National Super League side FC Talanta, a club that is a product of the National Youth Talent Academy [NYTA] in January 2017 overhauled its squad leaving only two players in its ranks from the previous lot.
The club, formed in 2012 and largely made up of Sakata Ball tournament and graduates of the academy sent the players and technical bench packing for what the management stated as posting below per results during the 2016 NSL Season – where they finished 17th, three places above bottom placed Shabana.
Players to blame?
The move however drew angry response from the players who accused the management of victimizing them and setting them up for failure despite them sticking with the team during serious financial troubles that rocked them through the better part of the 2016 season.
According to the bitter players, they spent their own money to attend training sessions even without proper communication from the management on the future plans because they believed in the team and therefore, poor performance cannot be entirely blamed on the playing unit without reference to the other challenges that were witnessed in 2016 and before.
Matter deteriorated when only a handful of players could turn up for training sessions after the club struggled to honor the players dues for the better part of the second leg of the season leading to a serious crisis within the team that culminated in the firing of the entire technical bench in late December.
The players would then receive a shocker in mid-January when they were informed through the CEO that the management had decided to let go off the players including the skipper Calvin Oketch and his assistant Martin Lemayian.
-There were no salaries for a lengthy period of time and a good number of us could not afford to attend training while our houses had been locked for failure to pay rent. Those who were attending had other sources of income and remained in the team after we left. One of us who was injured reverted to taking a role as a technical assistant to help him hold on till June 2017 after we complained.
-Several players were caught unawares and started looking for teams as the NSL transfer period neared end though some others managed to get new clubs. The rest of us will have to remain clubless till June when the window opens again, said some of the affected players.
-We seriously queried the decision since to us it beat logic how a club can send 25 players packing and blame all for incitement whereas they hadn’t paid the players for at least three months which we believe is the origin of it all, they added.
When reached for comments, board member Douglas Ratemo insisted that the overhaul was necessary owing to poor performance and lack of oomph within the team that had led to laxity and negative attitude.
-We finished the last phase in mid-January because we couldn’t execute this before we paid them but even before we cleared their accounts, most of them had come for release letters. We hope to deal with all the challenges we faced last year. We are very confident that those challenges are in the past now, he stated.
Ratemo insists that the NYTA dream of nurturing talent will not die despite being indications that the team had settled for some more experienced players not necessarily from its centres across the country in its 2017 squad.
-The coach now already has a team now through last year we never had students in our centre but we still got from other centres like Kakamega. We could get players from outside if they are young but more experienced.
NYTA dream still alive
-We got the young players from disadvantaged backgrounds so that we could boost them through talent but unfortunately some of them slid into comfort zone and failed to improve while they still drew a salary. Others had stayed for long and had this as their home which I believe affected them and they needed to grow, at least three years and leave others to also get a chance.
He denied that there was any player whose contract extended beyond December 2016 despite some players claiming their contracts were to run till June 2017. He believes that four years were enough to have the players in the academy.
This is not the first time that the club has found itself in such a crisis after previous incidences in 2013 and 2015 where they dished walkovers after players boycotted training and matches due to unpaid dues. The team also played for a match without technical bench following internal push and pull.
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