What makes for a Winning Combination?

By Richard Wanjohi

France - World Cup 2018 Winners
France – World Cup 2018 Winners

Starter

End of July and two World Cups down, what a year this is turning out to be! Starting with the more recent one, New Zealand men’s and ladies team both took home the butter by winning their respective titles at the Rugby Sevens’ World Cup held in San Francisco’s Bay Area in US.

Analysts had pinned hopes on Fiji or South Africa bringing their circuit experience but that didn’t count for anything. Add Kenya’s showing at the tournament and yes, dismal at its best – seeing as the Shujaa finishing 16th of the 24 teams.

The other more famous tournament is FIFA’s World Cup, this year played in Russia which saw European teams continue their dominance with a 4th win on the trot over the South American and other fancied teams.

This is with the French national team affectionately known as Les Bleus knocking Croatia 4-2 in one of the more entertaining Finals in recent history. Scores of fans across the world have christened this a win for Africa or indeed immigration…that’s not for us to say.

In the same period of the month, I was privileged to attend the third Rugby Conference which brings together stakeholders (sic) in the game of rugby within the country held at the Strathmore University. The theme of the sitting was aptly named ‘The Challenge of Winning’ – as christened by the host sports body Kenya Rugby Union.

This conference came on the back of a successful season 2017-18 for the Union which saw Kenya finish in the top 8 of the rugby series, the Kenyan women’s team win the Rugby Africa tournament, the 15-a-side team inching closer to a World Cup place in 2019 – all well and done for a sports association.

These 3 events got me thinking of what makes a winning combination. Does it come from a strong team riding roughshod over its opponents? Does it come from the scientific approach that have seen technology and other aspects of sports science come into play? Is it sheer luck or hunches by the respective team managers and team leaders?

Let’s take a deep dive:

Talent vs Team

In the now famous 2018 World Cup Final, football purists got their minds warped as the favoured teams started falling out as early as the first round. The Finals had a premiere appearance by the Croatian team. The tournament only one game which went goalless, missing out on the goals scored thanks to the exhausting extra-time games in the knock-out phases.

Many pundits attributed the fall of Argentina, Germany and even African teams on the lack of integration of the wealth of talent into the team structure. To paraphrase renowned management consultant Sunny Bindra in his weekly column, “…to win in football ( or any collective, team-based endeavor), four ingredients are necessary: first, a great ethos and shared sense of purpose; second, a ‘groove’ – a familiar and competent system of play (no matter what it is); third, some outstanding talent in key places; and lastly, great leadership, on and off the playing arena” – article titled Another World Cup; a Familiar Four-factor Theory We Can Apply –  Sunday Nation, 22nd July 2018.

Does this sound like something our teams do often? Does it reflect even both at our team and individual sport (where the ‘larger’ team consists of the coach, physiologist, team manager et al)?

Pre-tournament favourites’ slowly become post-tournament laughing stock. Individuals’ talent becomes anathema as experienced teams fall on the way side.

Image courtesy of www.back-post.com
Image courtesy of www.back-post.com

Sports science and Core competencies

Still with the football World Cup, a case has been made as to why it may take African teams longer to ever play or even win the trophy. While we harp on the strength and stamina of many a footballer from Africa, beyond this is a mental and physiological game which is played both on and off the pitch.

In Kenyan rugby scene, we have heard beliefs and whispers of how the game cannot cross to ‘non-traditional players’ from communities without a certain DNA or body stature. It is not for us to determine that here. But if the game of rugby in Kenya is to have a brighter future and pool of talent, this cannot fly.

In today’s sporting world, while the natural talent and flair may count for much, sports science shows that investing in the right nutrition, right training regime, right core competencies and attitude – such investment can go a long way in nurturing and growing nascent talent.

Big Data and Sports

In 2014, when Germany won the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, data analysts and tech enthusiasts were harping on how the use of big data did help it secure the win. All fair and square. What happened in 2018, albeit with even more advancements and appreciated use of data?

Perhaps I should put a disclaimer here, I’m not in any way against the use of data but this cannot be done in a void and is one of the other components needed in a winning team. As part of a winning process, start the use of data to lay a foundation, build upon it and also track performances across all spheres of performance both on and off the pitch.

I’ll take us back to the Rugby Conference where one Paul Odera – head coach of the Under-20s rugby national team gave a thought-provoking presentation on ‘Towards the U-20 World (Championships) – Process then Individuals’. In one part of the presentation, he underscored the use of data to track junior rugby players from the hours of sleep they get, food and nutrition habits, training and conditioning regimes among others.

He indicated this helps his management team understand not just the physical preparedness of the player but also his/her mental and psychological state way before they touch the ball on the pitch. It is instructive that this happens from a very basic level to ensure the team members are able to develop this self-discipline early in their careers.

How many sports teams and individuals are willing to go minutiae for a winning formula?

Sheer hunch or sheer luck?

