Monday, 3 June 2013

Kenya Rugby Ruckus ala Philip Jalang'o-style


"This man, Jalang'o, this man!" were some of the words that inspired this blog-post. This was in a conversation with some of the less knowledgeable rugby fans who I regularly meet on the beat and wanted to offer some of the points to clear the air on which have not been addressed since this commotion blew out in May 2013.
Philip Jalang'o - courtesy of www.nation.co.ke


First things first...as the post goes up, Philip Jalang'o stands suspended from his position as a Director at KRU. However he has gone to court to contest this suspension and is seeking to be reinstated stating that his suspension is null and void.

Now back to the rant. For those who don't know much about he was once the Chairman of Kenya Harlequins club - one of the top rugby clubs in the country - where though the team performed relatively well in its outings, was losing out in other club management issues. This includes the transfer of ownership of the club-house bar which had been granted to Shareware and also leaving the club's book in the red with heavy debts. His fellow club officials promptly found him not good enough for the top office and opted not to re-elect him at Quins.

Luckily for him, he managed to wiggle his way into the national board at KRU and has been quite abrasive and at times rash in his decisions. And though the Union has other officials who ought to speak out on the game's developments at a national and international level, Jalang'o has been quite visible eclipsed only by the Chairman one Mwangi Muthee.

Last year after the end of the 7s circuit, he quickly sacked then coach Mitch Ocholla who had only done a year into his coaching contract. It's true the performance of the team had deteriorated and there was not much to write about. However the working conditions had not been as favourable as the coach would have wanted, but that's not for us here to rant about.

Mike Friday who was then relatively unknown by many a Kenyan rugby enthusiast but who had made his name as former England player and England Rugby Union 7s head coach; was announced as the new coach for the Kenyan team. This decision apparently was almost single-handedly decided upon by Philip Jalang'o. Within the same breadth came the sweetener to the deal which was that the shirt sponsorship deal with Gilbert's would be dropped and English sports apparel makers, Samurai Sports would be the new shirt providers. No clear details were given on how this sourced, whether there was a tendering process and quotations made available. It is also said that Jalang'o had business interest with the local operations of Samurai Sports who made the deal possible.

As if to exonerate his recruitment, Kenya started well in the new season of the International Rugby Board 7s series and amassing points to stay lodge in the top 6 going into the break at the first half of the 2012-13 season. However the team was struck with the blow of playing without its mercurial winger, Collins Injera for the crucial ties in the second-half of the season. Injera had been dropped on the charge 'of indiscipline and failing to play for his club, Mwamba RFC'. Though the Board at KRU ended up backing this decision up, word has it, Jalang'o had engineered this move.

Kenya 7s players in Samurai Sports attire
The big one came when early last month Philip Jalang'o sent a release to the Press indicating the firing of Mike Friday a day after the Kenyan team had finished fifth overall in the IRB 7s series amassing 99 points, 1 short of its target for the season. This led to a quick rebuttal by Chair, Mwangi Muthee who indicated that Mike Friday was still in charge and would have his performance reviewed on return to Nairobi with the team. This instead led to his 'firing' by the KRU Board.It is said, personal differences between the two ( Friday and Jalang'o) led to this acrimonious falling out.

With the next major tournament in the Kenyan rugby calendar being the Bamburi Rugby Super Series (BRSS), Jalang'o was still out to prove who's the man running the show. This year's BRSS featured franchises which had new (and rather awkward Swahili names like Nyumbu, Papa ), killing a 10-year heritage of the previous names such as Buffaloes, Cheetahs, Rhinos and Sharks. The selection was also skewed with top clubs making one of the franchises. Nyumbu, a Kenyan franchise made up players from Quins, Nondies and Impala was expected to be the clear favourite and was enjoying the same form going into the semi-finals. However with the ties scheduled for Kampala, Uganda, Jalang'o is reported to have met some of the players and asked them to boycott playing the game. This led to a weakened side showing up at Kyadondo ( pronounced Chadondo) and losing to the Ugandan team, Ruwenzori.

This was along the lines of misinforming participating franchises that the 'BRSS semi-finals were the preserve of pool winners' yet the contract clearly spelt out that 'one semi would be held in Kampala in the event of a Ugandan team reaching the semis with the other being held in Nairobi'.

