2014 thus far, Kenya’s Sports dwindling influence?

This year started with a lot of optimism given that the then newly elected Government had come with a basket full of promises…pardon my pessismist self who takes politicos and sports officials with a pinch of salt.
Well they had even the Sports Bill which was finally passed last year to provide grounds for new dawn in Kenyan sports. But alas!
Starting with the people’s game of football, Kenyan clubs were bundled out of the pre-qualifying stages of continental club championships. That it was Kenya’biggest clubs reduced to cheer leaders tells a lot of what needs to be done to the same. This showed the need to streamline club activity in Kenya.
Onto to athletics, even though Kenyan athletes made a good showing at the continental championships in Kampala, our rivals in Ethiopia and other East African countries are no longer shoo-ins to be taken for granted. An interesting observation too must be made on our long distance runners especially marathon. While Kenyan has a wealth of talent, their margin of success is restricted to 2-3 wins before fading off. Look at Ethiopia, the same athletes who ran the 5K & 10K have now switched to the half and full marathons…it’s only a matter of time…
Volleyball, and our Kenyan ladies have always been continental queens….? Well not anymore! Losing the North Africans, our sisters were given a reality check on what other countries have been doing and are capable of doing. There has also been such a disconnect between continental and world championships. Kenya has performed dismally in the latter and Kenya Volleyball Federation doesn’t have clue of what to do.
Cricket, oh the Englishman’s game! Well Kenya has sunk so low, that we couldn’t qualify for the Twenty 20 tournament played by both Test and non-Test nations.  What is more worrying is that our neighbours Uganda and Rwanda are developing better teams and it’s only a matter of time before we are dethroned.
As for rugby,  it’s a mixed bag with the 7s team tempering our expectations while the 15s side  made small but significant strides in South Africa as we wait for the Worl Cup qualifiers later thus year.
Boxing too is reporting a  bit of life after being knocked out for several years off the national sports agenda.

  • What has been symptomatic across the board is lethargic sports officials.  We have been there before on the need to elect pragmatic officials.  It’s an ideal situation but tenable for some if not majority of the sports bodies. 
  • Laxity from the Government.  While some sports associations behave like untouchables, they’re more that the Secretary of Sports and Culture can do than the mere pronouncements.  For starters, invoking the Sports Bill and its statutes is one way. 
  • Accountability – audits on the sports bodie should be regular and recommendations acted upon. This should be from both Government and sponsoring companies.  When players go on national duty and come back without having been paid their allowances is an abomination in this time and age. 
  • International best practices – when our sports people participate in international events, what do they learn? Or are they busy visitng other less important business as opposed to taking notes on their call of duty? 
There’s still the second half of the year to look forward to and hope that there are better and sterling performances.  The list below shows some of the sporting events to look out for; 
  • Commonwealth Games
  • IRB Rugby series 2014/15 
  • IAAF Grand Prix meets 
  • World Cup qualifiers (rugby)
  • Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers

Sports Secretary Dr. Hassan A. Wario – An Oath for Kenyan Sports

Daktari you must be now have learnt how to manoeuvre traffic in and around the KenCom house which houses your Ministry carved back into the Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs. We also remember your own words about the capacities of Culture and Arts being your forte but Sports not such a knowledgeable affair to you ( the ‘corrupt’ and those for the status quo must have smiled and winked at each other…).

First order of the day is to read and re-read the new Sports Act which was passed (thanks in part to your predecessor) earlier this year. Carry copies in you car,since now you’re chauffeured into office, get it on your i-Pad or whatever gadget tickles your fancy. Get the technocrats in your Ministry to break down those technical terms and on a regular basis, consult widely with sports stakeholders not just officials in their respective sports organisations. This will serve you in good stead in the coming 4-5 years depending on when the mandate of this government ends.

Secondly, do ensure that as the Act prescribes ALL sports bodies – federations, associations or unions – carry the intended elections. We have a couple which have already been in abidance with that rule ( though majority were merely rubber-stamping the status quo). Keep these bodies in check by requiring regular reports and budgets review and where applicable ensure those not towing or keeping with the mandate of their bodies, chase them and sacrifice on the high altar of the rule of law. There needs to be a few heads rolling every now and then….you’re a well-travelled man and you know what they do in China if you’re declared corrupt in People’s Republic.