In the 2018 World Cup Final, a number of football pundits captured on TV went ham on the refereeing decisions made which led to the first and second goals for France. It may or may have contributed to changing the course of the game.

But I usually argue, the opposing team has at least 90 minutes to score any number of goals they may muster. Why do we look for excuses, reasons one or the other as to why teams lose games? What with the Video Assisted-Refereeing making its debut in a major tournament. This will indeed impact the game of football in a big way in the near future.

But then again, to what extent can we attribute the French win to a fortuitous header by a Croatian striker? An innocent spin of the hand by an experienced Croatian defender? We never know what luck the French may have on the day, but they sure did take full advantage of it.

As a sports association, FIFA and the host nation Russia have scored major points with a largely successful tournament. How does FIFA manage to hold us captive every four years? Scoring major sponsorship deals (or partnerships as it were) as well as secure top dollar with TV and media rights in the process.

Why can’t Football Kenya Federation learn a thing or two from the parent association? Having changed its structure and elected officials a few years ago, there is nothing much to write home about. We have had many start-stop attempts at qualifying for continental challenges at a national team level. The consolation is a win of the regional cup CECAFA. Other than that, Harambee Stars has no official sponsor – from shirt, apparel to major endorsements even when a number of players ply their trade in Europe.

Supposition

In Asia, major countries including China, India and China have made very deliberate efforts to invest in sports. From infrastructure to engaging major sports associations as well as youth programmes to grow different sports disciplines. This goes beyond their traditional sports such as sumo and cricket to mainstream ones in athletics, basketball and football.

We have seen how they have exerted their influence has been with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and FIFA.  In the just concluded World Cup, both Japan and South Korea challenged the top teams and while they may have lost by a goal or on a technicality, the future does look bright.

Major European football clubs have added Asia as a must-stop locale before the start of each season. Whether it is commercializing the various sports properties or bringing the individuals closer to their fans, this is bound to serve as an allure for local leagues and teams.

Add the media investment and audience reach – the Asian audiences have been growing in double digits in the last 5 years. Mix it up with the budding local league scenes and home-grown players and talent pools, it is bound to be a potent combination to a winning strategy.

Of CECAFA 2012 , Issa Hayatou’s tightening CAF Presidency fist

Last Saturday opened this year’s account for the continent’s oldest footballing tournament. The opening game as aptly the one of hosts Uganda and their major protagonists Kenya. In what has become one of the most fearsome derbies in the region, the Cranes pipped the Stars by 1-0.


CECAFA wobbles along
This year though the tournament has managed to bring together almost all the Eastern and Central African teams with Malawi coming in as guests from the Southern part of Africa. After having had brief tiffs between the CECAFA Secretary-General Nicholas Musonye and the FKF Chair Sam Nyamweya, the tournament has gotten on without any hitches and with the added boon of being screened live on SuperSport (EA-9). Away from the pitch though, there was the annual congress held before the tournament as is tradition with most major football tournaments across the world. In that meeting, CECAFA chiefs (among them Kenya’s FKF) decided to back Issa Hayatou to another term at the helm of CAF – he’s been at it for 25 years and counting.
And as if not caring for the votes from this part of the world, Issa Hayatou admonished the CECAFA countries for not doing enough to host continental tournaments. None of the countries have ever hosted the Africa Cup of Nations ( the closest they ever came was when Kenya bid for the tourney in 1996 but bulked out before any ball was kicked). This is also seen in the fact that only Ethiopia is playing the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations after the rest missed qualification. Rwanda is the only country which came under positive light for having hosted the CAF under-17, under-20 and also bidding to host the CECAFA Senior Cup in 2015.
This says a lot about the countries from the region and the state of football therein. Compared to the Western, Northern and Southern countries, football is still under-performed in this region. From the lack of continental champions ( Uganda came closest, being losing finalists in 1978 to Ghana) and also for club championships where teams are routinely eliminated even before getting to the group stages ( the only club to have won continental honours is Kenya’s Gor Mahia before the Champions League format was introduced).
This may have informed the rather loud comment from Kenya’s new head coach Henri Michel of CECAFA tournament being ‘useless’ ( or maybe the words were lost in translation)…
Nonetheless as the tournament continues, football chiefs in the region need to find a way of raising the standards of the game. Both government and private enterprises will play a greater role in the realisation of this. But we should also call to account respective football associations/federations which need to get their act together and move from mere lip service and dependency on FIFA grants and blueprints and have an agenda for their own leagues.
Nicholas Musonye as Sec-General has managed to keep the various tournaments going and even attracting major sponsors every so often. But one man cannot manage a game of such magnitude. He would also need to build greater consensus across the federations. Also pushing CECAFA’s agenda across the continent and challenging to continental honours will be another role to be seen.

All the same, root for your favourite team as we here at SportsKenya might be doing for the Harambee Stars however rickety their form is!

