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Some of the action at the Muslim Primary School Grounds

Does that name mean anything to you? It may not or you  may have never heard about it. But this is just what the soccer authorities in the the country, the Youth Ministries in both the national and county governments should borrow a leaf from.

Organised and solely ran by young men in their early twenties, THIKA YOUTH TALENT ASSOCIATION (TYTA) is a football academy and the only one of its kind based in Thika Town that helps to nurture football talents in children in the age bracket of 08 -17 years, mentoring and making sure that the underutilized talent is brought to action. In this way, they help keep these kids away from bad company and dangerous habits, unite the youth during the holidays season, reduce drugs and alcohol abuse and revive the game spirit in the community which is currently dying.

The group organizes tournaments especially during the school holidays to help tap talent and maximise the kids' potential in soccer. Now in its fourth year, the academy has successfully managed to organise 12 tournaments, featuring children from Thika Town, Kiandutu Slums, Kiganjo, Kamenu, Gatuanyaga and Gatunyu in Gatanga District of Murang'a County.

The association is ran by Joseph Karanja who works out the nitty gritty of sourcing for funding and the general logistics of the tournaments, Peter Muinde (Coach), Joseph Kiaritha (Coach) and a Kimani who acts as the Technical Director. The most amazing part is that these are young boys aged about 23 years and have been doing all the organization all by themselves. They manage the logistics and the prizes to the winners without the assistance of any adult or organisation.
Teams are invited through letters which are handwritten and delivered in a very casual and simple manner. The teams register for the tournament by contributing Ksh.350 only, which the organizers use to acquire medals and certificates for the participants. The host team makes arrangements to acquire a trophy which the eventual winners go home with after a week's tournament. Each team is provided a set of playing kits of different colours, which the association acquired from a certain politician during the 2013 campaigns for the General elections.
During the school days, the teams practice in their own localities during the weekends in preparation for the tournaments which are usually organised during the holidays.
However, their situation is not as rosy as it may seem. These young talents persevere a myriad of challenges to achieve their goal. In fact, it is by God's grace that they have managed to go this far. Their appeals to well-wishers and companies to sponsor their course is usually a hard nut to crack. Most companies are unwilling to invest this money into this noble course due to the lack of youth programmes in the country. Secondly, though they have been registered with FKF as a soccer academy, the football body does not have any concrete programme for such entities. This leaves them to do their thing their own way. Noone has taken the initiative to take up their matter to the relevant youth ministries of both county and national governments.
During the days of the tournament, these kids have to organise  for their own fare to and back home, their own lunch and any other essentials. The teams do not have any professional doctor to take care of any injuries in case they occurred. They also have a challenge in the acquisition of playgrounds since they have to rely on the ones that are not in use. Whenever any other people rented these grounds, these kids are left with no other alternative but reschedule their programme.
Their humble appeal is to any person, organisation, company and well wishers who would come into their aid to help them realise their dreams. They believe that the future of Kenyan football lies in their hands. this can never be possible if no one sees them through this difficult part of their career. They are also appealing to anyone who can broadcast their tournaments 'live' on radio or television would be doing this country a lot of justice. Any form of assistance will be highly appreciated.
As we went to press this afternoon, The teams were very busy competing in their 3rd edition of 2015 at the Thika Primary Grounds (under 12s), Muslim primary grounds (under 14s & 16s) and the St Patrick's Primary school Grounds (under 10s). This tournament was a very special one since it was in memory of one of their colleagues, Dennis Mwangi Kimani who passed on in June this year. It kicked off on Tuesday 11/8/015. All the participants wore black arm-bands on their left arms as a sign of respect to this dear friend and colleague.

The finals for all these tournaments will be held on Sunday the 16th of August 2015. They plan to do another tournament as from Monday the 17th of this month.

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