Ishiara FC trials poster
Headstart: Ishiara FC are not taking a breather as they prepare for the new season with a 3-day trial | Image: Ishiara FC

After a gruelling season, Division II side Ishiara FC begin next season’s preparations immediately with a three-day players’ trial. The exercise will run between Thursday and Saturday next week (17th-19th August) at the Ishiara Mayo Stadium. It aims to recruit players into a 30-man playing unit ahead of the 2023/24 season. Top coaches from Embu’s highest-ranking teams will oversee the event alongside Ishiara’s technical team. They include Ken (CAF B), Nicodemus Omasete (Ewasco), Sammy Githinji (Black Cats) Mwai (3K) and hosts Jadiel Nyaga and Chris Kimanthi. 

According to The Meat Boys’ ™ Harrison ‘Robinho’ Gitonga, the trials are a chance for the existing players to prove their worth, as well as an entry point for new talent into the team. “We are testing everyone,” says Robinho, “Both existing and guest players have to prove that they are good enough for our next season. After testing competition in our maiden Division II season, we are confident that we can step higher. Our aim for the coming season is to reach the Division I playoffs. To prepare for this, we need to get in the right players early enough.”

The team finished 9th in a 16-team Division II league in the 2022/23 season. Pretty decent in their maiden season in this division. They travelled as far as Namanga to the south, Meru, Kajiado, and Makueni. This kind of traversing equips them with invaluable experiences in regard to playing away, different playing surfaces and climatic conditions, and matchday logistics.

How is the Ishiara Trial Model?

Coach Chris says, “Most of the trials will be game situations. We know where we need to improve, but we will test everyone afresh. This will ensure we do not lock out new talent. To achieve this, the exercise will be dominated by game situations. However, we will also be looking at other factors like players’ mentality, coachability and readiness to learn. As the trials progress, we will inform players of our decisions [to pick or drop].”

This answers the question: must a trialist player be present for the three days? No, if you are dropped, you are informed immediately. Similarly, communication to successful trialists is prompt. Robinho adds, “Trialists will take care of their own expenses. However, if the coaches feel that they need to observe a player a bit longer, then we will provide accommodation to that player for that duration.”

The selected team will have a one-week break after the trials. After that, they will resume preparations for the new season. Robinho says such preparations will include a training camp and friendlies in the county and around the county. 

Ishiara goalkeeper warm up
No time to rest: Ishiara are already preparing for the next season barely a week after completing the last | Image: Facebook/Ishiara FC

Ishiara’s trials move is a welcome step in football talent development. It is an indicator of proper football management in Embu County. The professionalisation of the game by Ishiara, Ewasco, 3K FC, Zen Shin and Dumen Orange is a beautiful thing to see. It sets the pace for other teams in the county. So far, I have only heard of Kanja FC conducting trials in the lower tiers. 

Robinho calls out on all talent looking for a chance to further their football career. He says that the trials will be fair to all, as the team looks to be a gateway for young talents into the highest levels of professional football. 

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