Written by Carolyn Wamalwa
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When Tony Mauldin moved to Kenya in the year 1996 to offer his services as coach at a technical college, he had no idea that the move was to later become a blessing for sports talented young Kenyans whose destiny he was to change.
Talent scout, Coach Tony Mauldin through Protégé program.Photos/ Carolyne Wamalwa.
As a basketball coach, Tony has helped several sports persons across East Africa secure high end training with top coaches from the USA and at the same time secure education scholarships at various universities all together.
Now working as a sports talent scout, Coach Tony Mauldin through Protégé program has vested interest in sports talent identification across East Africa, where talent is identified and the lucky ones are linked to few available scholarships where they are trained and nurtured to become professionals and at the same time pursue various courses at university level.
The program aims to establish a base and opportunity for the youth, as well as establishing a good sporting foundation, like their counterparts elsewhere in the world.
One such lucky person who has benefited from the initiative is professional basketball player Steven Othoro, who was scouted by Tony Mauldin and has come to give back to society.
Othoro then a high school student whose basketball talent impressed Mauldin, was later recommended to a coach at Baylor University.
Steve’s dad was reluctant to let go of his son to a stranger at first, but after Mauldin explained to him that he was out to help nurture and further both his academics, sporting talent, his abilities and skills: of which he would come back to use in helping other Kenyans further their talent, is what helped him ease up on his initial stand.
while in the US Steve received good sports training and education at the university, and in turn acquired a vast network, he then came back home with a vision to nurture sports talent amongst the youth by providing opportunities in various sports disciplines.
Tony Mauldin runs scouting service and has so far helped 18 youth get scholarships in the United States.
“The talented in sports get basketball scholarship in the US, which eventually helps them pay for their education,” he says.
In a four day sports camp (above) organized at the Nairobi’s World Hope Centre, Protégé has put together an event which seeks to develop sports ability of boys and girls aged between 10 to 18 years while receiving exemplary instructions and guidance from top rated local and international coaches.
Though the four days are not enough to mature talent, Tony believes that the little that will be learnt in the induction phase will go a long way in inspiring the identified individuals who will yearn to better both their scholarly and sports skills in their near future.
Steve adds that the organization which is currently centralized at Nairobi was established in 2004 and has various representatives at the grass root, working as their informants who when they identify talent in various sporting activities report back to them for further action.
To the organization, Lack of good coaching, improper sports infrastructure and lack of structures to develop and nurture players in the country is the push factor for their activities.
They largely intend to inculcate the right fundamental base to develop talent as well as have fun
Tony reveals that the organization initially started with basketball, but has now ventured into scouting for soccer and volleyball talent and will soon incorporate other sports.
The consultancy firm run by Steven Othoro which has been in operation for eight years now also has offices in Senegal.
When talent is spotted, the organization meets the transport cost of the individual who is brought to the Nairobi office where they link them up with the various academies in the US who take up the entire responsibility.
However, the organization believes that with adequate support from government and other development partners, they will manage to fully execute the entire project, and in turn recruit more talented individuals into the program whose talent go to waste due to lack of proper nurturing and have resorted to uncouth means of making a living.
They hope to work with sports ministry to farther the goals of the organization in the long run.
About placement, not everyone who goes through the process hopes to be absorbed by various sports clubs, like in the case of Steve who chose to come back home and help nurture needy and talented, the program also entails turning sports persons into good citizens; allowing them to have the opportunity to play good sports, undertake diverse careers as professional players or become valuable sports persons venturing into sports career service including sports doctors, great coaches and sports journalism.
In the future Steve hopes to start a sports academy in the region.
During the ongoing camp in east Africa top 30 men and top 20 young ladies from over five institutions have been identified, whose names will be made available to top coaches in colleges and universities the US for consideration.
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