The lessons taught on the pitch during TackleAfrica programmes are designed to stay with players even after the last ball has been kicked. Leon Sam, a former TackleAfrica coach and Project Officer in Kenya, has seen his journey take him from TackleAfrica coaching to the national football setup, and the lessons he learnt as a TA coach are still coming in useful to this day.
Leon in his current role as a coach for the Football Kenya Federation
Leon was first involved with TackleAfrica through the Mathare Youth Sports Association, an organisation based in Nairobi who since 2010 have worked with TackleAfrica in training and supporting local football coaches. The draw of working for TackleAfrica is twofold, he says, as not only do you get to help others through “the thrill of teaching in different thematic areas” but that for the coaches themselves, the training offered a personal platform for them to build on.
“Football is nothing without knowledge alongside it”
“The training we received from TackleAfrica empowered us in a systematic way, and gave us a platform to express ourselves!” After working as a coach he was later hired as a Project Officer, which expanded his responsibilities to include coordinating and conducting coaching courses, as well as important data collection and follow up sessions with coaches.
Leon with another TackleAfrica legend Edson Sialutaba in Zambia
Of course, while football is central to much of what we do here at TackleAfrica, education and personal development is the ultimate goal. It is a well-rounded approach that resonates with Leon. “Having undertaken the full curriculum of TackleAfrica over the years, I established myself as a life skill coach, and was able to efficiently help my players understand different life skills by merging the messages with football drills.”
Off the back of his training as a TackleAfrica coach, Leon was later able to get a job as a Facilitator with the Football Kenya Federation, where he has been involved in coaching at multiple levels of the national set up. Asked about what advice he has for young players in Kenya, you can see the TackleAfrica mindset is still very much in place! “Football is all about repetition, that is how you improve. But you should still embrace your studies as a priority, as football without knowledge alongside it will be in vain.”
Leon talking tactics
Despite having moved on to new things, the time Leon spent at TackleAfrica still holds a special place in his heart. “The best memory of my life lies with TackleAfrica” he says, “we visited the UK and had the chance to be trained through the FA Level 1 coaching course”. Of course, the chance to do some football sightseeing also played a big part in making the experience one to remember. “During this period I was also lucky enough to visit Arsenal’s Emirates stadium which was an awesome experience!”