The stories of Kenya’s wasted football talent are many. Even for those who stay in the game, many do not achieve their full potential. You see them in KPL; a player who was beyond his teen age in talent cannot explain where his mojo went to in his early twenties. These are players who attracted media attention and interest from foreign clubs only for them to lose their form and fail to recover.
There are many negative things in Kenyan football; substandard coaching, poor playing surface and training facilities to name a few. These negatives mean that for a player to make it, he must overcome internal (personal) hurdles and other external factors. Yet we keep losing great talents everyday to the same things that destroyed talent several years ago.
With emphasis on football, but these reasons may cut across other sports, I take a look a look at the four top killers of sports talent in Kenya.
Kenya as a society we love cheap thrills. Our appetite for quick fix solutions lead most of us to go for cheap drugs for a quick high. The two drugs that are easily accessible and affordable to football players are miraa (khat) especially the mogoka version of it and bhang also known as weed.
David Munyasia one time Kenyan medal prospect in boxing was turned away from 2004 Athens Olympics for failing a doping test. When the matter was exposed, it turned out that what cost him was cathine, a compound found in miraa. Then Philip Opiyo was signed up by South African club Umtata Bush Bucks and a few months into the 2004-2005 season he failed a drug test for bhang. His contract was terminated and he came back and joined local clubs.
The two drugs are stimulants; though miraa tends to rob consumers of sleep and appetite, two things that are essential for building strong muscles. Bhang on the other hand enhances performance. Their effects are subtle and by the time it shows, it is too late.
Football is an art; where the coach becomes the choreographer and players artists. Artists are revered people and even the good book says your talents will take you before kings. A first team slot in any team comes with media exposure and a celebrity status that must be managed well.
Most players let this new buzz about their abilities get into their head and soon they try to live a life beyond their means. Slowly, they lose concentration and start to dip in form. This is when the coach a player respected a while back starts to look like he doesn't know what he is doing.
The ladies will forever die for a well trimmed body and a muscular physique. It is common knowledge that football players are ladies magnet. The moment one starts to indulge in uncontrolled sex, is the moment his football skills start to deteriorate.
Sex has its benefits, but like many things it serves one best when taken in moderation because it can lead to addiction. Even when it is readily available, sex takes time and money to prepare for it and it needs good time of rest after it. If a player does not watch out on this end, his football will pay for his indulgence.
All the factors mentioned above boil down to discipline or the lack of it. Sooner or later a player will start to come late for training. When his dip in form or lack of commitment is questioned, the problem becomes the questioning authority.
As long as a player will not exercise delayed gratification, the net effect is dwindling in form and a possible end in career. There is no substitute for hard work, when you see Victor Mugubi against Steve Gerald, it looks classy and beautiful. What you will not see is the sweat, blood and may be tears that Mugubi went through to reach where he is today.
It is also prudent that clubs engage the services of chaplains or counsellors (like the Brazillian national team) to look out for the first signs of trouble in a players life. This may go a long way in salvaging many careers for the good of the game, and the good of Kenya.
©STUTTISTICS MEDIA 25th Feb 2014