He has also been rumoured to have interfered with the selection of the national 15-a-side team which is due in South Africa later this month. Add the fact that Kenya Airways will be the shirt sponsors (for a song) instead of negotiating an extension of the deal from the Kenya 7s deal.

Now these are but a few of the allegations that directly relate to his mandate as a rugby club and national official. Other claims include 'greasing the pens' of scribes to get favourable coverage for the game and also to 'kill' any negative stories that might relate to him or decisions made. It is a foregone conclusion that the election and subsequent re-election of Chairman Mwangi Muthee is not something that some like him have ever been inclined to and have sought to make him look indecisive and incompetent as often as possible.


With the current Board looking to exercise it's objectives and with the game still looking as lucrative as sporting events could attract, it will remain to be seen if the elements such as Philip Jalang'o who's motives are not always in the interest of the game, can be banished to sports management Siberia. It would also be imperative for KRU to repair this PR damage and get back into the good books of the sports fans. Sponsors and media companies who are your bread and butter are watching keenly. The fans too are concerned and this will start showing, if these issues aren't resolved soonest.

As for Philip Jalang'o and his ilk, I shall be waiting for the Court to throw out your case and save the game the disrepute that you have brought to rugby. Save yourself the lawyer costs and give way for more competent personnel to run the game. Rugby has been a gentleman's game and for heaven's sake can we keep it as such!

 Disclaimer: This is a guest post from an aggrieved rugby-fan who needed to vent his disapproval of the ongoing sideshows between Kenya Rugby Union and one Philip Jalang'o - suspended Director, National Squads & Elite Performance Committee. Lack of honest coverage and besmirching of Kenya's rugby game led to its genesis. We at SportsKenya believe it is the right of everyone to air their views and tell their side of the story. We also offer those mentioned a chance to either comment or send us their own views at sportskenya@gmail.com. For the good of Sports!    

Friday, 31 May 2013

Can this be the year of Rebirth of Kenya's Basketball?

Many a times a sport in this country undergoes serious degeneration and gets swallowed in the mediocrity of the administration of our general affairs as a State. It is true we can continue moaning about this and sing to the birds till heaven come but nothing changes.
Pres Obam hoops - www.guardian.co.uk

It is with this in mind that some of the administrators in the game of Basketball have decided to change the perception of the game and give it a slow but gradual 'rise from the ashes'. This process started sometime last year when the Kenya Basketball Federation experimented with the Friday Basketball games which became a favourite for those fans who were looking for alternatives in sports entertainment.

Though the Friday games eventually started attracting less crowds ( the idea was being disputed between the federation and a local entertainment company the latter which wanted to own the rights and larger parts of the revenue and not entirely for the interests of the game), this idea can be explored if fine-tuned and well-thought out.

Coming into the 2013 season, the Federation has been in talks and arrangements in place to screen live games from one or two venues as may be decided by the pay TV channels. This is one big shot in the arm that would go a long way in changing the way the viewed in the country. TV does wonders to a sport which is able to organise and attract favourable crowds and audience both 'online and offline'. It would also attract some form of revenues in advertising and promotions which the Federation can use to rebrand and gave the game a new face.

Talking of online, there is also a new magazine developed by basketball enthusiasts who also felt it is about time to talk about the game in its entirety, challenges and all. Titled "Inside B'Ball" it seeks to reach a growing number of sports fans who consumer their dose of sports online. It will also give the game of basketball a wider reach that it has been yearning for. It also good for the Federation to work closely with such entrepreneurs who will offer commercial assistance on ways to generate ideas and revenues for the game.

It's now for Kenya Basketball Federation to start engaging corporate firms and the Government where necessary to ensure that they get better infrastructure across the country - venues, training areas and exhibition areas. This can start with a refurbishment of the Nyayo Gymnasium - the place is need of a serious paint job, better lighting, sound systems and a scoreboard. The court and its surroundings also need a touch and markings to ensure it fits to world standards. It was embarrassing in 2010 when the venue hosted the Street Basketball exhibition games and there was a leak on the roofs.

The only venue which fits the bill is Kasarani multi-purpose gymnasium which is slightly away from town and might not be able to attract crowds as yet due to its proximity and accessibility. Other venues such as the Makande gymnasium in Mombasa would need expansion and better markings to ensure better experience for players and fans alike. Kisumu and Nakuru and any other major towns should look to developing indoor venues for such sports and this will offer alternative forms of entertainment and engagement with the youth.

