Deservedly touted as the country’s best youth team, AFC Leopards have not had it all fleshy in the den as many would think. Something that is increasing becoming harder to believe given the lads ever impressive results.
After the unlucky loss to Mathare United in the December edition of the KPL’s U20 tournament, the Boniface Ambani led boys has since lost just one match, at the hands of a more experienced National Super League (NSL) side Administration Police in the final of the Evans Kidero Cup zonal stage.
The side has recorded an impressive unbeaten run in the seven matches so far in the Nairobi county league. Six of them being straight wins with only a 2-2 draw setback, away to JMJ last month.
Its impressive results that no one can believe what the boys go through day in day out, week in week out just to get themselves ready for the matches. It has become an impossible mission for the Cubs as they try to maintain a consistent training routine, which normally would start on Tuesday up to Friday before the matches over the weekends. Reason to this??.....plainly put, zero support from the management.
AFC Leopards management sadly has abandoned the team, according to what fourfourtwomedia is gathering. The boys have for lack of a better word been neglected and completely taken for granted by the Ingwe management. The team is poorly kitted, with no training equipment, no certain training grounds just to mention a few of the most important things. This is despite the impressive results that they get in week on end. It’s very ironic that this very same junior side that the management has decide to a ‘deadbeat dad’ on, has supplied over five juniors to the senior side in the names of Harun Nyakha, Edwin Mukolwe, Bruno Kiyai, Marsellas Ingotsi, Jackson Juma and Vincent Oburu. Lads who have continued to impress with the senior side, in fact it was Oburu’s strike against Yanga that eventually put leopards to the finals of the SportPesa super cup. But inspite of all this a myopic Leopards management has failed to commit to the youth side as would be expected.
Trouble started in December, the last edition of the KPL u20 championships. After the final which Boniface Ambani’s chaps lost to Mathare United, Leopards management went missing from the camp Toyoyo grounds leaving the tired worn out finalists stranded for over an hour with no Leopards official in sight. Were it not for their ever kind hearted and generous ‘dad’, coach Ambani who had to drive to the Point mall, Buruburu to withdraw money from his personal account just so that the boys could have some fare home.
Someone would think this was just an isolated case and that there would be concrete reason behind it, but no….no explanation and no apology to the youth team, just hollow sounding assurances that such a thing would never happen again.
Fast track to early this year, the team had to change training grounds from the normal RTI grounds over unpaid dues. The training was changed to Marist University, Karen where the junior side would share the training ground with the senior side.
This was a temporary solution to a permanent problem, this became apparent as soon as the senior side changed its training ground to Limuru. Transport to Marist became a night mare for the junior side as the Leopards management couldn’t cater for their transport from the CBD to Karen, occasionally missing training because of lack of fare.
In February, Coach Boniface Ambani had to suspend training for the youth side, for over a month due to lack of transport money for the team to Karen. The team would resume training at the RTI grounds in April just before the kickoff of the Nairobi county league.
This was such a reprieve to the cubs little did they know their training ground problem wasn’t yet over. Since returning to the south b grounds, the team has had it really rough never, the boys have had inconsistent training sessions, occasionally being locked out of the grounds due to unpaid dues. The Leopards management have resulted to a very embarrassing tactic of ‘train as you pay’ which has proved very unconducive for the boys as they are only allowed into the grounds upon production of a receipt, which is a daily affair
Aside from the failure by the Leopards management to fully cater for the team’s training grounds, the management has since cut off a 3000/- monthly transport allowance for the team, the last coming in October last year. The team is using dilapidated training equipment, substandard balls, the team is poorly kitted someone just needs to access the junior side’s training session to sympathize with the boys.
Leopards management really needs to do something, this is the best team in the country’s youth ranks and their unbeaten run so far says it all. Seriously Dan Mule and co are taking this team for granted, someone somewhere needs to come through for these passionate and talented boys. But until then all Ambani and his boys can do is hope for a better tomorrow.
Serious teams like Mathare united and Tusker Fc have well kitted youth sides, permanent training grounds, better equipment and for a serious team like Gor Mahia, has even secured sponsorship for their junior side. AFC Leopards management should really learn, change and really start treating this boys like they deserve at least give them the support they’ve earned.