Ronald Bebeto Sichenje, 17, from Bungoma County, could soon follow in the footsteps of Lionel Messi, Andreas Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and other Barcelona super stars after becoming the first Kenyan to be admitted to the Catalan giants’ famed La Masia Academy.
Bebeto will join the academy at the end of this year after participating in the term two ball games where he was spotted by the Aspire Dream Tournament scouts. The talented teenager who hails from Webuye West Sub County county is also the captain of 13-time secondary school national champions Kakamega High School popularly known as Green Commandoes.
The player named after the diminutive 1994 World Cup winning Brazilian forward attributes his success to his father; Zechariah Sichenje has been coaching him since he started football at five years.
He has also featured for Flyover FC; a club he terms pivotal in contributing to his success.
“For one to excel in any sport you have to be disciplined, follow instructions to the ladder and avoid unnecessary emotions while on the pitch.
“Referees are human beings so if they make a mistake as a player you should not shout at them because errors are to human beings,” Bebeto explained.
He first featured at the national level in the 2014 Primary School Championships where he was voted the best player that gave him a ticket to joining Kakamega High to play for the Commandoes.
After being spotted by Aspire scouts he was for trials in Kampala, Uganda where he impressed and earned an invitation to join La Masia and he will be turning for their Under-17 team.
At the academy, he will get to rub shoulders with Barca’s seniors such as Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Arda Turan, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Mascherano and Iniesta among others.
According to the Commandos captain, three Kenyans were selected to join the most coveted club but two of them could not manage due to logistical problems.
“The academy is well equipped and I hope make good use of those facilities to achieve my dreams of playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world. I want to thank our principal Oliver Minishi and our coach Brenden Mwinamo for their support and believing in me to head the team,” the Commandoes captain underscored.
Bebeto plays alongside his younger brother Collins Sichenje.
Kakamega High has produced several local football icons such as Peter Lichungu, Peter Zimbo Owade, Dan Musuku, Dennis Munyendo (AFC Leopards), Eric Ouma (Gor), Joseph Stanley Okumu and Apollo Otieno (Chemilil Sugar), Edwin Mukolwe, Alfred Wekesa (AFC Leopards) and Timothy Odhiambo Ojwang (Sony Sugar).
After winning the 2015 Nationwide Division One League, the school became the first learning institution to feature in a professional national league.
Bebeto also becomes the first Kenyan to be trained in a FIFA recognized academy that sets him apart from local titans such as Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama, Dennis Oliech and MacDonald Mariga.
La Masia de Can Planes, usually shortened to La Masia is the name of FC Barcelona’s football training facilities, originally located near the Camp Nou in the Les Corts district of Barcelona, and is often used to generically describe the Barcelona youth academy.
The youth academy of Barcelona holds more than 300 young players, and has been praised since 2002 as one of the best in the world, being a significant factor in FC Barcelona’s European success as well as the Spanish national team’s success at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and the 2008 and 2012 Euro’s. In 2010, La Masia achieved a record breaking honour becoming the first youth academy to have trained all three finalists for the Ballon d’Or in a single year, with Iniesta, Messi and Xavi. (Citizen Digital)