Japan football star Keisuke Honda over the weekend launched a grassroots football program that attracted about 100 youngsters at Ligi Ndogo grounds in Nairobi.
The visibly excited players, aged below 15, were taken through their paces by two Japanese coaches as part of this program dubbed the ‘African Dream Soccer’, which was launched at the same venue earlier on in collaboration with Ligi Ndogo Academy.
The five year program is spearheaded by Honda Estilo Limited and will, according to its African regional director Motoki Futamura, seek to identify 600 talented but needy footballers in the next six months.
“These youngsters look determined and very hungry to learn how to play football properly. I have already identified one who could be a very good player,” said coach Shuzo Sakamtoto.
According to Ligi Ndogo chairman Chris Amimo, the process of selecting the most promising youngsters will be conducted on a bi-weekly basis and is expected to last six months.
“This is a project that I am very excited about because I believe it will change the perception of Kenyan football both locally and internationally,” said Amimo.
The plan is for these youngsters to be nurtured and trained by Honda’s technical team over the next five years. Thereafter, the outstanding talents will be absorbed in top flight clubs in Kenya, Japan or Australia where Honda has established other academies and partnerships.
The Japanese footballer also boast of similar programs in Zimbabwe, Uganda and Rwanda.
Honda, 31, is an attacking midfielder currently attached to Mexican top flight side C.F. Pachuca. He shot to fame for his silky skills during his earlier stints at CSKA Moscow in Russia and later on AC Milan in Italy.