The roll out of the Base Titanium Football Tournament in Msambweni Sub-County in Kwale might as well be the launchpad of hundreds of youths who are keen to make a career out of sports.
The tournament set to be an annual event in Kwale incorporating local football teams seeks to provide a platform where local youth talent can be spotted and nurtured.
The move by the biggest mining firm goes a notch higher to comb the area of operation for talents in the villages and bring them to the fore for sharpening.
Local sporting tournaments have always been used as an avenue to net successful sporting personalities and the Base Titanium Tournament is no exception as it might just be the ground for talent managers in Kwale and Coast to scout and spot the next Robert (Boban) Mambo.
The Coast region has always enjoyed special talents producing some of the finest footballers in the likes of Abass Magongo, the great Robert Mambo, former Bandari strike Godfrey Osama, Bandari’s talisman Shaban Kenga, Rama Salim, Patrick Osiako, Evans Orodi, Joshua Oloo among others who started their careers at the Coast.
Veteran Sports journalist, Ernest Ndunda, says a lot of talent from the Coast has gone to waste because there has been lack of goodwill to promote sports at the Coast.
“We have seen a lot of international soccer talents go to waste because of lack of good will to promote sports. In Europe talent is nurtured from a very young age with academies playing a major role to boost the sports sector, however, in Kenya players can only be spotted if tournaments are rolled out,” Said Ndunda.
Another reason he notes that has seen sporting talent at the Coast go to waste has been lack of sponsors noting, a handful of corporates are providing sponsorship for teams.
“At the Coast, the only team that we have playing their trade at the National level at Kenya Premier League is Bandari. We used to have Coast Stars which was a jewel, Congo United and the likes who Borrusia Tembo which for a while showed prospects that the Coast will produce talent, but they all went underground due to lack of sponsorship,” said Ndunda.
Base Titanium Government Relations Superintendent, Ali Masemo said BT has been supporting sports at the grassroots level even though their efforts has been mainly aimed at kiting the teams and providing other training essentials.
“Our support for sports has always been there, but we have felt that as a corporate we need to stretch our support even further. This is why we came up with this tournament. The aim is to provide a platform where the youths can be spotted and their talent nurtured even further,” Said Masemo.
In Kwale the only team that is playing at the national level is SS Assad FC, the Sea Lions of Ukunda which is currently playing in the second tier the National Super League and has been struggling to gain sponsorship to fulfill their matches.
“What we also need is support and sponsorship. SS Assad FC with some sponsorship can effectively compete in the Kenyan National Super League. It is the only team in Kwale County participating in the second tier of the Kenyan league.” Said Shukrani Kuzi of SS Assad.
KFF chair Hamisi Koja said the Base football tournaments are crucial in ensuring that youth talents are nurtured adding that it is also a way of players getting back to the pitch after a period of Covid19 effects.
Kwale government in partnership with Youth and Women for Peace and sustainable development organizations have adopted the use of sports as well as culture and tradition for youths to fight against extremism and radicalization in the region.
So far over 200 youth have been reached in a program that is aimed at putting money in the pockets of youths by empowering them economically through nurturing talents.
Unemployment and the use of drugs among youth have been blamed for the increasing indiscipline cases and sports programs have been able to reduce cases of drug abuse.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission and Samba Sports Youth Agenda are among the organizations that have also been using sports to embrace talent as to propagate co-existence among youth.
In partnership with Base Titanium, Samba Sports has been able to inspire and influence healthier behaviors in young people, mitigating vulnerabilities of young people from within their localities and coloring the world of young people.
Samba CEO, Mohamed Mwachausa said they have continued to support football clubs in Kwale with the aim of ensuring youths shun drug abuse.
“We want to ensure youths continue playing and nurturing their talent as they avoid drug abuse which is rampant in the society. This will also inspire other people across the world to shun drugs and criminality, we have engaged about 800 youths in the last two months through sports,” he said.
Adding “Samba Sports uses sports, fun and games as a mobilizer and a connector with adolescents and youth, and it has been very effective in transforming the fortunes of these young people, since they feel wanted, excited, appreciated and respected. Using sports has made it easy to reach the most at-risk youths, “said Mwachausa.
In July 2020, Samba Sports model was celebrated globally as a case study of resilience through sports, where the UNODC, through National Counter-Terrorism Centre, packaged Samba Sports work as a global trend setter to be emulated, and was featured in an UNODC’s global guide of how the world can prevent violent extremism through sports.
Mwachausa said through the sporting initiative, Samba Sports has created direct employment to upto 30 youth and facilitates mentorship and training opportunities to about 55 youth, who are exposed to learning through doing experiential learning.