College Basketball in Kenya - www.basket-in-africa.blogspot.com
Another mention should be the Zuku sponsorship of the Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL). Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, this league was very competitive and saw 2-3 teams from qualify for the national Premier League. This should be followed through by Kenya Basketball Federation to see that they separate college and university teams from the semi-professional and corporate-sponsored teams. This way it will be easier to have a purely professional league and one that has learning institutions. The two would serve a complimentary role with one being a feeder to the other. We have seen that work successfully in more developed leagues such as the NBA and the NCCA College Basketball  in the United States.

Finally, NBA is making in-roads into Africa and it's about time that Kenya got a player or two representing a team from this famed league. There is a liasion office in South Africa closely watching what activities Kenyan basketball is undertaking. There are also the equally well-developed European Leagues in countries like Spain, Greece to name but a few which can come and recruit our talent and offer exposure to our players to the international game.

Can this be the rebirth that Kenyan Basketball has been yearning for?

Friday, 24 May 2013

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...

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Ingwe TV - Smart move or ill-advised?

There has been all the hullabaloo about the AFC Leopards-Ingwe TV deal with Zuku and the concerned club's status with KPL's sponsored by SuperSport. While the easier path is for KPL/SuperSport to feel infringed by the deal, it's in the club's interest to look for alternative sources of revenue and by extension engagement channels. The TV channel which is supposed to screen 36 episodes of half-hour each covering past games, interviews, team news and historical journals. If anything, it has been SuperSport and KPL's personnel sleeping on the job for lack of initiative to engage local clubs on setting up their own TV channels.
Ingwe TV logo - courtesy of www.afcleopards.net

Across the world, major football clubs have their own channels which serve to endear themselves to their fans and provide an added platform for not just engaging with them but also for sponsors, advertisers and related parties to reach the audience.

The main bone of contention is that AFC Leopards playing in the SuperSport-sponsored KPL ( now Tusker Premier League) which sees it enjoy live coverage of their matches and also featured in the weekly football magazine Simba Soccer programme among others. Now if you look at it carefully, this is the same sort of engagement with other clubs in the KPL only that AFC Leopards ( and maybe 3-5 other clubs) would have a rich heritage as that of Leopards affectionately known as Ingwe by its fans.
And though AFC Leopards had earlier tried such a deal with Smart TV before it went under, it is a veritable decision which is bound to cause other clubs to start looking for such alternatives.
If you look at the revenue sources for football clubs in the country, the main ones come from corporate sponsors who still haven't put enough monies to cater for huge expenses incurred by the clubs in its wages, training and youth facilities. The monies from SuperSport are also not enough with the booty shared according to how well the club does on the standings at the end of the season. Ticket sales on match-days are so haphazard and given the apathy that fans are bound to build following recent spates of fan trouble and violence, it is not yet a reliable source.

This leaves clubs such as AFC Leopards with deals such as Ingwe TV. The challenge now will be on its management and club aficionados to come up with regular and relevant content both from current and past games. If they have rich archives of past glory days ( maybe they can have a chat with KBC management...) and also dig through past dailies and other publications, they would be able to create such content. Engaging past players and current ones too would see it provide a source of livelihood and work for these players.

In Zuku , they would be able to leverage not just on the TV channel but also on the Internet and online platforms which would be quite engaging as we see a major shift of users to online and mobile usage across the country and African region as well. It would also help Zuku attract additional customers to its triple play solutions and hence create a win-win situation for both parties.

As we write this KPL has threatened AFC Leopards with suspension unless it cancels the deal but Richard Bell the Wananchi Group CEO ( which is the mother company for Zuku) has said they'll stay put since they didn't infringe on any rights. Hoping sanity prevails between all parties and though commercial interests maybe the main drivers, one without the other will see a loss not just to the club, TV companies but also to the fan who is the ultimate target in the whole of this equation.




Tuesday, 12 March 2013

SportsKenya's Qs & As - Jason Dunford - Premier Kenyan Swimmer

This is our first Qs & As session for the year 2013. We have been working on getting as many sports people both senior and retired to give us a sneak peek into their lives. We were lucky to get Jason Dunford - SOYA Winner, multiple record breaker and the first Kenyan to ever break an Olympic record in swimming in 2008 to talk to us and here are a few of his words;
Jason Dunford
Thanks Jason for agreeing to this Q & A session.
1. 2012 was a good and busy year for Jason Dunford and indeed for Kenya Swimming team. 
a) Give us your main highlights;
Carrying the Kenya flag in the Olympics Opening Ceremony was the major highlight of the year for me. It was a huge honour to be selected for such a role. Unfortunately it may have contributed to me not performing at my best a few days later (I could still feel the exhaustion in my legs) but it was an impossible request to turn down.

 b) Low moments 
Under-performing in my event at the Olympics and failing to make the final having gone into the Games ranked 4th in the worlds.