Quick Facts:

  • CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup came up in 1973 though its forerunner is the Gossage Cup started in 1926 between Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zanzibar.
  • The Gossage Cup was sponsored by soap manufacturers’ of the same name under the Lever brothers- which is now Unilever plc (British-owned)
  • The 2012 CECAFA tournament is sponsored by Tusker under East Africa Breweries Limited ( Diageo-owned company).
  • Uganda has won the tournament 12 times since 1973, Kenya 5 times (including a 3-peat in 1981,82,83), Ethiopia 4 times (last time being 2005)
  • Only Ethiopia from the CECAFA region is playing in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.
Issa Hayatou’s Iron Grip

Learn from the Best – Blatter (l) and Hayatou (r)
Image courtesy of www.caughtoffside.com   

As mentioned above, CAF President Issa Hayatou is in Kampala, Uganda to oversee the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup which ends in little over one week. It may seem that the respective football associations and federations have not made much of an impression to the longest serving football honcho on the continent.
Even then, our football officials have decided to back him up once again when the CAF elections come up in January 2013 in South Africa just before the kick-off of the continent’s biggest football showpiece.
And in what seems to be an effort to maintain the status quo, CAF underlings in September amended the constitution to bar any major competition to this Cameroonian-born sports official. The amend effectively barred anyone who is not serving at the CAF Executive Committtee from running for any top job.
This effectively ended any chance of highly favoured Danny Joordan from South Africa ( who led a successful bid and hosting of the 2012 World Cup). It also knocked out Jacques Anouma- Ivory Coast born was also going to throw his hat into the ring for the top job. Read this interesting post here about African football officials oblivious to changes around them.

Before Mohammed bin Hammamm in 2011, the only other person to have opposed Sepp Blatter’s FIFA reign was Issa Hayatou in 2002. But unlike bin Hammamm who was hounded out even before he got his name on the ballot, Hayatou did manage to save face and ended up mending fences albeit conveniently with Sepp. He currently sits as one of FIFA’s Vice-President. He also managed to become a member of the IOC representing FIFA though was shrouded in controversy late last year on corruption claims which were later dropped, but the damage had already been done. FIFA and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) had to drop his involvement in the Games football discipline. But this has not stopped him learning from Blatter, managing to run CAF’s show almost as a one-man show. It is also rumoured that he is not in the best shape and suffers from some undisclosed condition. Wonder what new ideas he would have that have not been seen in the last 25 years of his reign.

On Monday 26th November, Liberian football authorities challenged CAF’s amendment in the Court of Appeal for Sport (CAS) hoping to reverse the changes made in September. This is a far shot but still one of the many measures football authorities will need to come up to see a fair election. And while it remains to be seen if there will be any other worthy challengers to Hayatou’s long reign, it will be important that the game remains the primary goal for seeking to head the organisation. But with the largess and political connections that comes with these positions, it will continue attracting more vested parties than those out to help the growth and sustenance of the football game.

For more on Issa Hayatou, check his link here and also read this piece from World Soccer’s Mark Gleeson.

CECAFA Club Championships – Can Tusker FC save Kenya’s dismal performance?

The biggest club championship tournament in East & Central Africa starts in 2 days in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania’s commercial capital. Kenya’s representative Tusker FC who are the current KPL leaders and also reigning champs of the same league will be hoping to save the country’s dismal performance in regional and continental assignments.

Coincidentally the last time Kenya won this Cup – aptly named Kagame Cup ( as the Rwandan President puts his money where his mouth is…)- Tusker FC were the club, that’s 2008. And if their current form is anything to go by, this year they can challenge the Tanzanian clubs , Simba and Yanga FC who played out an all-Tanzanian final last year in the same venue.

But upsetting the form-book will not be easy as the crowds attending Tanzanian matches have seen surging numbers to the tens of thousands and in the case of the two fierce rivals in Simba and Yanga – a crowd that could easily top to a hundred thousand.
The CECAFA Sec-General one Nicholas Musonye- who runs a tight ship – has been able to ensure that the club championships and also the Senior Challenge Cup are not without corporate support and hence not pushed into oblivion. He’s the envy of many sports federations many especially in Kenya still struggle to manage their affairs without wrangles and internal fights.
Sadly though, even after trying to be all-inclusive, there are still handicaps where clubs from states such as Eritrea will not make it. This is due to the notoriously tight-fisted regime which makes citizens want to leave the country at the slightest excuse.
All in all the 11-team tournament is bound to keep East & Central African football enthusiasts entertained and rooting for their favourite teams.

Interesting Facts:

  • Kenyan clubs have won the most trophies – 15 ;
  • Kenyan clubs have made to the Finals – 22 times – the highest after Tanzania’s 19 times); 
  • AFC Leopards & Tusker FC have each won the Cup – 5 times ( Leopards won it 3 times consecutively 1982,83,84);
  • George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo – a Kenyan striker shall be appearing for Azam FC – a Tanzanian club;
  • Sammy Omollo appeared for Tusker FC (then Kenya Breweries in 1990-92 missing out winning the CUp in 1989);
  • Pres. Paul Kagame will be bankrolling the tournament for the 10th consecutive year to the tune of US$60,000 per tournament for the winner’s prize money;

 

Harambee Stars Official Kit – How do we Source these?

