Johanna Omolo from Kenya: African footballers should stay in Africa Sport | German football and important international sports news DW

To this day the Words “”nsomething good comes out Dandora“” ring in Johanna Omolo’s ears. The Outskirts of Nairobi is where the Kenyan international grew up. It is also home to Kenya’s largest dump.

“I lived pretty close to the dump, a three-minute walk away. So, it was really, very close. And the stench is unbearable. ” Omolo told DW. “We played soccer right next to it. We used plastic bags from the trash to make a soccer ball.”

Something of his friends would Likewise scrub the dump to find recyclable items for resale. S.ome joined gangs to support their families, although dozens died in gang wars.

“Many families live on less than a dollar a day,” said Omolo. “”So The only thing was football or crime. I was lucky because I stayed with football.“”

‘F.ours or five out of 6,000 will make it

At 17, Omolo left the house To play professional football in Europe to support his family. In his 14 years as a professional he played in Belgium, Luxembourg and now Turkey. The 31 year old knows how lucky he was.

“”They have about 6,000 children from Africa. But of those 6,000 I can tell you maybe four or five will make it, “he said.

T.The overwhelming majority of those who tilt do a career out Soccer still trying isy in Europe and messed up. For some it is The shame of returning home is too great.

Johanna Omolo grew up very close to the Dandora dump

Ernest Yeboah Acheampong, out Ghana, furtherce dreamt a career in professional football. Instead he consumed his years in Europe as a student, researcher and assistant coach. Last year, he published one Study entitled “African Footballers in Europe: Migration, Community and Return Behavior.“” As part of his research he spoke to several African footballers, including former Star Samuel Eto’o and Abedi Pele, About their experiences move to Europe.

Commitments and challenges

“”Most African players have a modest education, “Acheampong told DW.” That means they don’t even have a formal education. Most of You’re dropping out of school.“”

One Example is Nii Odartey Lamptey, who won the U-17th world championship with Ghana in 1991. He could neither read nor write when he came to Europewhat made it difficult for him understand what was in his contracts. He said he had been betrayed by his agents for years.

According to Acheampong in In the 1980s, African parents were skeptical of this the idea that their sons are trying to make a career out Professional football. But that has changed in the early 90’s.

“”After the success of the African teams at the FIFA U-17 World Cup (Ghana 1991, 1995 and Nigeria 1993), foreign agents flooded the continent to attract footballers to the European football market. “ he said.

But a move to Europe comes with a commitment to giving back to everyone who helped you along the way.

“It is not a voluntary action because you are obliged to do so,” said Acheampong. “Because they feel like they have been supported in different ways. “

Those who don’t adherehe added are branded as “”ungrateful or mocked by society. ”

You can only learn to think in school

Omolo felt that too Feeling of responsibility, why in the 2017 he founded a foundation designed give young people in Dandora a better outlook for the future.

Children play in the Johanna Omolo Cup

Through his foundation, Johanna Omolo uses football to give children hope for a better future

The Johanna Omolo Foundation supports poor families with school uniforms and regularly distributes sanitary towels to 500 school girls so that they can dI don’t feel the need to staying home during their time. The Foundation, endowment also runs a football Academy too develop the skills of talented boys and girls who hope to turn pro. If they don’t make it in football, they’ll get some decent formal education, and they will improve their chances of being successful in another area.

“When I was growing up, they used to tell me that boys who play football don’t know anything in school. But when I came [to Europe]I’ve found that isn’t true, “said Omolo. “”W.We give them an opportunity. If sport does not workEducation can help. I want these kids to be successful. “

Omolo also takes care of children outside his Hometown. Along with 11 With other African players, he joined the Common Goal Initiative in 2019. which contains some 150 professional player from around the globe. They donate 1% of their salary to social causes Soccer Projects.

“African players have raw talent, but they are not organized or tactically disciplined, “Sai saidd Acheampongwho added that much of the problem has to do with a lack of qualified coaching.

“”Most coaches, especially former players, think that they can be a trainer. But that’s not how coaching works.“”

Omolo he said believes it would be better in the long run if more aspiring African players stayed in their home countries.

“W.etry it to put in place a structure at home because when we do that The, Many of them will be able to earn one live, “he added.” IIt’s easier there than here. But the trouble is that when they see you here they think: ‘Y.eah, but you‘Re There And you made it.“”

A tough half season

But now Omolo finds firsthand that the life of an African player in Europe is not always easy. He has been playing for Turkish Super since the beginning of the year league society Erzerumsporwhich means he now Life around 4,000 Kilometers from his family in Bruges, Belgium. THEonly if Erzerumspor manage to avoid relegation becomes his wife and TTwo children come to him in Turkey in the summer.

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