Third, in your works in Culture and national museums, you must have learnt a thing or two about archiving and record keeping. Do dig those archives for reports from the 1987 All-Africa Games and subsequent All Africa Games, 1990s World Cross Country championships, Olympic Games reports from 1956-1972 &1984-2012 among others. Those will make you have a clear view of what happened to Kenyan sport and why we have either lost or gained in some sports disciplines.

Fourth, read sports policy documents from sporting countries like Australia, Brazil, China, USofA and even our colonial masters the UK. These countries have enshrined sports as mainstream activities and their governments ‘have put their money where their mouths are’. The world over, unless the Government actively engages its populace in sport and make deliberate efforts to do so, Kenya shall suffer from the lethargy it has continued to suffer from in the last 20 years or so. Chairman Mao Tse Tung declared table tennis a national sport and you can see today what that sport has done for the country and its satellite states.

Fifth, you must also revisit the Jubilee manifesto to guide you on your appointing authority mandate & previous Government policies e.g. the reward system and recognition as national heroes.A major point is the investment in infrastructure in sports in at least 5 counties and building stadia and sports academies. It’s a  shame that the country has not undertaken any major sports infrastructure development for most sports disciplines. It is sad that open spaces have either become grabbers’ paradise or grazing fields for urban animal keepers or just suffering from neglect. A quick audit of all these facilities in the country will show those that can be secured by the state and those that the country governments can start working immediately. Together with the Local Government Ministry do ensure that urban planners factor open playing spaces and no not just the usual golfing fields but football, running tracks and other such facilities.

Sixth, there are some associations with some semblance of order, consult with those and ensure they have direct access to your office. They will need your office’s guidance and support to secure regional and international competitions and the State should never again have to suffer the reputation that we did in 1996 of bidding for a continental competition only for the country to back out in the last minute ( Africa Cup of Nations, which was eventually hosted and won by South Africa).

Dr. Hassan A. Wario – Image courtesy of www.nation.co.ke

Seventh, curriculum in schools and higher institutions of learning should start emphasising on sports and the business around it. As we write this, only 2 universities in Kenya are offering course in sports management and physical activities. Even with such a rich heritage of sports achievers and sports leaders, surely we can start working on relevant curriculum for those willing to engage in sport not just on the field and pitch but also in the boardrooms and offices. We can have collaborations and short term course from reputable institutions such University of Michigan, Ohio State University, University of East London, Cardiff University to name just a few.

These 7 points we have sought to talk about will be more than enough for your 5-year term and achieving 7–80% of these will be major boon for Kenyan sport on the global scene. You undertook that oath, we keep the faith!

SIDENOTE:
Kindly consider opening Twitter accounts for your Ministry and one of own. Kenyans on Twitter famously known as #KOT who have a thing for sport will engage with you but be ready for baptism by fire…

Kenyan National Honours, who makes the Sports Category shortlist?

Jamhuri or Independence/Republic Day is usually the last major national day on the Kenyan calendar. This day also serves as  when the list of state commendations or honours are awarded to various Kenyan nationals who have served diligently and exceptionally within the given calendar year or in their lifetime. It is structured in the same vein of civil awards and decorations such as are awarded in the UK ( Kenya’s former colonial master), US et cetera.

Kenya State Commendation Bars
Image courtesy  of http://www.coleccionesmilitares.com/

Immediately after Kenya’s independence, the roll of honour was largely composed of politicians, businessmen, educationists and sadly cronies of the Government of the day. This was perpetuated in by the Moi government in the 1980s and 90s. Then came the Kibaki era which is coming to its sunset days. Again not much change there and though there have been a couple of deserving Kenyans who have been awarded, there are also some ‘suprises’ who show up every now and then. (FYI -In 2012, two of the President’s children or is it First Family’s were among those honoured)
Do you always wonder if you have made the list or at least someone who you know deserves? It was a bit of an embarrassment for the Kenyan state in 2004 when the Nobel Committee honoured Wangari Maathai with its Prize for Peace while back home the best we could do is offer her a Deputy Ministerial post with its lowly honours and priviledges.

