When it comes to football talents in Nakuru County, Kivumbini and Flamingo estates popularly claim the mantle.
For many years, the two estates have produced a number of football talents who have made to various Leagues and Clubs.
Players such as John Muiruri and David ‘Calabar’ Owino are among the many football talents who trace their roots in Nakuru.
Such talents are a clear indicator that Nakuru is a home of football talents and a great inspiration to many upcoming football talents.
It is for this reason that young AC Manyani Football Club in Manyani Estate of Kivumbini Ward, Nakuru East sub county despite having no field has come up to nurture young football talents.
A visit to Nakuru South Cemetery in Manyani, besides the burial activities taking place,there is a young AC Manyani team undertaking their training.
Under the leadership of Coaches Paul Karori, the team is determined to give birth to new young talents in matters soccer.
He said the idea to form the team came about after he met some youths playing the improvised ball from polythene bags.
They started playing and training at a neighbors’ plot before shifting to Nakuru Primary school playing ground with Karori purchasing one ball for them.
“We started very small with even no playing ground until the Nakuru Primary school allowed us to use their field” said Karori.
According to Karori, through nurturing the team has been able to participate in Nakuru East NG-CDF-sponsored inter-estates tournament where they performed quite well.
The team for the first time went up to the finals emerging number two in the first inter-estates they participated in making away with Ksh.5, 000, uniforms and a ball by then.
“I paid their registration fee and they made it through the group stages up to the finals and emerged number two making away with goodies” he stated.
The coach admits the move motivated the young talents but then came a challenge of training ground.
This was occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic that led to the shutdown of schools rendering them with no ground as they were relying on the Nakuru Primary School grounds.
The team ended up at the Nakuru South cemetery where they cleared a part of the cemetery space that is not in use and converted it into their training ground to continue nurturing their talents.
“COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on us. We were barred from entering the school where we used to train and that is how with the help of village elders we ended up here at the cemetery where we now carry on with our training” said Karori.
Such training has seen many youths in Manyani keep off drugs and substance abuse as well as engaging in criminal groupings such as the outlawed confirm group.
Karori worry however is that the south cemetery where they train might not be there for long as the burial site is almost full hence they might be forced out.
His appeal is to well-wishers to step in to support the young football talents achieve their dreams in life.
“I appeal to well-wishers to come on board so that we can support these young football talents. As we talk now we are not sure of this training field because the upper part of the cemetery is almost full and they might shift here” he stated.
Sentiments echoed by Job Okumu-who works closely with coach Karori towards the betterment of the AC Manyani team.
Okumu-a former player with Olympics FC, St.Joseph’s as well as Deliverance Church FC in Nakuru said his move to retire from the ball ushered him into the idea of nurturing talents.
“I felt instead of retiring from football, I rather start nurturing talents in our own area and that is why I joined Paul in this mission to help our youths” said Okumu.
Ronald Echesa-one of the young football talents undertaking training with the team is optimistic that their dream to play for great clubs in the country and abroad shall one day be achieved.
He admitted that since joining AC Manyani in 2015, his life has been transformed with a lot of discipline and focus.
“I hope and I believe this team will assist me achieve my dreams” stated Echesa.
Ms Beatrice Achieng’ who helps nurture the female talents in the area stated that the training is key to avert the youths engaging in drugs and substance abuse.
She said the girls are training with the boys to gain experience in matters football and help address the challenges.
“With this training in matters sports our youths will be engaged and won’t think of participating in criminal activities” said Achieng’.