World Cup or KCSE exams? Junior Starlets face tough choices after historic achievement

Junior Starlets celebrate a goal during a past match against Ethiopia at Ulinzi Sports Complex. IMAGE/FKF

World Cup or KCSE exams? Junior Starlets face tough choices after historic achievement

Joel Omotto 08:00 - 18.06.2024

A number of Junior Starlets players face a huge dilemma as they will be required to sit KCSE exams at a time when the FIFA U17 World Cup will be taking place in the Dominican Republic.

Kenya’s Junior Starlets may be celebrating their historic World Cup qualification but up to eight players in the squad face a huge dilemma.

The team qualified for the FIFA U17 World Cup that will take place in the Dominican Republic from October 16 to November 3.

The problem is, this is the period when the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Exams (KCSE) will take place, posing a huge headache to the players.

Mildred Cheche’s history makers have eight players in their ranks who are candidates this year and the KCSE exams are set to start on October 22, four days after rehearsals.

This will happen six days after kick-off in the Dominican Republic which means the players will be required to be in the South American country for the tournament.

It leaves the affected players with a big choice; to miss the World Cup and sit for the exams or opt for academics and miss the once in a lifetime opportunity?

That is not all, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has indicated that the team will have a three-week camp in Marbella, Spain in September to tune up for the tournament which means the players will miss a huge chunk of the third and crucial academic term.

Cheche revealed that talks are underway with the Ministry of Education to find the solution to the conundrum.

“They have remedial classes. They are going to have to do some special exams. We are hoping to see if the form fours in the group will be able to sit exams after the rest [of the country] so that they can be able to participate at the World Cup,” Cheche said on Sunday.

However, FKF has insisted every player who was part of the historic achievement must be at the tournament, adding a twist to the story.

“I spoke to the Minister about it and I told him that we will not leave any girl behind because of Form Four exams,” FKF president Nick Mwendwa told Capital Sport.

“The World Cup will come only once in a lifetime but an exam can always be re-booked. We can re-book to have them do it in March. I cannot leave any girl behind when they have worked so hard to go to the World Cup.”

The FKF boss hopes a solution can be found just like Spain managed to have Barcelona’s 16-year-old Lamine Yamal at the Euro 2024 in Germany when he is still a student.

Junior Starlets became the first Kenyan side to qualify for a FIFA World Cup when they beat Burundi 5-0 on aggregate to seal their ticket.

They are joined by Nigeria and Zambia from Africa but the players will hope that the exam headache is sorted out quickly so that they can put all their focus on the tournament.