By Fredrick Nadulli aka Razor,
It is the dream of every rookie to evolve through the amateur and semi-pro ranks to ultimately hit it big as a full time professional. From the dusty backstreets of Surulere in Lagos, to the crime-infested shanties of Mathare, to the famous favelas in Brazil, massive talent abounds, with talented youth honing their skills and only one thing in their young minds, bettering their lives through sport.
With clear focus, extra hard work, proper guidance and above all, perseverance, a sizeable chunk have made it.
Joining the professional ranks is one thing, staying for the long haul is one hell of another.
KENYAN TOP FLIGHT
Between 2012 and today, current champions Gor Mahia has dominated the local scene like child’s play. Until he left at the start of this season five months ago, hitherto lethal Danny Sserunkuma was hot property in the land. He ran rugged at defenders.
Goalkeepers got down on their knees at his very sight. Club fanatics worshipped the ground he walked on. Gor won back to back titles with him as the lead actor. He had outgrown the Kenyan Premier League, or so many thought.
Then he obtrusively packed his bags and slipped into Tanzania, like many before him, for a pro stint at giants Simba. And so began the Ugandan international’s troubles even before the ink had dried on his lucrative contract.The hype that initially characterised his famous arrival was soon to be engulfed in gloom as the star striker struggled to replicate his Kenyan prowess across the frontier.
Tanzanian tabloids, his erstwhile cheerleaders, soon came down on the centerfoward like a ton of bricks. Finding the net proved elusive, playtime became limited, nagging injuries slowed him down as the stocky frontman grew increasingly frustrated. Soon enough, as expected, rumour mills suggested he wanted out.
Which begs a litany of questions;Are “top” players in the KPL overated?
Danny and a harrowing string of other top talent have all failed to live up to their billing in the somewhat strong and moderate Vodacom Tanzania premier League, inspite of better perks and remuneration.
Do players here have the focus and spine to withstand the rigours of pro football? A good number beat hasty retreats after short sojourns and sneak back into Kenya. Is the Kenyan top flight a so called “comfort zone” where football life is easy?Danny’s return to Gor has certainly brought more questions than answers.
EYE ON THE PRIZE
On the contrary, players plying their trade in other less glamorous leagues arrive in Tanzania and elsewhere in the region and leave lasting impressions. Players of the calibre of Emmanuel Okwi, Wilfred Bolou, Kipre Tche Tche et al have made their mark over the years.
Closer home, Allan Wanga moved to Sudan and is causing massive ripples.There is more to professionalism than just talent. Wannabes in the KPL need to identify their career path and chart a roadmap towards their goal.They need not limit their ambitions to the hype created in the local league.
If top stars like Sserunkuma can fail to make it, what hope is there for aspiring youngsters who look up to such models for inspiration?
N/B The writer is a former Kenyan International