2. You were part of Team Kenya in the London Olympic Games. How was your experience there and what would you say didn't work for you and swimming team?
The swimming team was comprised of my brother David and me. Being the only two swimmers representing the country in the Olympics was a great honor and feat for us, especially considering it was our second one. However because it was our second Olympics we came into the Games with huge goals and a lot of expectation was unknowingly heaped on us from back home. In the end the pressure affected our performance and neither of us performed at our best. Nevertheless, we know we did all we could in the build up and we are privileged that we got to travel that journey together.

3. 2013 looks like a dour year for most Kenyan sports disciplines, what's your competitive swimming calendar like?
This year I am taking a break from international competition and will forego the World Championships. I am working in California for an electronics recycling company called GreenCitizen (www.greencitizen.com) to help refresh my mind and give me an experience of working life beyond college. However I still train hard everyday and hope to be present at next year's Commonwealth Games.

4. We have you and your brother being integral part of the swimming team for Kenya. Do you see any worth heirs to yourselves?
There are some promising youngsters starting to emerge such as Tory Pragassa, Micah Fernandez and Silvia Brunlenher. They are still young but have the talent to break into the elite ranks of world swimming if they continue to work hard.

5. Talking business side of things now, though you have been one of Kenya's oustanding sports personalities, there are few companies that have come forth to seek your name to endorse their brands or products. 
a) What are your thoughts on this?
I think it has been a very positive step taken by some of our big Kenyan companies. If Kenyans want our sportsmen and women to succeed, business partnerships need to play a central role as they do in other countries. We can't just rely on government support. I was lucky to be sponsored by Davis and Shirtliff and Dormans in the year leading up to the Olympics. Their support was integral to my preparation and I was thrilled to be able to promote these two great Kenyan companies.

 b) What of online presence and visibility?
I try to be visible online through my website, Facebook fan page and twitter (@KenyaSwimmer). However I do need to make a point of more frequent updates for my fans. 

c) Advice to other athletes and sports people?
I thinking the climate is changing and companies are beginning to see the value of associating with our top performers. By working hard, being humble, patriotic and articulate, endorsements should come along.
Ready, steady & dip !

6. Not pre-empting your exit from the sporting scene, 
a) when do you think you'll stop taking a dip from the pool competitively?
After the 2016 Olympics. I am getting married next year and by then I will be at an age when I want to start a family.

b) what do you intend to do once you retire from the sport?
Work in the environmentalism. My current job at GreenCitizen is my first taste of working in a company with a mission aimed at saving the environment. We only have one earth and need to do better in our stewardship of its land water and resources.

c) future of the sport in Kenya?
I want to be involved in Kenya swimming in some capacity as an administrator, coach of advisor. I will jump that hurdle when I finish my career.

7. Give us 5 things; 
a) to change/improve Kenyan sport
More accountability in the administration of sport, less divisive politics and appointments to key positions based on merit and for those who prioritize the well-being of the athlete(s).

 b) change swimming fortunes in Kenya
A year round, indoor, well-maintained central training center.

 c) we did not know about Jason Dunford
 I think most Kenyans know everything about me these days! ; ) >
Thank you

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Game Yetu, SportOn & Kenyan sports publications...shall they manage?

In the last 3 months two of the biggest media houses in Kenya have plunged into the deep end of matters sports by launching stand-alone sports publication. Game Yetu and SportOn are the titles of these sports publications. Each of these will see 2 copies per week with Game Yetu published on Tuesdays and Saturdays while SportOn will be available on Mondays and Fridays.
Sporton, Game Yetu on a reader's table

It's interesting that despite being one of Africa's and indeed world powerhouse in sport, it took publishing houses that long to develop authentic sports publications. And even these have not quite met the threshhold of authenticity and originality since over 75 percent of the content is from online sources and European/foreign leagues. It is good to know what Manchester United is doing to lure Victor Wanyama but wouldn't it be better to understand which club in Kenya made his move to Europe possible?