Yesterday the new Football Kenya Federation made their first major undertaking by unveiling the team’s kit at a Nairobi hotel. Well it was an honourable thing but it brings to question how we source these kits and why the frequent changes in the same. We have lost count of the number of times the kit has been changed. It also makes it hard for the fans to keep track of these jerseys which we have been trying to don for the games both local and regional.

Harambee Stars new kitImage courtesy of www.capitalfm.co.ke

Asking FKF officials,
– What are the procedures of securing the team jerseys?
– Does it attract competitive tendering or is it a private arrangement of the Federation?
– How do you qualify whether to give it to one brand and not the other? Adidas, Nike or the other?
– How much does the Federation get for donning on that particular brand?
– How come we have not had any official shirt sponsor for the last couple of years?

These questions come in the bane that shirt sponsorships across the world are some of the main revenue drivers for major teams both clubs and national teams. Some have used it to leverage on their brand and won handsomely ( like the recently signed deal of Barcelona first-ever commercial shirt sponsorship deal). It also helps a country’s citizenry identify with the team.
We have CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup and now we have to buy some new shirts again …pray it doesn’t change once the World Cup 2014 qualifiers start…

Kenya Football Federation – Officials from the Past to Present

We shall seek to understand the history of football management in Kenya. This sees a chronology of previous office holders and a brief history of the football game in Kenya. (Originally known as Kenya Football Association, it metamorphosised to Kenya Football Federation and is currently split between KFF and Football Kenya Limited  )


{Dislaimer: Some of the information may not be factual as some of the details are not provided and efforts were made to that effect without much success.}

The previous office holders are as follows:
1.Isaac Lugonzo 1963 :- One of the fathers of sport in Kenya who was instrumental in the setting up of clubs with Kenyan natives. He was elected into office as Kenya welcomed her independence but he would oscillate between this and the National Olympics Committee which was becoming more active and involving.

2. John Kasyoka 1964-70 :- Had a rather nondescript term in office but the emergence of top clubs like Gor Mahia and Nakuru FC would be some of the hallmarks of his reign.

3. Martin Shikuku 1970-72 :- Known more for his firebrand in politics, he managed the game for only two years, his term marked Kenya’s entry into the continental scene playing at the Africa Cup of Nations in 1972.
His office was disbanded after claims of corruption were raised.

4. Bill Martins, Williams Ngaah & Dan Owino 1972 -1974 :- B. Martins managed a caretaker committee before passing the buck to William & Dan respectively.

5. Kenneth Matiba – 1974-80 :- Credited with bringing in some form of business acumen into football management then after helping manage Kenya Breweries into a force to reckon with on the local . Under his reign Kenya won the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in 1975 along with 3 consecutive years 81-83. In his term, saw the rise of Kenyan clubs AFC Leopards, Gor Mahia and Kenya Breweries made an impact in continental club football. Youth development was also a hallmark of his term under German tactician Bernard Zgoll.

6.Clement Gachanja – 1981-84 :- He inherited a wealth of experience from Ken Matiba and didn’t disappoint either. Kenyan clubs continued dominating the regional scene and challenge for continental honours. Under his team’s term, Gor Mahia managed to win the Africa Cup Winners Cup in 1987. The same year Kenya’s Harambee Stars settled for silver in the All-Africa Games held in Nairobi, managed by Reinherdt Fabisch as well as qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations for the 2nd time.

7. Joab Omino 1984-1991; 1993-1996:- Under his term, the ‘beautiful game‘ in Kenya started stuttering and encountering management problems. He’s known for the infamous term, “…coaches come in their dozens” after sacking arguably then Kenya’s most successful tactician R.Fabisch for criticising their style of handling the national team. The government of the day also started interfering with the game and disbanded Omino’s team indefinitely.
His second stint though was modestly successful after winning the bid to host Africa Cup of Nations in 1996 only for the Government to rescind on the claim of ‘lack of funds’.  Dismal performances from Kenyan clubs except for Kenya Breweries (now renamed Tusker FC) who came close in 1994 losing to DRC’s Motemo Pembe. Kenya also managed to have among its first professional footballers in the likes of Peter Dawo (who came from Gor Mahia to sign for Egypt’s Arab Contractors & Al Seeb in Oman); Mike Okoth ( Boshar in Oman then KV Oostende and Racing Genk in Belgium).

8. Adams Matthew Karauri 1991-92:– With Kenya qualifying in 1990 and 1992 consecutively, the Government put into place a caretaker committee headed by Mr. Karauri but that was all to write home about. The national team performed dismally in both occasions never getting past the first round (scoring only one goal courtesy of a Mickey Weche penalty in 1992 and soaking in 8 goals in total). The technical bench of the national team changed hands over 3 times in that period.

