On a sunny Saturday morning at a football pitch at the Hillcrest International School in Nairobi, an animated Jerim Owuor closely follows action from the touchline as the next crop of Kenya’s football stars battle it out on a pitch.
An overhit pass by one of the children does not draw his ire. Instead, he patiently takes it in stride and urges the little boy to keep going.
Names like Ronaldinho, Messi and Christiano Ronaldo are emblazoned at the back of their jerseys as the over 200 children give it their best as if to match the skills of their football heroes.
Jerim is tolerating what many coaches can hardly take from footballers; from miss-passes to over-dribbling or making dangerous tackles to snuff out an attack.
“It is fun seeing how these children come to experience the ultimate football play,” Jerim tells me after he takes time to correct one of the children who has been substituted.
On the pitch next to an under-13 match, a man in his 40s juggles the ball with a little boy, helping him warm up before the boy joins the rest.
This is a private football-coaching season, where parents drop off their children to learn the sport and perhaps one day turn into professionals.
In Nairobi, there are a growing number of such soccer clubs in estates and country clubs as parents seek outdoor games that help their children master teamwork and confidence from a young age. Also, as estate playing spaces shrink, soccer is turning into a fun outdoor weekend activity for children.
Located at the heart of Karen suburb, the Express Soccer Academy at the Hillcrest International School grounds has been grooming soccer talent since 2013.
Children as young as five years train in the academies, an age-group that Jerim says calls for delicate balancing. For the younger children who get bored easily, Jerim’s challenge is how to keep them excited to so they keep coming and play throughout the three-hour long game.
“I have to ensure they don’t get tired and bored. I make the game enjoyable. For instance, we add warm-up exercises that does not involve kicking the ball, some children drill with one hand as the others play football,” says Jerim, who doubles up as a physiotherapist.
In these soccer clubs, parents pay between Sh6,000 and Sh10,000 for every child per term that coincides with the ordinary school programme. But they are some who pay Sh1,000 every time a child comes to the pitch.
They learn how to control the ball, give passes and hitting the ball the right way (inner foot or out foot). To make it fun, they also organise international trips. Jerim says the trips to Spain, Dubai, Italy, Bulgaria or Netherlands are the biggest motivations as the children get to compete against their peers from other countries.
The trips range from Sh90,000 to Sh300,000 per child for tourneys that last six days of intense soccer and fun.
However, as these academies sprout hoping to turn children into pros, some argue that love for football does not start from organised fields and most professional grew their skills from the streets. In the 80s, football took young boys from their homes, straying to neighbourhoods beyond. There were no secluded playgrounds, and children found adventure, even near rivers.
Caroline Githaiga is one of the parents who wants her son trained from a young age and believes that he will one day join the paid ranks. She has been taking him to the Soccer Talent Academy since 2016.
“He has a passion for football and his wish is to make a career out of it, I am ready to support him in any way possible for him to achieve his dream,” Carol says.
She adds that she is determined to pay for her 11-year-old to join the others on the trips abroad to compete with their peers from elite clubs like Ajax, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United.
Soccer Talent Academy holds sessions every weekend at the Kenya Science Campus off Nairobi’s Ngong Road. The academy under the watch of coach Clyde Aswani trains children between seven and 18 years.
In August, the children will travel to Bulgaria and by the end of the year they will go to Dubai.
Jerim says foreign trips help the youngsters to learn other cultures and football. In June, Express Soccer Academy is taking them to Holland. However, the under-5 and under-7 do not travel abroad for the competitions in line with the rules by the Federation of International Football Association (Fifa).
They also organise friendly matches with local teams. Express Soccer Academy plays with Ligi Ndogo every so often. In the playground, they bond irrespective of backgrounds. When a goal goes in, they jump around and hug each other.
“We make football fun for them, they watch other children play the game and then take part in one-on-one sessions with the coaches,” says Geoffrey Sirima, a physiotherapist-cum-coach at Ligi Ndogo, a club that has 350 children.
The clubs recruit former players as coaches with a majority holding national and international credentials to ensure the budding talents learn soccer the right way.
Ligi Ndogo has female coaches who handle children between five to nine years, to provide a motherly environment.
“Female coaches are fantastic and help the children to learn and improve life skills. They are like second mums,” Geoffrey says.
Another soccer club is Acakoro Academy, which won against a junior side from Barcelona in the annual Donauauencup held in Austria.
“We started this academy in Korogocho to help the children turn away from crime that was so rife. Over time, the games became competitive,” says Rashid Oyao, a coach who trains the under-11.
Acakoro, which has 150 children, does not charge any money and pays tuition fees for them up to college.
Whether these children who love football are going to be pros or not, their passion has sparked a rising demand for boots and socks. Demand for the shoes and socks goes up during the holidays and the children prefer the fancy boots such as Mercurial Superfly Nike boot.
In upmarket stores, the models worn by mega-stars like Messi, Christiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba range from Sh10,000 upwards per pair, underlining a near-obsession among the soccer-mad children.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.