Bloggers v/s Journalists - who rules the world? 
Still on content, what would have hurt for the editors to consult a few bloggers or online contributors to write in their columns or provide alternative content linking it with their blogs? (not that we're canvassing for ourselves but that how one of the biggest online sports magazine Bleacher Report has gained traction and become an authority in sports). By engaging a popular radio personality who happens to follow a certain English team is only populist and bound to fail in the long run. It would have been better to get an authority in the game and maybe have some kind of face-off with such a personality before every weekend's action ( something like BBC Lawro's Predictions...)
 
Again, while the larger population in the country is still not online, the numbers for publications and newspapers doing well of the shelves and the streets is quickly diminishing ( in fact were it not for elections in Kenya in March, the numbers don't look pretty at all). A 'quick non-scientific' sample from our Twitter handle showed that majority of Kenyans are yet to purchase either of the two sports publications. It also begs the question how sustainable the publications will be. Assuming it's a 28-pager, 7-14 pages would need to be filled by advertisers - how many companies are willing to go that way? The pricing also might be a handicap since not many Kenyans are willing to part with 30/= even if it's twice a week only.
Each of the publications also have online links which are not updated as regularly. In fact as we write this, the SportOn link has not been opening for one reason or the other ....hosting challenges maybe?

Though many will laud these publications, their sustainability and lack of local authenticity will make them projects in futility. It is good for sports in Kenya to receive a shot in the arm but this might need some serious re-evaluation and branding to identify with the larger masses that the papers are hoping to achieve.

Laduuuumaa!
Laduma - image courtesy of www.soccerladuma.co.za
These publications remind me of MwanaSpoti from Tanzania and Laduma from South Africa. The latter is the 3rd largest selling newspaper in South Africa with daily sales in excess of 300,000 copies. Laduma means 'it's in!' or 'he scores!' in the Zulu language. The paper also has a website and mobi link to appeal to a wider online and mobile audience, besides being very active on social media platforms - Facebook and Twitter . It has defied all publishing logic in the country which has seen depressed numbers for newspapers and other publications in the last 5 years as Internet seems to be killing the hard copies!


Saturday, 12 January 2013

Sports Bill - Let's Get Kenyan Sport started

After a 10-year heart-wrenching and sometimes frustrating journey, Kenyan sport will finally get its biggest shot in the arm. As the 10th Parliament prepares to end its stay, the one thing the Kenyan sports fraternity will be grateful for is their passing of the Sports Bill ( it awaits Presidential assent to become law as early as March 2013).
Kenya 50 years on - courtesy of www.1500questions.org
At least our lamentations to our Minister one Ababu Namwamba seems to have borne fruit and history will judge him accordingly.
The Sports Bill had a number of proposals which will among others ensure Kenyan sport changes and is run more professionally as well as addressing the revenue issues which plague majority of the sports bodies.


Check this out;

  • establishment of Sports Kenya Development Authority ( mandated to oversee all sports activities, promote, co-ordinate and implement sports programs and manage sports assets and facilities countrywide among others);
  • establishment of a National Sport Fund ( to raise and manage funds for sports authority as well as advise sports federations on appropriate financial grants among others);
  • establishment of  a National Sports Institute ( to manage sports training facilities, promote research and development, check on current sporting trends and recommend appropriate practices to sports federations);
  • registration and regulation of sports organisations and licensing ( creation of Registrar of Sports organisations, licensing of sports bodies - federation, club or otherwise, inspection of financial records and books among others)
Once the Bill is signed into law, existing sports bodies will have to register afresh and in some cases might have to elect new officials for fresh mandate. This has surely not gone down well with many of the current sports officials. The Bill also prescribes regular monitoring and evaluation of sports bodies through annual reports and returns to the Registrar.

It also offers the Secretary of Sport ( equivalent to the current Minister) to intervene and dissolve a sports body in case of disputes or mismanagement. This again has caused discomfort with some of the federations such as Football Kenya Federation which believe they're beyond any national government interference ( as FIFA honchos have always made national federations feel above the law).
The law has addressed the perennial headache of fund-raising which shall be taken care of by the Sports Fund. This will ensure future national and international representation will have sufficient funds to participate in events and also federations running their affairs smoothly.