All the same we have a list of the honours listed as follows;

  • Order of the Golden Heart – Chief/First Class(only Kenyan Head of State & other exemplary people from other parts of the world are awarded this) denoted as CGH, Elder/Second Class (EGH), Moran/Third Class (MGH)
  • Order of the Burning Spear – Chief (CBS), Moran (MBS) and Elder (EBS)
  • Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya (OGW) 
  • Silver Star (SS)
  • Head of State Commendation ( HSC)
  • Distinguished Service Medal
  • Distinguished Conduct Order

This year there were a couple of sports personalities awarded including;

  • David Lekuta Rudisha (MBS)
  • Sam Nyamweya (MBS)

Last year’s list included among others;

  • Collins Injera (OGW)
  • Humphrey Kayange (OGW)

Other previous honours include Catherine Ndereba (DSM & OGW), Tecla Loroupe (OGW), Ezekiel Kemboi (OGW), Jason Dunford (OGW) and Paul Tergat (MBS) to name but a few.

Pres. Kibaki garlands The Aga Khan with Chief of Golden Heart (CGH) honours – 2007

Now my beef starts with the ‘economy of that list’. It was too short considering there are many sports personalities worthy of recognition whether still active, retired or post-humously. This has been done before. For example, Kenya never honoured her late boxing hero Robert Wangila Napunyi, marathoner Samuel Wanjiru, footballer Jonathan Niva, former tennis star Paul Wekesa et cetera.
Secondly, what criteria do the State operatives use to vet those deserving of these awards? Yeah what great honour did some of those mentioned bring us? For example, football honcho Sam Nyamweya though in charge of Football Kenya Federation currently, our take is that he has not really lived up to expectations. In fact, he could be part of why Kenyan football languishes in mediocrity. Look at how they handled the Henri Michel case. What about Sakata Ball?
Finally we’re reminded that there was supposed to be a Heroes Corner at Uhuru Gardens. What happened to that initiative? Athletics Kenya came up with its own Sports Museum to try and honour those who achieved great deeds in the sport for the country, though it doesn’t quite measure up to standards.

Next year at a time like this,we shall be having a new government and hope that they will improve on the way  we honour our sports people. They have been our greatest and most consistent ambassadors and should treated as such if not better!

Kenya Premier League…finally of Age?

One year short of marking its 10th anniversary since it was formed the highest professional league for the game of football has seen what may be its best season so far.

KPL Logo – courtesy of www.kpl.co.ke



And in 2012….
The 2012 season started with the new office running Football Kenya Federation after years of bickering and court proceedings finally gave way to a compromise agreement. The warring factions of Football Kenya Limited and Kenya Football Federation each contested the elections with other favoured contenders.Sam Nyamweya and his retinue started by stating they would not interfere with the Kenya Premier League, more out of fear of losing out TV rights and sponsorship from SuperSport than any good intentions.
With that KPL CEO Jaco Oguda and Co. set about to look for corporate sponsorship as well as ensuring that clubs in the league maintained a certain level of professionalism. Up until this season, the league had not secured a title corporate sponsor making operations at the KPL offices and wider mandate a challenging task. Interestingly many clubs in the league have managed to attract big money with the likes of AFC Leopards, Gor Mahia, Sofapaka and Thika United among others getting 3-5 year commitments from Kenyan corporate firms. And by a stroke of luck the former big teams who have yet to win the revamped KPL have performed fairly well with both AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia fighting to the last match hoping to be crowned winners. Reigning champs Tusker FC have also an outside chance of picking the silverware again dependent on the top 2 teams faltering.


SuperSport’s influence and other clubs’ rise
With these clubs along with mid-level teams such as Thika United, Sony Sugar, Chemelil Sugar making fairly good performances, the media sponsors SuperSport have ensured that the wider audience not able to attend the games in the various stadia get a snippet of the action – Remember SuperSport have made the biggest investment into the KPL through securing exclusive media rights. The SuperSport honchos signed an initial 3-year contract in 2008, before extending it to 5 years in 2010 to end in 2015.
In its first year of coverage, SuperSport screened 22 games which has risen by 300% to 90 games shown on SuperSport including a channel launched in 2011 specifically targeted to the region, SS9 EA. In addition to this local media personnel have been trained on live coverage, camera, web among other technical aspects of the trade.
Back to the league, in its 9 years since 2003, the Premier League has seen different teams emerge as new kids on the block with Ulinzi FC ( largely associated with Kenya’s Defense Forces) win the title 4 times (from 2003-5 and 2010), Tusker FC 2 times (2007 and 2011), Sony Sugar in 2006 and Sofapaka 2009. This has helped the League get wider appeal with each of these clubs getting its own followers. Still these clubs have not attracted the number of fans that traditional teams have seen for their games but it’s a work in progress.


