Junior Starlets reveal what qualifying for their first-ever World Cup would mean to Kenya

Junior Starlets reveal what qualifying for their first-ever World Cup would mean to Kenya

Mark Kinyanjui 08:58 - 09.06.2024

The Junior Starlets are just 180 minutes away from sealing Kenya's first ever appearance at a World Cup and they cannot wait for what it will bring to the country.

As the Junior Starlets prepare to face Burundi Women's Under 17 in the decisive match of the Women's Under 17 World Cup qualifier, the stakes couldn't be higher. 

This match, set to take place at the Abebe Bikila Stadium in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, not only determines who advances to the prestigious tournament but also represents a potentially transformative moment for the young Kenyan players involved.

Captain Elizabeth Ochoka, exuding confidence and determination, has assured fans and supporters that her team is ready to seize this opportunity.

"We are going back there. It will be the second time we are playing there, and at least now, we know how that pitch feels. It is not a bad one. We will settle in immediately," Ochoka stated after their side’s last training session at the Kasarani Annex.

Ochoka said the familiarity with the pitch and the corrections made from their previous match against Ethiopia have bolstered her belief in the team's readiness.

 "We have made corrections to all the mistakes that we committed in our last game against Ethiopia, which means we are a better team currently than we were. We will give our best on the pitch and try to win the game," she emphasised.

For Ochoka and her teammates, qualifying for the Women's Under 17 World Cup is more than just a sporting achievement; it is a gateway to a brighter future.

"We are all going to work hard once we step onto the pitch. We will do all that is within our means to try and win the match," Ochoka vowed. This drive to excel is fueled by the life-changing potential of participating on a global stage.

Team-mates Halima Imbachi and Lorine Ilaronga share this vision of transformation. Imbachi highlighted the exposure the World Cup offers.

"You know, for a World Cup, if we get the chance to play, many coaches and agents will get to watch us, and you never know, some might get impressed and offer an opportunity," she said.

The prospect of being scouted by international coaches and agents represents a dream come true for these young athletes, offering a pathway to professional careers and financial stability.

Ilaronga echoed these sentiments, emphasising the broader significance of representing Kenya on a global stage. 

"Together with my teammates, we are all focused on the match. I want to assure Kenyans that we will win the game and go to the World Cup." The pride of wearing the national colours on such a significant platform is a powerful motivator, one that unites the team in their quest for victory.

Imbachi further elaborated on the potential ripple effects of their success: "Someone might also reach out later and reference the World Cup as the stage where they saw you. Such an opportunity would change my life and that of many others. It would help us transform our families." The impact of qualifying for the World Cup extends beyond the pitch, offering these young women a chance to uplift their families and communities through their success.

A victory in this fixture would mark the first time a football team from Kenya participated in a World Cup, underscoring the historical significance of the match for the nation.

The Women's Under 17 World Cup, scheduled to take place in the Dominican Republic from October 16 to November 3, 2024, presents a unique and invaluable opportunity for these young athletes to shine on the world stage.

For Ochoka and her team-mates, qualifying for the World Cup is not just about the glory of the sport but about forging a new path for themselves and inspiring future generations of Kenyan girls to dream big.

This match against Burundi is their chance to make history, transform their lives, and elevate women's football in Kenya to new heights.