But we in Kenyan sport should remain vigilant and ensure that the Sports Law is not just another clause in the Kenyan laws. Just like our legislators, most of the sports officials without interest in the development and growth of sport will fight back and stifle these developments. Law experts tell us that the law doesn't operate in a vacuum and isn't cast in stone - it is in the interests of all those involved to safeguard against its abuse. ( We know that a number of sports bodies campaigned for the removal of the clause limiting the terms of office for sports officials).

As the country marks the golden anniversary and in its over 60 years legacy in international participation in sport, the legislation will pave way for added investment and interest in Kenyan sport. It will ensure professionalism in running sports bodies and see that sport is firmly grounded in case of indiscipline.

Notice is served to all you charlatans running sport! Just like our outgoing MPs, start packing your bags too!

'Useless' Kenya Facts:
The 10th Parliament had quite a number of MPs who have either been sports personalities or managed sports organisations in one capacity or the other. Here are a few noteworthy ones;

  1. Peter Kenneth (MP for Gatanga) - served as Chairman for Kenya Football Federation 1996 -2000( now Federation of Kenyan Football...semantics), played for now-defunct Re-Union as goalkeeper,
  2. Alfred Khangati (MP for Kanduyi )- served as Chairman Kenya Volleyball Federation in the 1990s and
  3. Dr. Sam Ongeri (MP for Nyaribari Masaba)- served as Chairman for Athletics Kenya 1974-84, 
  4. Chris Obure (MP for Bobasi) - played for Gor Mahia in the 1970s ,
  5. Elijah Lagat (MP for Emgwen) - former marathoner who won Boston (2000), Prague (1998) and Berlin (1997) marathons respectively,
  6. John Harun Mwau ( MP for Kilome) - sharp-shooter who represented Kenya in the Olympics in 1968 and 1972 shooting category.
(...if anyone can recall any others, please help us note them)


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Rallying & Africa - Worlds Apart...

Around this time of the year up until 2009, rallying enthusiasts across the world and mainly those from Africa would be cheering for what is the most gruelling and once longest rally in the world,  The Dakar Rally ( previously known as the Paris-Dakar Rally). But thanks to the insecurity at the respective countries borders and route, hostilities from nomadic communities along the North African sides and also the nonchalance of the respective Governments and motor rallying bodies of those countries; all these and other factors got the Rally was discontinued.
Dakar Rally - Logo courtesy of www.dakar.com 

While in its former state, it was a favourite hangout for European and sometimes Asian drivers out for an African adventure as well as a testing ground for car manufacturers for their off-road contraptions. Its combination of the four wheelers and the motorbikes make it quite the ultimate adrenaline kick for any rallying or speed buff.
Now as indicated in 2009, the organisers Amaury Sports Organisation invited bids for interested countries to host the race. This ended up falling to the South American comrades in Argentina, Chile and Peru. It was a perfect fit for the race since there is a combination of the terrain that is similar to what was experienced driving and riding through the Sahara desert and the French countryside. Except there is no famous crossing like there was on the Mediterranean Sea.

The main observation though as seen in previous posts in about rallying in Africa is the fact that world rallying bodies seem to have lost patience and attraction with the continent in the sport. As we write this, there is no African rally on the World Rally Championship for the 11th year running ( the Safari Rally was the last African escapade after the Rallye Cote'de Ivoire was dropped in 1992. The Paris-Dakar was the only other bigger rallying event that traversed African roads until 'we gladly let it drive away'
Some of the factors of the loss of the interests by major car manufacturers and rally organisers is the fact that running a rally has become extremely expensive - from the crew working on the cars, to the fuel and spare parts involved. African governing authorities have also not seen the need to get directly involved in these events and instead institute tax and other major barriers to the event. It might also be said that the fact that most of the rallies originated from the colonial days meant that there was declining investment by the locals in the sport.
More recently though has been the fact that stringent sponsorship measures have meant reduced targets for overall sponsorships - e.g. the banning of tobacco advertising in the 1990s meant that the Safari Rally quickly seeking new overall title sponsors who would bankroll the event.
We have also seen major car manufacturers jump into the sport only to be driven out by the heavy expenses in hopping around the continents of the world. The latest exits saw the Mini ( after only 2 years ) and Ford (from 1992) world rally teams replaced by Hyundai and Volkswagen respectively.  
Another factor that has seen Africa lose out is the fact that there are few media organisations that are willing to take up the costs of covering and airing the WRC rallies. With every sport increasingly turning to the silver screen for major advertising revenue and the exclusive rights, the world of rallying had no option but to follow suit. Except for SuperSport through its mother company Multichoice, there is no big media company that would be able to carry the events with continental reach and a tidy sum for that.
And so as the continent continues attracting investments of an economic nature, it is imperative for the governments and sports authorities to look out for added value opportunities such as sports events provide. Of course, there is need to involve locals and potential sponsors in what the events would bring for them in terms of visibility, uniqueness and exposure to the rest of the world.

