Since arriving in mid-September defender Lawrence Olum has had little to no first-team action with Sporting Kansas City. The 6'2 Kenyan appeared in a few reserve league games later on towards the end of the season but still couldn't find any place as a sub or a starter in Sporting Kc's depth filled defensive positions.
When he signed on September 15th after a short trial with Sporting Kc we all knew the basics - he was a good, physical presence, could pass out from the back, and was Kenyan. But another thing that makes Olum special is that he does not count against Sporting Kc's international cap. Of which Sporting Kc can only have 7 players that are foreign - or don't have Green Cards.
I'm guessing in Olum's case that he has a Green Card, assuming he does not have an American parent Olum is only eligible to play with one international team: Kenya. Unfortunately Lawrence Olum will come to find out he will have to do a little more than be born in Kenya to play with the Kenyan national team.
In a search to locate more info on the situation I turned to the number one place to do research - the internet. Eventually after scouring the web and looking into endless links I found a very knowledgeable writer who works at futaa.com. His name is Brian Moseti and he had some interesting details into Lawrence's international history with Kenya.
Something I learned was that Lawrence Olum had in-fact been asked to join the "Harambee Stars", (as they are affectionately known in Kenya) on multiple occasions. But every time he would get called up something came between him and his dream to play with Kenya.
In 2009 Olum was called up to the CECAFA senior Cup Challenge, unfortunately, Olum was already midway in to his season in the US and preferred to stay there. In 2010 Olum was asked to take part in the Green Soccer Bowl which was being held in Detroit, but, other teams in the tournament like Ghana and Puerto Rico failed to acquire Visas. Again in 2010 Olum was asked to join Kenya to play in a 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, but apparently the head coach at the time had changed his mind when official calls were sent out.
Brian tells me the main reason for the lack of international playing time for Olum is due to Kenya's inefficiency to keep a head coach. In the past 5 years Kenya has had 7 different national coaches. Olum has been on the international radar for about 4 years. So there is definitely a connection between the two. Another reason Olum has seen no international time is because the national team coaches have all previously been managers at teams across Kenya's premier league. So when they build their team they tend to build around players that are in Kenya's top division in fear of being scrutinized by the ravenous amount of fans that have started to follow football in Kenya's highest division. Meaning footballers like Lawrence Olum don't have many opportunities to play.
But there is hope for Olum yet. During the holiday's Olum came home and met with the current head coach Francis Kimanzi, the 35 year old promised to consider Olum in the future. Another positive step in Olum's favor is a new football federation, which has been installed in Kenya and should provide a bit of professionalism for a country that has been on a tight budget in terms of football. Potentially another reason most players have been brought in from clubs from Kenya - the FA doesn't have the funds to pay for air travel for other footballers. In fact Olum himself has spoken publicly about the situation and has raised an idea that might catch on.
Olum has proposed that Kenya's FA hold a camp for internationally based players during the holiday's. Hundreds of players from all across the world flock to Kenya to spend time with family and friends during the festive season. It only makes sense to give them an opportunity and it could turn into a good deal for Olum if he comes back to Kenya next year. But right now, he's back in Kansas City and ready to play for Sporting. Hopefully we'll see him playing with the Harambee Stars shortly though.