Jackson area coaches hope to help spread football in Kenya

A few years ago, Scott Farley was at a USA Football conference in Orlando when he met George Alwanga, the director of the International American Football Federation-Africa and the president of the Kenya American Football Federation.

The two struck up a conversation over dinner about Alwanga’s efforts to develop football in Kenya and Africa.

“We kind of followed each other over time on social media,” Farley said. “He contacted me around the first of the year to ask if I might be interested in putting something together to help him.”

So Farley and several other Michigan coaches are contributing a coaching manual to help coaches in Kenya impart their knowledge of football to their college and high school players.

Farley said he hopes the end result for coaches in Kenya is that “their level of coaching expertise increases and therefore the level and quality of the game in Kenya increases, generating more interest and developing the game in the whole world”.

Alwanga played at the University of Nairobi and later coached the team. He grew up watching games on television from the United States.

“It kind of inspired me,” he said. “When I was in college I saw there was a team there so I went ahead and joined the team. I became more aggressive in the sport , I wanted to learn everything.

He was part of a team where the coach left after just two weeks. The team wouldn’t have much of a game plan before kick-off. So Alwanga began to take on some of those responsibilities, studying positions and rules and then teaching his teammates.

He has seen tremendous growth in the game in Kenya over the past decade from a college football player to seven. However, there is still a long way to go.

“These guys who graduated in the last two years from these universities went ahead and formed amateur football clubs,” he said. “We are more organic in everything we do. Some teams have to share equipment. It’s not like there’s a list of 45 players. We have a lot of utility players on every team. Some teams have 27 players, others have 25 players.

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It was in 2019 that Alwanga traveled to Orlando to learn from coaches in the United States, interacting with many American coaches, including Farley, then a Jackson High coach.

“We are all interested in learning more about the training aspect,” Alwanga said. “Football is a complex sport. I wanted to learn as much as possible. »

And they will learn from a manual compiled by Farley and a number of other coaches he has contacted.

Coaches across the state are participating in their own chapters, breaking things down position by position with instructions on how to perform certain drills to help develop players in those roles.

The quarterback chapter comes from Farley’s own football coach at Western, Nick Rulewicz.

Jackson Area High School Football Media Day

Parma Western Head Coach Nick Rulewicz is pictured during the MLive Media Day for the Jackson Area High School Football Teams at Lumen Christi High School on Thursday, July 27, 2022. J. Scott Park | [email protected]

“I’ve been coaching quarterbacks for about 20 years, so he said why don’t you focus on the traits of a quarterback, which is what coaches look for in a quarterback,” Rulewicz said. “Intangible assets, but also their physical aspects. I told him I was honored. How cool that we can take an American game and take it to Kenya and teach these coaches and they can teach the players the right way to play the game.”

The main trait that Rulewicz hopes coaches will find in quarterbacks in Kenya is selflessness.

“You have to put the team first. They need to see that you put the team first,” Rulewicz said. “That’s the most important thing we talk about in terms of my search for a quarterback is not showing that ego and putting the team in front of you.”

The manual will not contain Xs and Os so much as drills that coaches can use.

“It’s not a schematic because there are so many schematics and I think for where they are in development it would be overwhelming,” Farley said. “So it’s more focused on the fundamentals. For each group of positions, what we asked for is just a narrative about the position-specific skills and characteristics of the skills that those players should have, and then a diagram of six or eight simple and fundamental exercises.

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A Jackson or Western player might recognize many of these drills in the manual from things Farley, Rulewicz and Vikings coach Antonio Parker performed during practice.

Ann Arbor Huron to Jackson in High School Football

Jackson’s Guillermo Baird (23) celebrates an interception with assistant coach Antonio Parker during a high school football game at Jackson High School’s Withington Stadium on Friday, September 13, 2019. It was also the Pink Viking Project night to help raise funds for cancer patients in the community.J. Scott Park | MLive.com

Parker, Farley’s former assistant and now Jackson’s successor as football coach, prepares the chapter on defensive backs.

“It’s a fun project,” he says. “I look forward to making an impact on football in Kenya.”

All of these coaches are used to teaching the game to people who grew up with it. Teaching it to a foreign audience who may not have that background gives coaches a different perspective.

“You start from the ground floor,” Parker said. “You really try to get back to basics like little kids football; starting with your position, your fundamentals, what the positions mean, what the terminology means. »

Football is certainly still an American game, with over a million high school players, tens of thousands of college players and 1,728 on NFL rosters.

There aren’t that many in Kenya, but Alwanga hopes that through university and community teams, both in tackling football and the emerging sport of flag football, it can grow.

“I love football. I played it growing up, I played in high school, I played in college,” Rulewicz said. “I love the game. , and if I can give something back to the game, I will. It’s a big part of my life and who I am and I’ve learned valuable life lessons through football.

Alwanga hopes that in the coming years a full-fledged high school league will be played in Kenya, as well as a semi-professional league. He would also like to see Kenya field flag football teams on the international stage, such as at the World Games where flag football made its debut this year.

The roadmap for the future of Kenyan football will be partly written by Michigan high school coaches.

Farley is seeking financial assistance to print the books. Funds can be sent via Venmo to @Scott-Farley-50, code 7556. Anything raised beyond the $2,000 estimated by Farley will be needed to print the book will be donated to Kenya football teams to help purchase equipment.

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