But until then, Africa will remain a forlorn relic in the world of rallying.

For more on The Dakar Rally go to www.dakar.com and you can also check this blog www.thedakar.blogspot.com 

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

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!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Can Kenya Rugby 7s sustain the tempo, Mr. Friday?

The 2012-13 HSBC-sponsored IRB Sevens series has started with oomph for the Kenyan team. Last season, the team finished 12th ( last for the initial 12 -core teams) and risked being dropped from the 'core teams' status ( core teams are guaranteed of participation to all tournaments within a given season). Starting this season, IRB has introduced a new set of rules which shall see teams promoted and relegated depending on their final ranking at the end of the season. The series also saw expansion of the initial core teams from 12 to 15.
Back to the Kenyan game, in the off-season, Britain's former rugby player and coach, Mike Friday was hired to bring back some technical expertise and polish the Kenyan game known for its pace and brashness. After missing out on the Safari Sevens shield it seemed like it was 2011-12 season all over again but the last 2 rounds of the series have proved otherwise. So far the team lies joint 2nd overall (with Fiji) with a total amass of 32 points.

South Africa beckons 
The three Kenya 7s Rugby shirts by Samurai Sportswear -
Image courtesy of Samurai Sports
The last event of the series this calendar year in South Africa shall represent a new set of challenge for Mike Friday's charges. First the absence of top try scorer Collins Injera along with experienced hands Biko Adema and Oscar Ouma is bound to be felt. Sydney Ashioya is also out with a hamstring injury. A temporary reprieve is the availability of Humphrey Kayange ( Injera's older brother) who shall be featuring for the national team colours for the first time this season. Call-ups to replace the former include; Billy Odhiambo, Fabian Olando and Oscar Ayondi.

Second, the team has already been seen to be a strong contender for the top 6 finishers and other teams have taken notice. This being the 3rd round you can expect a couple of tactical changes from those teams that have previously looked like walkovers. Though the pool looks favourable with Argentina and Wales being the main threats to clip Kenya's qualification to the Main Cup proper, the battle shall be from the Quarter and Semi-Finals respectively. The Kenyan team has been coming off too close in the finishing and decisive tackles. The conversion kicks have been off the mark especially in the Dubai series. The try-scoring

Third, the South African round is only the third in a 10-tournament series. Can the Kenyan team go the whole hog and sustain these sterling performances? It's been a good thing going but a dip in form might happen anywhere between the Christmas break ( January 2013) and the second one in April 2013. If the boys and technical team keep it together, we've got a good thing going. In any case, if Kenya can gun for a top 6 finish in any of the tournament's that translates to 12 points in the bag.
Points Awarded:
Top 6 finishers in each tournament are awarded points as follows;

  • Cup Winners (1st) -22 points, 
  • Cup Losers (2nd) -19 points, 
  • Cup 3rd-place playoff winner (3rd) -17 points, 
  • Cup 3rd-place playoff/loser (4th) - 15 points, 
  • Plate Winner (5th) - 13 points, 
  • Plate Runner-Ups (6th) - 12 points

Fourth, there was some change in the kit from Gilbey's to the Samurai shirts starting with the Dubai series. This though not a major concern ought to be addressed and finalised by Kenya Rugby Union officials. Shirt sponsorship should ensure that the team has unique identity and also serve to motivate them to improve their performance. There is also the added incentive of monetary amounts if well negotiated. Such details ought to be out in the public domain and not behind boardroom doors.

Fifth, there has been the remuneration and bonuses awarded by the team sponsors' Kenya Airways and also for finishing in the top 4. These monies should be paid as and when available to continually motivate the boys in the team. Donning national colours is a great honour but in this time and age, that honour has a price too. Being a semi-professional team aspiring to become fully professional in the next half-decade, substantive contracts with clear remuneration packages should be in every player's pocket.

