No mention of Kenyan football can ever be complete without delving into the famed Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA).
Founded in 1987 by Bob Munro, the association has literally changed Kenya’s football landscape by producing big names in the country.
Apparently Munro began the organization one afternoon after going to pick her volunteer daughter from school, who was by then teaching at one of the slum schools.
Noticing children playing football in an open space in the poor neighborhood, Munro says he opted to referee the match and the enthusiasm with which the youngsters readily agreed was a motivating factor.
“I had gone to pick my daughter, Mia, then working as a volunteer for Undugu Society and it was then that the idea to referee the match struck me. I never looked back from then on, the Canadian born narrates to Goal.com.
Munro says that he was guided by the desire to give the talented youth a sense of direction so that they could realize something out of their talents.
“Today I feel I have achieved something. Many players have emerged from this organization to become great footballers. It is my joy when the organization changes people’s lives.”
Due to his efforts MYSA, has produced soccer stars not only in the local league but in the in Europe too.
Among the 16 teams in the Kenya’s top flight soccer, it is virtually hard to find a team with no MYSA product. Sofapaka has the veteran defender Edgar Ochieng, goalkeeper Duncan Ochieng amongst others.
In Europe star players such as AJ Auxerre hit man and Harambee Stars skipper Dennis Oliech and midfielder Jamal Mohammed all came through MYSA.
Through its feeder program me and sound management, Mathare United took the league by storm winning the league trophy in 1998 as well as bagging two domestic Cup trophies in 1998 and 2000.They also participated in the Caf-African championship in 2009 where they were eliminated in the first round.
Other continental appearances have been in the Caf-Confederation Cup competitions in 1999 and 2001, where they did not achieve much success bowing out in the first and second round respectively.
Away from continental soccer, MYSA's talent development has not just been limited to producing players. Several coaches in the Kenyan football have also had their careers shaped by the organization.
Among them is current Mathare United tactician Stanley Okumbi, immediate former Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi as well as former Sofapaka tactician Salim Ali.
Ali opines that what the organization has done as far as talent development is concerned should be borrowed by other clubs if good players are to emerge.
“I must agree that Munro has done a fantastic job. It is a challenge to other league clubs to set up youth structures that can act as feeder programmes. By so doing the country will produce more players that can be helpful to the national soccer team.”