The National trials of the Safaricom Next Generation kicked off yesterday at Nyayo stadium. A total of Seventy Five talented young boys and girls between the age of 11 and 16 years are to be selected to join My Professional Dreams Academy (MPD) next year. The Safaricom MPD Next Generation is a football talent search which has visited six regions of Kenya offering trials under the watchful eye of highly regarded and qualified football coaches. The aspiring footballers undertook a series of assessments in search of the regions most talented footballers whereby the most talented were selected to attend the National Finals. From the National Finals, the most gifted players will be selected to become part of MPD (My Professional Dreams) Academies and be recognized as their Next Generation.

MPD Academies is a UK-based academy programme that introduces talented players to professional clubs. It aims to bring talented young athletes to the right place, at the right time, in front of the right people, regardless of their background or social standing. The programme aims to nurture young Kenyan football talent and transform football in the country.

The two-day trials brought together a hundred and eighty young talents who had qualified in the regional trial-outs held in Kisumu, Mombasa, Thika, Nakuru, Kakamega and Nairobi for the last 5 weeks. Speaking during the event, MPD Director Terry O’Neill said the programme has attracted a lot of interest from all parts of the country with thousands of young people coming out to try their luck. “Some of the participants travelled from as far as 800km away to attend the trials. They came from areas such as Lodwar, Bundalang’i, Baringo, North and South Coast. The talent is there, and young people are looking for opportunities to be able to exploit their talent” he added.

Out of the 180 shortlisted finalists taking part in the national trials, 64 are girls and 116 boys. Of the 75 that will be selected to join the academy in January 2016, there will be two teams for girls and four teams for boys. The players will be selected based on their skills, speed, fitness, agility, movement of the players in the field, character, fitness, discipline and their understanding of the game.

Safaricom Limited has sponsored the programme to a tune of Kshs.50 million. The telco’s footprint in sports sponsorship in the country is expansive and it runs an expansive portfolio that includes the Safaricom Marathon at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, the Safaricom Athletics Series and the Safaricom Business Golf Challenge. Safaricom has had a long standing tradition of sponsoring major sporting events in the country. In 2008, the company pledged and gave cash incentives for the Olympics team and the Paralympics teams as motivation for a good performance. The company is also associated with many local races both at the national and community level.