England

There is a surge in the number of young players of Nigerian descent coming through the ranks at academies across England due to the saturation of Nigerian immigrants in the region.

It’s a constant theme around youth football in England, a look through their team lists and you would spot Nigerian names.

Tottenham’s U-18s on Thursday night against their Arsenal counterparts was a certain Josh Oluwayemi.

But do Nigeria have a hope of getting these kids to play for them?

Saka is an England youth international already same is Amaechi while the United States, where Balogun was born are already battling for his allegiance.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) will be sure keeping an eye on them but for every Alex Iwobi who was excited with the prospect of playing for Nigeria, there is also a Gabriel Agbonlahor that saw no ties whatsoever with Nigeria and went on to play for England

It’s however still a long way to go for these youngsters who should be focused on just their budding careers and their eyes, for now, are on the route to the Arsenal’s first team.

Source Pulse Nigeria

Nigeria: NPFL and LA LIGA coaching clinic to hold in Abuja


The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) and La Liga are set to hold their annual coaching clinic again in Abuja.

The content of the clinic will, as usual, be framed within a level 3 (professional) syllabus.

As part of their vision to spread their league across the world, La Liga partnered with NPFL and together they have engaged in a series of initiatives including the coaching clinic.

As a follow-up to the success recorded in its first two editions, the third edition of the NPFL-La Liga annual coaching clinic will hold from Monday, January 21 to Friday, 25.

The coaching clinic which is expected to have about 100 youth coaches in attendance will take place at the National Stadium, Abuja.

The annual coaching clinic is designed to train youth coaches on how to properly develop young talents using La Liga methodology.

The content of the clinic will, as usual, be framed within a level 3 (professional) syllabus where coaches will learn more complex and technical aspects of La Liga’s methodology as a continuation of levels 1 (beginner) and 2 (intermediate) training from the first and second editions.

“The first two editions of the clinic were highly successful and we are once again thrilled to have the opportunity to spread the La Liga’s methodology across Nigeria and Africa with the third edition of the clinic,” La Liga Sports Project Coordinator, Juan Zapata said.

“We are committed to each of our projects across Africa, and sending LaLiga coaching instructors to again train the youth coaches in Nigeria aims to further show our commitment to the development of football in the country.”

Source Pulse Nigeria

Kenya’s rugby sevens banking on youth to turn World Series around

By Xinhua

Kenya’s rugby sevens team will for the third time lead a youthful team to the World Series, as senior players stay away amid ongoing contractual disputes.

Head coach Paul Murunga on Wednesday announced a team containing five debutants for the matches at the Hamilton Sevens in New Zealand on January 25 and against Australia’s Sydney Sevens on February 2.

“As the season progresses, more players will be exposed to the international series. We saw a good number do well during the Cape Town Sevens in South Africa and are looking forward to seeing how the new call-ups perform at the Hamilton Sevens and in Sydney,” Murunga said in Nairobi.

The uncapped five are William Reeve, Harold Anduvate, Brian Wandera, Eliakim Kichoi and Mark Wandetto.

There is also a return for Jacob Ojee for the first time since 2015, with Michael Wanjala also coming back into the squad. Veteran Ojee will captain the squad for this Oceania tour, with Wanjala serving as his deputy.

“It’s an honor to captain the Kenya Sevens team,” said Ojee. “It is a huge responsibility but with the current squad, I am confident that we are going to improve on our performance.”

Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) chairman Richard Omwela has offered his support, saying the squad named is the best that is available for the assignment at hand.

“We are fully behind the squad named today by head coach Murunga,” said Omwela.

Among the established players missing from the Oceania tour are Collins Injera, Andrew Amonde, Sammy Oliech, Nelson Oyoo, Jeff Oluoch, Leonard Mugaisi, Dan Sikuta, Dennis Ombachi, Brian Tanga, Eden Agero, Willy Ambaka, Oscar Ouma, Augustine Lugonzo and Billy Odhiambo.

They have all boycotted training and will not sign new contracts unless the terms are improved.

Kenya has endured a troubled start to this season’s World Series, only garnering four points across the first two legs in Dubai and Cape Town, leaving them one position away from the relegation zone in the 16-team leaderboard.

The 2018/19 Sevens Series will form part of the qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, with the top four sides securing automatic qualification to the Games.

An additional six teams will qualify through the men’s and women’s World Rugby continental Olympic qualification tournaments, while a final opportunity for Olympic qualification will come at the World Rugby Olympic Repechage tournament.

Source Xinhua

KCCA youth academy coach impressed with Uganda Cubs

Uganda Under-17 (Cubs) head coach Jackson Magera has expressed his delight with his team’s eagerness to learn during training sessions.

Magera, also one of the coaches at KCCA’s soccer academy, was appointed a couple of weeks ago as one of the coaches of the Cubs and has been with them for over nine days.

“I have been with them for one week and two days but am happy that they are eager to learn and enjoy new things, the reality of the game and the objective of what we introduce them,” he said.

The newly-appointed coach believes that playing against the senior teams during camp in Njeru has helped the Cubs improve their game and that it will help reduce their fear over time.

“My relationship with them is also good. I think they are ready and we also try to get the fear out of them by playing friendlies with teams above age,” Magera added.

“This will take away the fear and by the time we reach the tournament, they will be very ready.”

Uganda will play at the 2019 U17 Africa Cup of Nations due in Tanzania in April where a place at the Fifa World Cup is in line if they reach the semi-finals.