I have always been curious as to what makes a good football scout, so you can imagine my joy when I met Nick Yahama during the just concluded Safaricom Chapa Dimba tournament. Nick Yahama is one of the key scouts at the Chapa Dimba tournament who are tasked with identifying talent. He is also team manager for the Harambee Stars under 17 team.

Before he became a scout, Nick Yahama shared that he played for various clubs In Kenya and Oman including Harambee Stars and Mumias Sugar. His journey in football began back in high school where he was picked to join the school team. Unfortunately, he was not able to progress with his education due to the death of his father who was the bread winner. It was at this point that he made up his mind to pursue football as a means of earning a livelihood.

This decision saw him move to Nakuru where he started playing for Nakuru Municipal and Transcom. He stayed there for a year before moving to Thika in 1988 to play for KTM, this is where his footballing career really took off and saw him called up to play in Harambee Stars. His footballing skills eventually saw him get a transfer to Oman where he played for several years before coming back into the country.

At around the year 2000, Nick Yahama finally hang up his boots and made a decision to join the technical bench as a coach. He initially worked as a player cum assistant coach at Mumias Sugar but was later promoted to being a full-time coach. He became so good at it that over the years he has coached several teams in the country including Chemelil Sugar, Western Stima, AFC Leopards among others. Culminating in his current position as the Harambee Stars Under 17 team manager and Safaricom Chapa Dimba Scout.

According to Yahama, to be a good football scout one needs to be able to understand football as well as the specific attributes that are needed for the various positions. For example, a defenders and goal keepers need to be tall so as to be able to handle the high balls. Whereas a full back needs to be small and nimble which can allow one to turn quickly and run with the ball. A midfielder should also be tall with good ball control, give good passes and be able to communicate well. A winger can be short as you need someone who has speed and gives good passes. As for a striker, he needs to be tall because a large number of passes come from the air and he needs to be able to use headers. There is also need for patience and lack of bias so as to be able to get the best players.

Yahama indicated that what really stood out for him during the tournament was the amount of talent that he witnessed in both boys and girls. In fact, the talent was so abundant that he wished he had the finances to set up his own academy to nurture it. He added that as a country we have a lot of footballing talent which if well taken care of will see us playing in the 2030 World Cup.

Unfortunately, in as much as there is a lot of talent out there, there are also many challenges. Top among them being lack of equipment like balls, cones and bibs brought about by lack of adequate financing.  Also, when a player gets an injury, they are unable to get treatment which can hamper their development. Off the field, there are other challenges like players missing school due to lack of fees, while some come to the pitch when they haven’t eaten anything. All these issues have an effect of hampering player development which is why we need more corporates like Safaricom to come in and support grassroot football development.

He also lauded Safaricom for the use catapult one vests in the tournament. This is because the vests enabled them to easily track the statistics of the player’s performance which went a long way in making his job easier. He also shared that this is the technology that is currently being used in the professional leagues and for Safaricom to bring it to the grassroots is a big thing.

On whether Safaricom Chapa Dimba is making an on the grassroots football, Yahama shared that it was changing it for the better. Because without Chapa Dimba we would not have discovered the likes of Benson Omalla who is currently a striker at Gor Mahia among many other football stars . As a matter of fact some of those who recently travelled with the Harambee Stars Under 18 team to Spain were picked for Chapa Dimba which goes to show the significance of the tournament.

Yahama had some words of advice for those who have an interest in playing football, that they should just get in the field and give it their best. As for the parents, he urged them to let their children to play football because nowadays there is a lot of money to be made. In any case not everyone can be an engineer or a doctor. He gave the case of Michael Olunga who is an engineer by profession but is pursuing football as a career. He also gave the example of Jentrix Shikangwa who also passed through Chapa Dimba and is now playing for Simba Queens in Tanzania where she earns over Ksh. 2 Million per month.