In June of 1968, English FA Champions West Brom Albion made a three week tour of East Africa playing six games across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
The side, that had beaten Everton 1-0 the month before to bag the FA Cup, ended their tour with a clean bill posting three draws and three wins.
At the close of the tour, officials from the side in general gave tips to the region on how to improve the game.
Team skipper Graham Williams was polite in his observation of the tour stating;
“We came to East Africa primarily for holiday. We expected to lie in the sun and relax, go on to the field, score six or seven goals and get back to the sun” he was quoted by a local daily
“How wrong we were. We had to fight for every goal in our matches and I can tell you it was no holiday. We were surprised at the good standard of football in all three countries although a lot of improvements are needed”
“Most of the team’s we met play to a certain pattern but lack something which I cannot really pin down” he added
The club’s Secretary Allan Everiss, while appreciating the effort put in the sides they met, pinned it down for Graham as he called for more ‘thinking’ in playing the game.
“Football in East Africa is still in its infancy, but still, I am most surprised at the standard here. Kenya especially impressed me. At times they played delightful football”
He then went on to give a few tips on how it could be played better;
“All the teams we played against moved extremely well in midfield but the main object of the game – to get the ball into the penalty area for a scoring chance was nearly always forgotten”
“Players must learn to think football - I only saw one or two who did. They must learn to play to the open spaces, to the man who is out on his own. They must move around and this is where Kenya, in particular, suffered as many of their players stood waiting for the ball to come to them”
“The biggest problem the African players seem to face is trapping the ball. West Brom players trap the ball the ball with every part of their body – the instep, the top and bottom of the foot, the chest, head and shin” he added
One last comment from Manager Allan Ashman summed up the disparity that was West Brom’s football and that of East Africa.
“I cannot see professional football here for another ten years, but it is a thought” he said
“I think East Africa football can be improved with the modern methods of coaching” he concluded.
The West Brom side twice played Kenya at the City Stadium winning both 2-1 and 4-3.
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