Sell your Soul
In the 2012 season, finally the League did secure title sponsorship with Tusker, EABL’s flagship brand with a 3-year contract worth KSh. 170 million. Though widely celebrated across the country, its our belief that the KPL officials sold themselves cheap in the rush to obtaining the deal. Our thinking is informed by the fact that there were other suitors willing to associate with the game both in the drink brands and a few telcos whose balance sheets would only spot a slight blip. Again, the KPL officials are still learning the ropes of relating and associating with the corporate types in the country who still view sport as a recreational activity.
Another deal signed in the 2012 season, saw Puma secure the deal for supplying footballs to the clubs in the league. The deal is worth KSh.10 million though no real monetary value is attached to the deal, yet again raising concern of who negotiates these deals for KPL.
By now, those charged with seeking sponsorship and long-term deals for the League should ensure they argue their case and seek better deals for the game. They should also see even if the deals do not fully come with monetary benefits, the KPL secures some form of commitment from corporate firms that will see investment in the game.

Future Prospects
And as the 2012 season comes to a close, there are lots of areas that need to be worked on. These include the following;


Club management vis-a-vis KPL Agenda
Many clubs in the KPL are still run by officials who’s agenda is not entirely in the interest of the club or game.  There are also many charlatans in town seeking to run clubs while they can’t run a household to save their souls. In times to come, KPL should ensure that clubs adhere to a certain code of ethics when it comes to management and financial aspects. It will be in the best interests that a club’s promotion to the top flight comes with a certain sense of responsibility and accountability. Oh by the way, KPL books for the last 3 years should also in the public domain for those in the game to know what and how the League is run.

Security and Discipline
This is still a sticking point in many league games. This is especially the case for the big games among traditional foes. Though KPL puts the liability and responsibility on the clubs, it ought to wield wider influence and consult with security experts on how to manage crowds and game situations. The Disciplinary Committee should also come down heavily on any club or fans who display intolerance and commit repeat offences relating to crowd trouble and harassment of fans. This will make it attractive for the uninitiated fans and also traditional ones who are yet to step back in stadia to make that move. They should also vet security apparatus who’s personnel at times work in cahoots with the fans to either smuggle in illegal stuff or use fake tickets to enter various venues.
The same should be reciprocated by players on the pitch. Many a times we have seen footballers question the decisions made by the referees and some even result to physically abusing the officials. These incidences should become a rarity if KPL thoroughly and regularly trains the centre field officials along with club representatives.

Venues
Talking of venues, though it’s not KPL’s main concern to build infrastructure, they should impress upon local and regional authorities to make invest more in better infrastructure in the stadia, parking lots, training grounds and youth centres. In the upcoming system of county governance, those that seek to engage the youth and related activities will have a lead in attracting viable investments. We have seen many a housing projects come up with golfing estates, but it sure would also help if they had training grounds for football and other outdoor games. The same would be great for youth centres.

Financial and Legal Expertise
Though the KPL has officials who are experts in these fields, they need to engage more hands in both departments for the League to be able to develop strong and stringent mechanisms for clubs and those with the interest of the game to operate. Sponsorship deals secured on the cheap should become last resort not options explored and hastily signed. There also need to be consultations with those in the professions to provide training in sports finance and sports law.

Club Youth system
Famous clubs have made it a priority to invest in their youth development programs. It should be of urgency since many clubs are starting to attract talent from lower rung clubs but the reservoirs are not enough. The system will not only ensure continuity for the clubs but also see former and retiring footballers engaged in their favoured club activities instead of wasting away in destitution, drug abuse and alcoholism. It has worked in developed leagues such as Spain, Germany, Holland and now England. Investing in the club’s youth will also see a better national team from the under 12 all the way to the senior side for Harambee Stars.