9. Peter Kenneth 1996-2000:- Taking the reigns in what would be one of the toughest times in Kenyan football after CAF banned the national team for 2 years for Kenya’s failure to host the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996, he managed to avoid controversy that had riddled the game. This though was built on quicksand as would eventually manifest itself in Kenya’s non-qualification. Here the clubs would decline both at the local and regional level with nothing much to show for honours

9. Maina Kariuki 2001-2004:- He had one of the most promising campaigns of a present-day official but his term in office marked the genesis of the current problems in the local game both at national or international level. Consolation though is qualification to the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations. This exposed Kenya’s talent to European scouts and the likes of Dennis Oliech secured signatures in Europe.
The Kenya Premier League was registered as private company under his tenure.

(Normalisation Committee under Kipchoge Keino between June – December 2004)

10. Alfred Sambu 2004- 2007:- He came in after football enthusiasts settled on his candidature in a view of having experienced hands in football management managing the national office. But right from the word go, his team was plagued by court cases, disagreements and boardroom wars. They were unceremoniously bundled out of office as the country braced for the controversial political elections.
The country was also banned indefinitely due to these battles but often these orders were rescinded.

11. Mohammed Hatimy 2007-2011:- Initially attempted throwing Sambu out of office but didn’t manage. He was suspended for 3 months in 2005 by FIFA operatives only to go back into their good books rather fast. After orchestrating a boardroom coup, this man and his minions have run the game with duress at every corner. From the splitting KFF and opening up shop at FKL ( Football Kenya Limited), to running under FIFA’s wings, this period has seen the country totter along rudderless.
Their only consolation is the blossoming Kenya Premier League which has seen the fans slowly stream back into the national stadiums and local clubs enjoy followership and lucrative corporate sponsorship. But let this not blind them as their success at all.
Most recently the country was bundled out of 2012 AFCON qualifiers and also had two of its best stadiums banned for non-compliance on security and crowd management issues.

Shall we find redemption after tomorrow’s elections? Pray Kenyan Football that we will!

SOURCES: Foul Play – The Crisis of Football Management in Kenya, Kenya Football Federation, Wikipedia and KenyaPage, KenyaFootball

Beyond 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, what next for Kenyan football?

Unless you were truly optimistic, Kenya’s non-qualification to the 2012 Africa of Nations did not come as a suprise. Even after last minute efforts by local football enthusiasts and political leaders offering  this and that package, Harambee Stars couldn’t push themselves to the final dash. So what next ?

Harambee Stars badgefrom CafePress.com

1. Football Elections – after the Kenyan electoral body IIEC came into agreement with Interim Election Board to conduct nationwide elections, this is the best shot to formally put Kenyan football structures back on the rails. Though it will be a heart-wrenching, tough act but as they say, ‘no pain, no gain‘. Let’s hope for fairly free and transparent process and no court actions by those who won’t make it after the ballot is done.

2. Fully dedicated technical team – in the last 2-3 years, there have been so many changes on the technical bench though the last one year has been more stable. But that stability has been fickle too since the head coach Zedekiah Otieno has been shuttling between club and national assignments. A last minute decision to include former international Musa Otieno seemed to help put some stability there. With a competent Management Board, the handlers SHOULD NOW recruit a substantive and full-time tactician. It is not a very demanding job as one Jose Mourinho would say but the role of constantly reviewing individual players and cobbling together a team every other month.

3. Sponsorship – There is a Management Board mandated to ‘sell the national team and seek corporate support’ among other things. Looking at the financial affairs of the national team, it is a disgrace by the current football administrators. From shirt sponsorship, to kit sponsors; training clinics, sale of media rights, international friendlies, there are areas of expanding revenue streams that NEED WORKING ON. Hoping a new and able team comes into office end of October, these are important things to note. Which brand kits our national team? No idea? I guessed so…

4. Stadium Management – though there is a Stadia Management Board, it would be important to have one of the national team’s own sitting in this Board. Why do you ask? Because as you would know we have very few venues that can host a national or international fixture worth noting. Even worse is the fact that our best bets at Kasarani and Nyayo stadiums are both under FIFA’s ban for hosting games because of security and logistical issues. Sort this out soonest or else we shall be playing ‘home games’ in our neighbours’ stadia (at OUR COST of course!)

5.League versus National fixtures – in the last 2 weeks we heard the national coach loudly vent his displeasure of why crucial Kenya Premier League games ought to be too close to an international game. It would be fair for both parties to synchronise their calendars to avoid such scenarios. Next year will be an more demanding one with the change of Africa Cup of Nations from even years to odd years( 2013) and 2014 World Cup qualifiers. We have CECAFA Cup coming up in Uganda by the end of November, let’s hope there’s no clash occasioned.

