Safaricom Next Generation program gives young female footballers the opportunity to grow their skills

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MPD Academies Coaches Taiwo Opesan, Mathew Arabia, James Muigai and Simon Youd with MPD Academies Director Terry O’Neill watch Zhoreen Malik as she shows her football skills. Image from http://www.coastweek.com/3912-sports-07.htm

75 young talented footballers were unveiled last week at The Safaricom Next Generation program. The program is a partnership with My Professional Dreams Academy (MPD). The youngsters passed the trials to join the (MPD) Academy which is a football talent programme designed to identify and nurture football talent. The girls and boys were chosen from different counties all over Kenya.

The 75 children who are between the ages 11-16 happily marched down the stairs in the Hillcrest amphitheater as their parents looked at them with pride. What surprised me was the many girls in the team. I hadn’t realized as they all had the same uniform; there was no pink or purple anywhere to show the difference, they were simply all one.

After revealing the top 75 new players there were two players that had special skills who were called on to showcase their skills. Kenya has a female football team that we hardly hear about. They are hardly recognized and are not given as much attention as the male team. So far we have one main team known as Harambee stars starlets. Though they have won several matches they will still not have the opportunity that these young girls will get in MPD academy.

MPD Academies Coaches Taiwo Opesan, Mathew Arabia, James Muigai and Simon Youd with MPD Academies Director Terry O’Neill watch Zhoreen Malik as she shows her football skills. Image from http://www.coastweek.com/3912-sports-07.htm
MPD Academies Coaches Taiwo Opesan, Mathew Arabia, James Muigai and Simon Youd with MPD Academies Director Terry O’Neill watch Zhoreen Malik as she shows her football skills. Image from http://www.coastweek.com/3912-sports-07.htm

I am not a football fan per say, but what the young girl and boy did with the football amazed me. If you have ever watched the famous Christiano Ronaldo confuse audiences with his amazing football tricks then you would have seen the future female Christian Ronaldo right here in Kenya. She kicked the ball up and down on the podium. She almost danced with the ball. This was highly impressive and led me to think of all the girls in the football team from all walks of life that were given the same equal opportunity as other boys. The following points are advantages that I came up with.

1. Develop talent: Many girls have been pushed into pursuing arts and now are pursuing science based careers such as medicine, biochemistry and engineering; sports has never been big. There has often been stigma when it comes to female footballers particularly in African countries yet so many girls have the talent that is ignored. With MPD, girls will finally have the opportunity to follow their dreams and nurture their God given talents. This will give them the chance to perhaps make a living out of it later on.

2. Teamwork: While in MPD they need to enhance their teamwork skills. These skills will be useful later on in life when they will portray leadership skills that they will have learnt in the academy.

3. Build Self-esteem: Girls often have so many transitions that they go through such adolescence. With MPD where there is equality between both girls and boys, girls will have goals from such a young age that they will be proud of and will prove to themselves that there is nothing they cannot do.

4. Have the chance to go to represent Kenya: We hardly hear about girl’s football teams but hear about volley ball and softball. This program will allow girls a chance to shine in football and has opened a new platform that will allow girls to represent Kenya in the National team and major competitions. This means that when these girls are of age and are ready to play beyond the academy.

This is a great opportunity for these young girls to gain talents, confidence and be able to follow their passion for playing football. I believe that these girls will be the next generation of Kenya Team players. I tend to think these new MPD girls will shine brighter than diamonds and will represent us well when the time comes.

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