And this is looking forward to a better league in 2013 and coming years…and raise a glass to the winners of the 2012 season !

Football Kenya falters again and again

Football Kenya fallacies
After securing fresh mandate from the football fraternity in the country, the current Chair one mercurial Sam Nyamweya seemed to have finally come in through the main door to bring order to the rather chaotic scene that is Kenyan football.
But barely a month in office, the Chair started making moves which have since started becoming all too common and frequent. Last year in the first week of December , it was announced that from 2013, all football tournaments that were to be played in Kenya from the lowest levels to the senior ones would have to seek Football Kenya Federation’s clearance – the main gist of this was the many corporate-sponsored tournaments which football officials have salivating and rubbing their hands with glee due to the monies involved.
Early this year one of the country’s professional players made formal complaints about refunds not made to him for air travels made during national duty. Another player still also complained about his use of image and non-compensation for the same. Both these cases were poorly managed by the FKF team which started making pronouncements of how unpatriotic our pro players had suddenly become.

As the country was preparing for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers for 2013, it became clear that the technical team did not have what it takes to deliver the goods and the campaign was in shambles by last month with sacking ( and ‘appointment’ as football technical director )of the national coach.
By this time also the cracks had started emerging between the Chair and the Vice-Chair along with other branch officials who have not been accommodated in some of the rushed decisions made by the Federation.
Mid-last month, one of the biggest football tournaments, Sakata Ball was cancelled by the sponsors Safaricom in the last minute after it emerged that some FKF officials had made a claim for a percentage of the sponsorship fee(s). This was clearly without justification.
The straw that broke the Camel’s back was Monday’s announcement to the media that FKF had resolved to suspend Vice-Chair and of the Nairobi branch officials for some fabricated and cooked-up issues. And in quick succession, the Chair proceeded to appoint one of his handy men to the post of Vice-Chair.
There are many other issues which we would wish to highlight, but let’s not bore you to death with the sad song(s)…

Same old, same old…
What irks us here at SportsKenya is the fact that once again, Kenyan football is a non-starter, largely due to an incompetent leadership team which is bereft of any new ideas to inject into the local scene. Some have been hoping that the current Chair – who’s well known for his dubious character and political machinations – would somehow see the ‘light’ but that very light has been put off for many a football fan.
KPL as sponsored by SuperSport Limited has been trying against all odds to restore some order into the game. But interference has been seen from FKF e.g. the media accreditation process which was done in a shoddy manner, disciplinary issues relating to the suspended games as well as the tiffs with some of the refereeing officials who at times are at pains to gain control of the game but can’t due to fans’ pressure.

The usual nonchalant stance by FIFA is not entirely suprising given the fact that the first port of call for the current Chair after his election was the Swiss city of Zurich. It may also not be lost to us that the current FIFA President is on his last days and wouldn’t want to antagonise officials who might come back for his neck upon retirement.
The Kenyan Government through the Ministry of Sport is the lame-duck which pipes threats but never makes good its word. Mr. Minister, you can bite the bullet and disband the top team since we have not even qualified for the AFCON coming up in 2013 anyway. And the more we wait for semblance of order to take place, the more the disorder and misconduct of the top organs will continue.

If we can make that sacrifice and bear the painful process for at least 6-12 months, we can midwife a new management team that will have not just the goodwill of football practitioners and enthusiasts but also serve as a lesson on how not-to-mismanage the universal game of football! Well until then, we can forget any meaningful change in the Kenyan football status in the near future…

Kenya v/s Malawi – 2014 World Cup Qualifier starts in Earnest

The qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup to be held in Brazil start in earnest in a week’s time and for Kenya this journey begins with the small step of facing Malawi at home. For a start, the fixture is quite significant given that the Kenya Premier League cleared its first leg of matches for the 2011/12 season a week ago. This ensures that the players have had fairly reasonable time to train as a unit.