With these issues addressed, we shall be confident of putting our support fully for the national team as it represents our cause in the football and indeed in the sporting world. It is about time we got back our game…

Kenyan Football – Of Elections, KPL & Cup of Nations qualifiers

The disconnect in the Kenyan football game has been playing on the scene for the better part of this week. Here are some of our pickings and thoughts about the same;

Elections Finally?

First the Interim Elections Board (IEB) confirmed receiving FIFA’s funds around $ 100,000 with the Kenyan Government also footing the balance with an almost equivalent amount of slightly over $ 100,000 ( cash and in kind from Kenya corporate organisations). This was after the Interim Independent Elections Commission ( IIEC) had forwarded their budget for conducting the long-awaited polls. These must be the most expensive polls conducted by any sports body in the country.
That FIFA asked the Kenyan Government to foot their part of the bill should now mean that FIFA should allow the Government and by extension the Kenyan people to ‘own the game’ more. These polls would have come a long time ago and sorted the Kenyan football game if we had the wherewithal to reprimand corrupt and inept sports officials like the circus we’ve had with FKL and KFF. And it is revealed the interest the game generates not just from officials both legit and those with selfish interests. The corporate world has also been waiting in the wings to come on board and sprinkle the game with some goodies.
KPL Fixtures & Disciplinary Action

It is true that the
2011 Premier League as run by KPL has been an interesting proposition and the evidence from the buzz the games have generated is there for all to see. The teams have also been enjoying favourable and growing fan-bases for their players and on and off pitch antics. The screening of the games too has helped make this one of the best up and coming leagues in the continent.
But a few concerns here for KPL, there has been an inconsistent approach to the making of fixtures.
The most scandalous was the Ulinzi FC games where the team had taken the East African (in Burundi) and World Military Games ( in Brazil) representing the COUNTRY. Instead of moving their games, the KPL docked them 6 points and this was after raising genuine reasons for the same.
Reverse this and take to the disciplinary side, we have seen some teams get of too easy with little or no reprimand even after their fans continue raising security concerns for the teams, referees and general public. Gor Mahia is the biggest culprit here and their fans have been involved in more than one altercation since the season started.
We have a grudge match of the same with AFC Leopards coming up and though both teams officials are assuring fans of their security, what we saw after they drew last weekend doesn’t make one feel too safe after all. Carry bare essentials I would say…
If the KPL officials are to be seen to be above board, such minuscule but significant decisions NEED be taken if we’re to retain order and discipline in our game now and in future.
Kenya v/s Uganda 8th October in Namboole

This is a significant fixture in Kenya’s national team’s assignments and if we shall hope to challenge for continental honours in 2013. But quickly back to KPL, why would you fix major games a week or so to the game?
It is true you are running a league where a select few of the players are picked from for national duty. But it puts our boys at cross-purpose when the game at national and international level is not given the importance it deserves. Many of the players are proud to wear the national colours but not when they know it might not earn them any win or prestige among their peers.
Back the Oct 8 fixture, we have seen a flurry of activity as we try to equal what Ugandan fans showed us last year in the first game for the Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Kenyan politicians and media houses have been asking Kenyans to get their travel bags, fancy red t-shirts to quite literally ‘paint Kampala and Nelson Mandela Stadium red‘.
Where’s the FKL or KFF in all this? Uganda’s football body FUFA managed to lobby politicians and companies to bankroll fans coming to Nairobi last year and most Kenyan fans were stunned at the sheer numbers and the seemingly better co-ordinated fans from our erstwhile neighbours.
We know you’re busy strategising for the upcoming elections and maybe the finances don’t look so good after the postponement of elections 3 times. Maybe you can pull a few strings and endear yourselves to the discerning Kenyan fans and delegates.
But this is another major failure by football officials from Kenya to promote and try to get fans to rally behind their national team. We need a football association that cares NOT about how well their pockets are lined but one which serves to promote our kind of game within and across the borders.
CECAFA is back with us in November, what shall Harambee Stars have to show for it?

African Football Executive Summit – A First of its Kind !

African Football Executive Summit

This premiere event is scheduled to be held in Accra, Ghana from 26th-27th May 2011. The theme is ’21st Century Marketing Strategies, Branding and Leadership for the Development of the Game on the African Continent’.
The organisers, Pinnacle Group (UK & Ghana) in association with the Chartered Institute of Marketing-Ghana are hoping to address good effective leadership and innovative marketing solutions to the African football game. These two can then be harnessed to become a catalyst for sustained development to achieve immense potential in a football and economic sense as has been achieved elsewhere in the world.
For more details check their link here. Wonder who will represent Kenya in this ground-breaking event…

Kenyan Football Elections – a Sneak Preview of Top Contenders

As we wait for the election date for Kenyan football elections, we have been looking at some of the prospective candidates and their chances at the top office. Gathering info from both online and offline sources, we have the following review;
HUSSEIN MOHAMMED
Hussein Mohammed – courtesy of www.husseinmohammed.com

