Lessons from Junior Starlets’ triumph

Wednesday, June 12th, 2024 06:00 | By
Junior Starlets in training ahead of FIFA U17 World Cup women's qualifier against DR Congo. PHOTO/FKF
Junior Starlets in training ahead of FIFA U17 World Cup women's qualifier against DR Congo. PHOTO/FKF

Kenya’s national under-17 girls team, Junior Starlets, are just 90 minutes away from becoming the first Kenyan team to ever qualify for any football World Cup in our sport’s history.

This is no mean feat and with the all-important return leg slated for Sunday at the Ulinzi Sports Complex, it’s almost certain that they will achieve the dream, given that their opponents Burundi need to beat them 4-0 to thwart their chances. The local girls won 3-0 in the first leg of the qualifier played in Ethiopia on Sunday.

Their path to this triumph has been steady and is not a fluke. They knocked out a well-oiled Ethiopian side with an aggregate goal advantage on their way to facing their last hurdle, Burundi, whom they have a sailable advantage over after the first leg, before they embark on preparing for the global showpiece in the Dominican Republic later this year.

This achievement has been a work in progress and indicates that proper preparations and using the youth structures to act as pipelines to successful national teams are not rocket science. Local football enthusiasts can finally breathe a sigh of relief with the belief that Kenya’s football is finally out of the woods and rising, fuelled by the Sports Ministry’s Talanta Hela initiative.

The revival of age-group competitions and the unearthing of promising talent is testimony to the good work being done under the Talanta Hela initiative, which has enabled the ministry to effectively operate and nurture new skills in different sports disciplines nationwide.

Almost 100 percent of the players featured in the schools’ games competitions, Safaricom Chapa Dimba and Talanta Hela competitions, clearly indicating that the youth competitions are the feeders to successful national teams.

The government and Football Kenya Federation must intensify their investment in youth sports in all areas of Kenya to scale the game to greater heights, with the target of building formidable teams that will represent the country in future regional, continental and regional competitions.

The Junior Starlets’ ability is a testimonial on what can be achieved, providing valuable lessons from the experience on picking talent, getting technical expertise and making prosper preparations to compete against the best. Let’s all turn out in large numbers at the Ulinzi Sports Complex on Sunday to witness history unfold.

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