Kenyan Football fan

A second feature is the fact that most European Leagues have ended and for those Kenyans who were playing for their respective teams, it is ample time to come back and do national duty for the game. But with the unresolved issues of McDonald Mariga’s refunds and the tiff between Dennis Oliech, EABL and Harambee Stars Management Board, you can rest assured the two will not feature in the upcoming game. Coach Francis Kimanzi will have the unenviable task of naming a team more likely to have new faces & local players as opposed to the over-reliance on the pros.
Third, we have the game taking place at the reopened and refurbished Kasarani ( or by the mouthful name of Moi International Sports Centre-MISC). The facility has ample space for parking, fans and teams alike as well as a great atmosphere for such a game. The venue has also been a good omen to the national team having played games there against big teams and going home victors in front of the home fans. Remember Kenya v/s Nigeria in 1996?
Lastly it will be a long weekend courtesy of a public holiday on 1st June thus providing the perfect excuse for the discerning sports fans in Kenya for a good weekend outing.
Thus said, all Kenyan football fans can show up and support the team to ensure they start on the right footing for the World Cup journey to the Samba country.
Tickets for the game shall be sold online for the first time as Football Kenya Federation tries to beat fake tickets peddlers and ensuring a more centralised and user-friendly mode of acquiring match tickets. You can access the site at www.kapstickets.com and pay via MasterCard, Visa or Airtel Money ( wonder why they never incorporated the more popular M-Pesa…)

Update:
As of Monday 28th May, Dennis Oliech had reported to the Kenyan training camp at Kenya School of Monetary Studies for the Kenya – Malawi game.  Word has it that FKF & EABL had sought to clear the small issue of using his image(s) for the Tusker/Harambee Stars promo. Hope it’s the last we’re hearing of this and look forward to Kenya making the best of the qualifications to the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.

Statistics thus far:
Going into Saturday’s game, Kenya has played 56 games for the World Cup qualifiers; won 18, drawn in 12 and lost 26. A dismal performance indeed! But as they say, every day is a new day and the boys can rise up and rewrite history…time will tell!

Dennis Oliech, FKF & EABL – Get it Together People!

Tusker Sponsorship stirs Harambee Stars’ Nest

While the remuneration saga has been going on for the last few weeks now, Dennis Oliech’s retirement threat seems to have finally caught the football world’s attention.  A brief history of this is that, East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL) through its flagship brand  Tusker confirmed sponsorship of the national football team Harambee Stars in anticipation of the Africa Cup of Nations 2013 qualifiers and the World Cup in 2014 in Brazil….all good so far…

Mariga, Oliech & Mugalia (Image that stirred the Hornet’s Nest) – www.futaa.com

As part of the agreement whose details have yet to be revealed but Harambee Stars Management Board seems to know, EABL were allegedly given rights to use the images of the national players as part of their promotional material to drive their brand communication.
Now that’s where the line becomes blurred.
Oliech came out openly in the use of his image (along with MacDonald Mariga & Ben Mugalia) for the Tusker promotion. FKF and the Harambee Stars Management Board accused him of his lack of loyalty to the national cause and sacrificing self to play for Kenya.

Players’ Endorsements & Players Dues
While some may argue that Dennis Oliech is a professional and should overlook the said endorsement fees, it calls to fore the use of Kenyan sports personalities and lack of proper remuneration and contractual commitments.
Looking at the EABL/Tusker sponsorship, that brand generates millions in sales and even if they might not feel inclined to pay the individual players, it would be presumed to be part of the KShs. 110 million committed. Sponsorship fees made by Kenyan corporate firms are usually committed to the national teams or otherwise but most of these funds never actually trickle down to the players and if they do, its miniscule.
Enter Football Kenya Federation, though in office for only a few months, they have not entirely endeared themselves to the national team players. Already one of the best goalkeepers in Arnold Origi announced his retirement last year after Kenya’s failure to  qualify for Africa Cup of Nations in 2012. MacDonald Mariga also complained about non-committal arrangements in refund of his air-flight tickets for national team engagements. Read in interesting article here on national team players’ welfare.
If you look at the complaints they are coming from the professional players who interact with other players in the European leagues. Thus they would have an idea of what they are claiming to be their rightful dues.
Back to FKF, we know that players have often turned up for national engagements without allowances for months on end. That a few players don’t mind playing for Harambee Stars even if they’re paid a pittance are supposed to be old stories.

