Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba wants Rising Starlets to punch above their weight and qualify for the 2024 women’s Under-20 World Cup to be held in Colombia.
This follows their sterling performance against Angola in the first leg of the World Cup qualifiers held at the Nyayo Stadium on Sunday.
The Rising Starlets beat Angola 6-1 courtesy of a master-class performance from Valarie Nekesa who scored a hat-trick. Charity Midewo hit a brace whereas Faith Naliaka sealed off Starlets’ incredible performance with a sublime goal.
Angola’s sole goal came from Ivane Julio meaning Starlets head into the second leg with a 6-1 aggregate that will be a hard ask for Angola to respond to.
Ababu awarded the girls a total of Sh300,000 after the game for their performance and also told them to ensure they win their return leg to stay on course for the World Cup.
“The win you have given us is beyond a five-star win, it is a big one. You have played an amazing game against an experienced team. This is only the beginning for you girls and you must win the return leg in Angola.”
He added: “I want to see you at the World Cup and to get there means you have to be at your best,” Ababu said.
The U-20 World Cup will take place in Colombia from August 31 to September 22, 2024, where a total of 24 teams—an increase from the original 16 teams—are expected to battle it out.
The CS further added that the government had a deliberate program to grow and nurture talent among the youth through the Talanta hela initiative that seeks to award athletes in all fields for their performance.
“The government has a very deliberate, intentional, and structured program to grow your talent. You can progress to play for other clubs and even for the senior team, Harambee Starlets. You can progress to turn your talent into money. That’s why we say Talanta Hela is about ‘Pesa Mfukoni’,” he added
A lot of the girls featured in the Rising Starlets squad are school girls who also participated in the Kenya secondary school games and to this point Ababu noted that the ministry was working closely with schools to identify young talents and nurture them.
“I am excited because our whole Talanta hela program is about nurturing talent from the base. Talanta is working closely with schools, we were in the ball games and we watched some of you play. Many of you are in form three, form two you are still in school and you’re very much in that frame of our Talanta Hela program,” the CS said.
Starlets now head to Luanda for the return leg on October 14, where they only need to avoid defeat of more than five goals to make it to the penultimate qualification round.
Should they qualify, they will take on the winner between Cameroon and Botswana later in the year.
Cameroon beat Botswana 2-0 in the first leg match held in Douala, Cameroon on October 7, giving them a 2-0 aggregate advantage heading into the return leg.
Source : The Star