Mupomba eyes West Ham career

HARARE - When Kennedy Mupomba Jnr first tried his luck as a footballer, he was considered too young and too small to make the grade.

The budding attacking midfielder had arrived as a five-year-old in Harlow, Essex, about 40km from London where his family lives, chasing his dream of playing professional football.

His parents would pay £2 every Saturday for sessions organised by a local coach, Dougie Smith, who needed a second opinion before he was convinced the young boy deserved a chance.

And if making the grade as a professional footballer is as much about discipline and dedication as it is about natural talent, then Mupomba Jnr could well be on his way.

STAR IN THE MAKING: Kennedy Mupomba Jnr, left, in action for West Ham's Academy against Benifica recently.

“At first the coach had refused to let him play because by nature he is shorter than his age mates,” says his father Kennedy.

“So he used to kick the ball around on his own or I would join him while others played on the main pitch.

“It was after noticing his skills that Dougie (Smith), invited him onto the main pitch.”

Kennedy Jnr immediately made an impression on Smith. Due to old age, Smith retired and it was back to square one for the young Kennedy.

But all hope was not lost as he continued to play football with his peers in matches organised by members of his neighbourhood housing association.

English clubs generally deploy scouts, who go around the country looking for talented young players to recruit for their academies.

Scouts from English Premiership sides West Ham and Tottenham saw Kennedy Jnr one day and were struck by the talent displayed by the young midfielder.

The scouts left their business cards with the housing association officials.

At first, Kennedy Snr did not take the news of the interest in his son from the two clubs seriously.

“I dismissed the very thought that at his age, he was good enough to attract such interest,” said Kennedy Snr.

The scouts persisted and he eventually took his son to Bishops Stortford, where West Ham runs a satellite club for trials.

Kennedy Snr decided to take his son there after he was lured by the Hammers'  reputation of nurturing some of the top English stars.

The Hammers have a strong footprint in junior football after overseeing the early development of stars like Rio and Anton Ferdinand, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Jermain Defoe, Michael Carrick and Joe Cole.

All these professional footballers learnt their trade at West Ham’s famed Little Heath Academy.

Kennedy Jnr made an impression during the trials and the club immediately offered him a contract to join their academy.

At the contract signing ceremony, West Ham were represented by former manager Sam Allardyce and Tony Carr, the Director of Youth Development.

PEN TO PAPER: Mupomba, centre, during his contract signing ceremony with West Ham's former manager Sam Allardyce, left, and Tony Carr, the Director of Youth Development.

Since joining the Hammers academy, Kennedy Jnr has been outstanding and led the club to win the Ris Orange tournament in France earlier this year.

He has also participated in the International Football Tournament held in England pitying 24 teams with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Benfica, Liverpool and Villarreal.

West Ham finished third after beating Liverpool 1-0 with Kennedy Jnr getting the all-important goal in the play-off match.

Now 10-years-old, Kennedy Jnr has a full workload as he has to juggle between school work and training.

His love for football however, sees him routinely train on his own outside the academy hours as he wants to improve on his weaknesses.

Getting and maintaining a place at the academy of a top English Premiership side is no easy feat.

Academy players sign one-year contracts which are renewed at the start of each season depending on the ability shown by the players and Kennedy Jnr has had his renewed for a third straight year.

He is highly regarded in the Hammers junior set-up where he hopes to one day graduate from Little Heath and put the blue and claret West Ham jersey in the Premiership.

Comments (5)

All the best Kennedy Jnr - hope to see you in a West Ham senior team in the future

Warren Clarke - 12 July 2015

Live your dream and reach for the stars, keep it up, good un on ya!!!!!

joey hubley - 12 July 2015

we need more of this. i think we have a lot of players overseas who need coverage thanx vaMatarutse

Farie - 13 July 2015

Ko maziso manje

Chamu - 13 July 2015

mkoma chamu pane zvese zviri apa manngokwanisawo kuona maziso bedz haaaaaaaaaa ma1

gaza - 13 July 2015

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