FKF to use U13 championships for Southampton Cup selection

FKF President, Nick Mwendwa, poses with a ball before delivering the State of Football in ...
FKF President, Nick Mwendwa, poses with a ball before delivering the State of Football in Nairobi on Sunday, February 20, 2016. Photo/Sport Picha

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) will use the national Under 13 championships to select the final squad that will represent the country during the 2017 edition of the Southampton Cup slated for August 5-13.

The youth competition will kick off on April 8-9 with kids across the country expected to compete at the sub-branch, inter-sub branch and the inter-regional level where outstanding players will be selected to form the national team.

A team of qualified coaches will be tasked with the selection of players at the lower levels while the federation’s technical department will take over the selection process during the national championships that will be held on April 22-23.

This year’s edition will feature 1337 clubs and 16,789 players from across the country drawn from the FKF’s 43 sub branches.

Speaking during the launch of the youth tournament at the FIFA Goal Project, FKF President Nick Mwendwa said the youth competition was in line with his election manifesto.

“Remember during my campaigns I pledged to go the grassroots, work from down going up and we spoke about what we can do nationally to unleash the talent as well as our potential .

“There has been a lot of working being done behind the scenes to make this a success and I can openly tell you that these kids will form a foundation of what we want to do as a federation,” he said.

Notably, the absence of North Eastern and Eastern regions in last year’s FKF U-13 League has cost them a place in this year’s edition.

“Nyanza, Nairobi, Rift Valley, Coast, Central and Western Region will take part. The under 13 leagues in the two regions that will not be represented were not going on last year. We hope they will step in soon to breach that gap so that next year they can be given a chance to compete,” Mwendwa stated.

He added that all players would be issued with a unique license card containing all their details.

According to Mwendwa that particular card would not only help the federation curb age cheating in the next seven years but also enable youth clubs receive their solidarity payments and training compensations as required whenever players moved to bigger clubs.

“This is of utmost importance as it means that henceforth as a federation we’ve got a national database of all these players. Each time a player is transferring we have always been asked to come up with passports stating clubs they played for since the age of 12.

“Look at the case of Michael Olunga who made a big move to China and many of the teams he played for at an earlier age reaped big. With the licensing we are giving indicating birth dates and clubs played for this will be a lot easier now,” he declared.

The youth competition will be conducted annually in the month of April and will be solely sponsored by FKF in the meantime.

At the same time, Mwendwa revealed that Harambee Stars are targetting a rank higher than 70th in world FIFA rankings as they aim to meet the threshold for direct player transfers to the United Kingdom.

The Stars, on the back of a 10-match unbeaten streak, rose 10 places into 78th in the latest global rankings with their latest impressive display coming in their 2-1 win over DR Congo last month.

“You can now see the fruits of doing good work repeatedly. Playing high-profile teams has greatly helped us as a team and shown that we do believe in ourselves .It has also bolstered the technical bench and you can see that they have a better understanding of what they are doing,” he added.

However, he lamented the government’s decision to impose a 50 percent cut in revenue on all the betting companies in the country.

“We have engaged with the national government telling them that this will largely affect football. In the coming days expect the issue to be looked into more,” he underscored.

Harambee Stars CAF Africa Home Nations Championships (Chan) team that was named earlier on Friday is expected to pitch camp at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos Stadium next week as they prepare to face Malawi in another friendly match on April 18.

-Report by Mwangi Githinji.

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