To bring this rant to a logical end,

  1. EABL and FKF should ensure they outline the details of the sponsorship agreement, even if they have to disclose such details as who gets what and promotional material usage etc.
  2. Also Kenyan corporate firms, it’s about time you paid up a little more to our Kenyan sports personalities. 
  3. Kenyan and other corporate firms, when making any commitment to sports activities, remember at the final end the players welfare is paramount. Without this, the end consumer that you target will be a disillusioned lot and that’s not what your brand(s) stand for.
  4. Its about time Kenyan football players formed a Players’ Association. And if there is one then it’s not doing its work. Player grievances and issues such as player contracts, players remuneration, injuries, agents’ activities and all others relating to players should be addressed through a common voice. This will ensure you have a strong bond and common purpose to realising the interests of players.

Football Derby exposes Kenyan football soft underbelly

Many had gone to the game expecting it to live to the hype but what transpired on Sunday is the sad reality of what the Kenyan football game should address and hopefully learn from going forward.
Before going all ham on this post, we seek your indulgence on an article carried by the Daily Nation last week on Wednesday 14th March about how ‘financially-troubled clubs being dropped from KPL‘. The article sought to give direction on what would happen to clubs which have not had proper finances being demoted to lower rung leagues from the Kenya Premier League.

Dropping the Ball? 

It sought to give a clear signal to clubs which have not been able to meet their financial obligations such as paying their players, having concrete contracts for the players as well as functioning secretariat would face such consequences.
The same article estimated each club’s requirement for a season at between KSh.12-15 million. Of this amount, each club is estimated to earn about KSh. 4.4 million from SuperSport who are funding KPL’s activities thus far.
For the last two seasons, we have seen many a club come into the top league but struggle through the season to meet their financial obligations. This season already Rangers FC has been sending red alerts to potential financiers to come to their aid.  They have even contemplated changing their base to create veritable home support in a bid to attract fans to their games.
This is just one of the concerns that KPL needs to address. One of the ways it can aid in this is by securing an overall title sponsor for the Premier League similar to what other leagues in more ‘developed football economies’. This would ensure some more subsidies for the clubs from the KPL in terms of bonuses and assured revenue.

Secondly, the KPL needs come up with a blueprint which would ensure that by the time a club is in the Nationwide League, it is already approaching potential sponsors with the promise of support if they do indeed qualify for the top flight.

Thirdly, with new devolved system of governance, it will be imperative for urban centres in the different counties to come up with social amenities such as stadia, community grounds and related infrastructure. If they can manage to convince a few of the towns which have basic stadia to spruce them up in time and relocate them to these towns, that would build home support for the teams and in longevity ensure wider spread of the game.

Fourth as we saw on Sunday, only a few of the top clubs can muster huge crowds. If the level of competition is enhanced and less emphasis is laid on these top teams, the other teams will also start enjoying sizeable crowds during their games. See what has happened to Sofapaka, Ulinzi FC to name but a few?

Fifth, the security levels at most the games not just the big derby matches but also those in smaller towns leave a lot to be desired. Many a times the Kenya Police are contracted to suppress any crowd trouble but this needs reinforcement from private security personnel.

Sixth, heavy penalties should be incurred by the hosting team in case a game has crowd trouble, no amenities or poor surfaces for the play-grounds. Even the Nyayo National stadium which has been hosting majority of the games! It was downgraded by FIFA due to fan trouble and lack of proper sitting arrangements. It is a no-brainer on this one!

Seventh, both KPL and FKF need to engage professional hands in the management of the game locally. Too many quacks are masquerading as sports administrators but we have seen a rather sorry state of the game at times.  The fact that players can go for months without pay while their managers/team owners ‘roll in 4×4 vehicles’ leaves a lot to be desired. Same applies to player agents and any other personnel relating to club/game logistics. FIFA is always willing to help and are regularly offering workshops and seminars to help with capacity building.

Eighth, since 1995, Kenya has not had club representation at continental level beyond the 1st or 2nd round qualifiers. This is not by accident, its because we have not invested in the game and when we do, it such knee-jerk situations that it fails to make any impact. Lack of proper structures at the top has meant management-by-crisis which has seen us where we are.

Ninth, social media’s with us! But have we used those channels appropriately? As noted by another blogger here. That fans and club enthusiasts can use these channels to hurl abuses at each other is such a sad state of affairs which won’t help bring back the many fans who are yearning to watch live matches.