He’s easily the most visible candidate for the top post and is also ‘well-greased’. Having cut his teeth through a sports business organisation Extreme Sports Limited, he is a darling of the media and is well-connected and networked both in the corporate and political world.
Strengths:
  • His involvement in the world of football is without doubt. The success of the Super 8 tournament has ensured he has a head-start in terms of hands-on experience of organising anything football
  • Corporate connections – securing sponsorship in Kenyan for sports’ is not the easiest of tasks. Being in a game riddled with corruption and under-cutting is also not easy, but he has made it possible though not with direct involvement of the footballing bodies of Football Kenya, KFF or KPL. He also has also regularly made valued contributions to the footballing causes and youth affairs.
  • Age – this is double-edged. While an advantage, endearing him to the youth, it might also be his Achilles heel –which the Independent Election Board statutes had almost knocked him out but was later rescinded. It might also be used by his antagonists to portray him as greenhorn at the top.
  • Smart Use of Media – he is the first candidate to start using social media; check his website here, engaging media outlets every so often and enjoying favourable coverage from the same. This ensures he can harness the same in case of his successful election. An elaborate launch to his campaign ensured the media has had more than enough fodder to feed on and seem to hang onto his every word.
  • Fresh pair of hands- it favours him that the footballing fraternity in Kenya hopes to see a pair of new hands.
Weaknesses:
  • Age – this keeps surfacing every now and then. He has kept answering back his critics and is trying to treat it as a non-issue.
  • Politics – his prior and perceived involvement in Kenya’s political world has had some murmurings saying he is not in the good books of the party sponsoring him to a local civil seat. This has not featured prominently yet but might serve as fodder for the rumour mills dimming his stellar streak.
  • Lack of Football heritage – some former players have been pushing for one of their own to run the top office and him not having made it to any club worth mentioning or representing the country at both club or national team level clearly makes this a drawback.
  • Over-promising – there was one Maina Kariuki in the early 2000s that made such a convincing pitch that it looked like we finally had an able hand to run the game. He was from the corporate world, and it was assumed he had the right credentials; does it sound familiar? His legacy is one of the worst offices to have run KFF in recent history.

SAM SHOLLEI
Sam Shollei – image courtesy of michezoafrika.com
He was among the first to throw in the hat once the elections were announced. He was a former player having done duty with Kenya Breweries in the 1990s and also got capped for national duty. He currently holds forte at a local IT firm and is a fairly successful businessman.
Strengths:
  • Football history – his involvement in the game is surely helping his case. Many in the footballing world feel it is time a former player held the top office. Taking examples from the likes of Kalusha Bwalya and Michel Platini – current Presidents of Football of Zambia Association and UEFA both of whom were former players too, he hopes to emulate these for the Kenyan scene.
  • Corporate world involvement – His running the IT firm has helped him work his resume well. A typical Kenyan former football player (sorry to say!) is not the most admirable or well-versed of business managers. This is working to his advantage.
  • Local Football Club Associations – he has been working his ‘magic’ towards the football clubs who might influence some of the votes at the national elections.
  • Use of media- though a slightly later option, he is also using both online and offline visibility to run his campaign – check his campaign link here. He has not quite endeared himself to the media outlets but comes in 2nd in terms of coverage by print, TV and radio. He made a brief entry into online journalism writing for a local footballing site, check a sample piece here.
  • Age – he is not considered too young or too old and his age has not featured as an issue.
  • Fresh pair of hands – as Mohammed above, he is a new face in the game and analysts give him a safe bet.

Weaknesses:
  • Lack of Football Management Skills – he has not managed relating to football and this is a major disadvantage to his candidature.
  • Banking on Foregone Player Status – given that he is milking on this alone to help him run for office, his career some say was not the most sterling and at times was considered a peripheral player. What will happen once in office?
  • Corporate World & Football Politics – just like Mohammed, though a success story in the corporate world, the football politics represent a different ball game; one where dirtying of hands every so often is required.
  • Aloofness – some critics have had it that he is aloof to lower rung bodies and clubs where he is said to have little time for.

SAM NYAMWEYA
He has been in and out of the footballing world for the last 20 years. In terms of experience,he easily beats all the contenders but his terms have been dogged by claims of corruption and malpractices; from KFF, CECAFA and is currently said to masquerade with the Posta Rangers Club, recently promoted to the Kenya Premier League as their Chief Marketing Officer or something to that effect. He was ‘elected’ into office at KFF after declaring that Football Kenya Limited could not run Kenyan football as a registered company.
Sam Nyamweya – courtesy of kenyafootie.com
Strengths:
  • Experience – he has been in the game for over 20 years. From the Secretary General in the KFF team led by Maina Kariuki to the stint at CECAFA, he has held influential positions.