So going forward, it is bad that the game on Sunday ended the way it did. But if FKF and KPL can pick lessons from this, it can be a new phase for the game going. 

Gor Mahia sacks entire technical team

After a dismal start to the 2012 Kenya Premier League season as well as poor show in the continental challenge, Gor Mahia executive board has sacked the entire technical team led by Cameroon-born Anaba Awono.
Taking over (on an interim basis) will be former Kenyan international Bobby Ogolla who has coached a couple of Kenyan sides including World Hope FC, assistant coach – Sofapaka and also Kenyan national team.
Gor Mahia whose fan-base is one of the largest in the country may have contributed to the speedy sacking as the top officials seek to rescue a season which already gone awry in 3 games played thus far. They also lost the season’s curtain-raiser to Tusker in the SuperSport DSTv Cup.
Of urgency now will be to see if they can salvage a win against Mozambique’s Ferraviaro in the CAF Cup qualifiers needing a 4-goal outright win. There’s also the Super 8 Cup matches coming up later this week with their first game pitting them against arch-rivals AFC Leopards who’re on a winning streak thus far.
A word to might go to the fans who’s expectations are way up there and who’s conduct has been called to question every so often once they lose a match. Shall they rise from the ashes like the Phoenix ? Only time will tell!

Kenya v/s Togo :- Harambee Stars & Football Kenya Federation; who’s fooling who?

Togo is in town and Kenya’s national team is still not stable to the extent of playing their hearts out. In an earlier post this year, Can Kenya find its place in 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, we gave albeit brief notes of what it would take to ensure we’re on track to qualifying for the biggest tournament on the continent. Maybe we weren’t clear enough;

1. Technical Bench – the national coach and his team are still without contracts and there seems to be a perception that since there are not many fixtures within the year, the Federation can get away with appointing an active team manager from the Kenya Premier League to hold forte for the time being. WRONG! As we witnessed last year, dividing time for national and club assignments becomes very tricky when those fixtures fall close to each other. What’s more, preparing a national team is usually the sum of many clubs’ teams so the national coach ought to have travelled and watched his players enough times to warrant their selection to the national team. In the same breadth, sought out the pay issues and remunerate the bench accordingly.
2. Club versus National appearances – while the technical bench will insist on a player having been active at least for the last 3 months before a national team game, it is ought to help when the players have had a semblance of residential training together for at least 5 days. FKF has been trying but not hard enough and as if that is not enough, they have not been facilitating the travel arrangements of national team players especially those from abroad. Why wouldn’t it be resolved each at a time instead of waiting for scenarios of players refusing to report for national duty thanks to unpaid allowances and refunds?
3. Harambee Stars Management Board – since most of the officials who were on the Board seem to be hoping to run for this or that public office, it is only fair that the Board is disbanded and a new team reconstituted. It would also be good for fair share of representation for both ladies and youth percentile in future.
4. Stadium and hosting facilities – the renovation at Kasarani sports complex is taking way too long. While we have enjoyed easy access at the Nyayo National Stadium, the venue’s still in need of better facilities for parking, warm-up for teams playing and general security as well as capacity-wise. On this one, FKF its beyond your call but you can hasten the work by Sports Stadia Management Board.
As you address this, let’s all meet at the Nyayo National Stadium at 1700hours to cheer on our boys against Emmanuel Sheyi Adebayor as they start the long journey to South Africa’s 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.


Probable Squads:
Togo (nickname The Sparrow Hawks)
Goal-keeper: Mawugbe Atsou  Defenders: Dare Nibombe, Senah Mango, Abdoul Gafar Mamah, Serge Akapko; Midfielders: Komlan Amewou, Alaiyxis Romao, Floyd Ayite and Razak Boukari, Strikers: Emmanuel Sheyi Adebayor, Serge Gakpe

Kenya (nickname Harambee Stars)
Goalkeeper: Duncan Ochieng Defenders: Eric Masika, James Situma, Brian Mandela, Pascal Ochieng Midfielders: Victor Mugubi, Jamal Mohammed, Titus Mulama and Humphrey Mieno Strikers: Dennis Oliech, Allan Wanga.

Final Update on Scores: Kenya 2 ( James Situma, Allan Wanga) – Togo 1 ( Razak Boukari)