Weaknesses:
  • Corruption & malpractices – his tenures at the different positions he’s held have almost always led to some scandal of sorts. Loss of prize money while at the CECAFA office for the club championships; 3 bans for the country while at KFF as well as loss of gate revenues for clubs and national team; personal bankruptcy charges and questionable political dealings have been on his name for the longest time.
  • Lack of media goodwill- his prior engagements have meant that he has a questionable past which the media touches on every so often. He has also not bothered to endear himself to the online and social media world.
  • Lack of major achievements – Been there, not-done-it – his record do not strike any major achievements thus the need for a new face which he is clearly not.
  • Lack of vision – enough said.
  • Political circus – his entreaties to politics have seen him try a hand and miserably fail. Many analysts question how he has managed to survive given the high cost of political activities which usually cause many to bury their fortunes.

MOHAMMED HATIMY
Currently heading Football Kenya, he has thrown in his hat hoping for a sympathy vote to continue with the beleaguered tenure. His has been a rough patch with mixed fortunes but teetering on the negative side more than the success.
Mohamed Hatimy – courtesy of www.standardmedia.co.ke
Strengths:
  • Kenya Premier League – it is under his tenure that the KPL secured a major sponsorship with SuperSport which was a landmark and is slowly changing the face of Kenyan football.
  • Highest Ranking – it was also in his tenure that the national team achieved its highest ever FIFA ranking at 68th place across the globe.Again a team effort but of course happening under him.
  • Status Quo – for those out to retain the status quo, this is the man for the job.
Weaknesses:
  • Corruption, malpractices & boardroom coups – just like his former ally Sam Nyamweya, his legacy has been plagued by corruption and court cases, keeping busy to effectively run office (in fact this had knocked him out of the running on the pending court case technicality).
  • Lack of Vision – just as Sam above, he has never quite communicated his vision for the local game, not while taking over through the back-door or even trying to give something in the guise of a vision.
  • Old v/s New – having been in office under a cloud of controversy, he is one of those who are disadvantaged to have served rather (…disgracefully too).
  • Not media savvy – having the yoke of controversy around your neck means the media is never going to be your best friend.  

NICHOLAS MUSONYE
He is strolls across the region slowly becoming a colossus of sorts in CECAFA. Working with struggling football associations, he has somehow managed to convince Government big-shots and companies in Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Sudan to fall into place to ensure the club and national championships are held annually.
Nicholas Musonye – www.michezoafrika.com
Strengths:
  • Proven Track Record – his posting at CECAFA has been a major success for the body with the club and national championships; securing sponsorships year-in year-out and often going out on a limb to lambast national officials not too keen to work their part but quick to put their hands in the cookie jar; his tenure is admirable.
  • Media savvy – having worked in the media previously, he is always calling on them to articulate matters football in the region. He also throws in his two cents on situations in individual countries’ football associations and governments but is careful enough not to rub them the wrong way. True media darling!
  • Well ‘networked’- having contacts in high office of some of the major corporate organizations in the region, he can muster sponsorships even when all else seem to have given up. This can serve him well in enticing more corporates into the game locally. He’s also well-connected at the continental level.
Weaknesses
  • Timing – if he does declare candidature, his will be a late announcement and not having enough time to muster support from the delegates
  • Lack of Vision – back to the first point, with little timing, even the best of visions cannot be communicated that well.
  • One-man show- some critiques have often referred to Nicholas as a bit of a one-man show who is not too open to team participation. That might be a personality issue to some who feel the game is too big for one individual.

These are the main contenders and we have the favourites as Hussein Mohammed and
Sam Shollei and the rank outsider being Nicholas Musonye (in case he throws in his hat). The current scenario almost favours the incumbent for now and maybe that’s what they are hoping to play with. There is also the delegates bit which the candidates have to overcome.
We have also been toying with the idea of Hussein and Shollei deciding to be one or the other’s running mate and they would make a formidable team. Hatimy and Nyamweya have already made entreaties to each other and let’s see what happens before the day. For all with hope for the game in the country, a new office would be the best gift for us and the sport. But we have been this way all too often only for our hopes to be dashed. Independent Election Board, over to you! 

Football In Eastern Africa – ‘The Invisible Region ‘ & Nicholas Musonye’s growing stature

Courtesy of Soccernet.com’s Sven Frandsen, read through why the Eastern part of Africa will not be enjoying much boons from the World Cup and the frills of major tournaments. Once again Nicholas Musonye comes out blazing with the a true picture of the situation and could it be that this guy should be heading the Kenyan football fratenity. He saved AFC Leopards from CAF’s axe and his efforts to bring CECAFA to the forefront of continental football. He also made a strong case for football in war-torn Somalia at the CAF meeting which is said to have impressed FIFA gurus. Hmmm an interesting year indeed for the CECAFA man.
You can also read this about the dearth of players from Eastern part of Africa,which may have helped Sven develop his article for Soccernet.