Sixth rugby sevens will be premiering in the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. Kenya is one of the likely qualifiers from Africa and should ensure it sends the best team to the Games. Though its early days for that, the building blocks start now since over half the team might not be in the running for a place by then. This goes back to the Kenya Rugby Union officials. Ensure wider reach of the game, rigorous recruitment by the clubs, regular technical and development skills to the retiring players and practising coaches, additional investment through sponsorships and grants from relevant corporate bodies and sports bodies among others.

Finally, the same gusto that has been invested in the 7s game should be translated to the 15s game which is still tottering in Kenya. Remember rugby aficionados believe that a country's worth is known by its 15-a-side strength and depth. Are we working on this?

To Mr.Friday and the Kenyan team, Ngikufisela Inhlanhla in Port Elizabeth !

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Kenyan Blog Awards season - Nomination opens

For the rest of you, it's holiday season but for you in the blogosphere in Kenya, it's awards time! Yes, the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) Awards have opened the nomination for the awards to be given in 2013. If you have a blog, know of one, like one and wish to nominate it, then you can right ahead and do that here.

This year the categories include among others;
1. Best Tech Blog
2. Best Creative Writing Blog
3. Best Agricultural/Environmental Blog
4. Best News Blog
5. Best Sports Blog ( you can nominate yours truly)
6. Best Travel Blog
7. Best Corporate Blog
8. Kenyan Blog of the Year

Nominations end on 1st of February 2013 and judging follows for the top 3 in each category after which the winners will be announced and awarded.{ SportsKenya was among the top 3 nominees for the inaugural awards in the Best Sports Blog category earlier this year}

For more details, check this link by BAKE and also check out the BAKE aggregating page here.  

Jackie JanMohammed, can Kenyan Cricket be re-born?

Congratulations Mrs. Jackie Janmohammed for scoring a first on many counts in the muddled waters of Kenyan sport! It's another milestone for women in this part of the world and also for those in the cricket game. Enough with the pleasantries!

Jackie Janmohammed - image courtesy of AFP

The hardwork starts now. Former Cricket Kenya CEO Samir Inamdar waxed lyrical of leaving the sports association with the whole bag of monies and 'structures'. But his legacy is best underscored by the dismal performances that the Kenyan national team and loss of supremacy among other non-Test nations that were close to the Test playing status.

Another piece of baggage you might have to deal with is the chasm created between the various branches which led to two of the main branches boycotting the elections. This one is not your undoing but the earlier you win them into your fold the better it will be for the game.

There is also another disturbing observation and related to the point of the various branches. Among the top officials, there is not a single representative of the two branches. There is also no representation of what would be called 'indigenous' representation. A cursory look at officials elected in Sunday's elections, none come outside of the Asian/Muslim communities. Part of the causes of the schisms  in the previous office was because of this 'race' issue. It is an unspoken evil but one which continues to haunt the game. The psyche in some of the teams and to some extent in the national team does reflect in their performances. Mrs. Jackie, you will need all the lawyering expertise to sail through these murky waters. It's never a cup of tea but it's the reality on the field.

Some goodwill inherited from the old order is the media rights that were secured with SuperSport to screen some of the East African cricket games. That is another channel you might want to approach for both the local league and national games. TV has been known to transform many a sport and cricket will be no different. Work your magic with the corporates and that balance sheet that Inamdar & Co left will look like a mockery of what revenues and sponsorship you may attract.

Appointing a worthy CEO, another brief waiting for your delivery. The previous CEO Tom Sears left in a huff claiming to have been under security threats among a host of other issues. It will be important that the next CEO comes from a rigorous and all-inclusive process. His/her brief should be delivery the game back to its glory days and ensuring a vibrant national league as well as the reaffirming Kenya's supremacy among non-Test playing nations. There is also the national coach issue. You might want to start that on a clean slate or is it a fresh pair of hands?

The issue of development of talent from the lower rungs and to provide players for both club and country is something else to look into. You might need to borrow a few notes from Mr. Janmohammed who was part of the development team in the early 2000s when the rain starting beating Kenyan cricket hard. You should also involve some of the former and senior players in these development plans. That a player like Maurice Odumbe is still able to put together a tidy number of runs as well as run the field like the days of yore before he was demonised is something to you can use to inspire the younger lads. Kenyan sport has never been known to pay tribute to its former stars but you can change the tide with that in cricket.

Do not sit in the beautiful offices that host Cricket Kenya's office in Ruaraka but do a lot of legwork in the clubs in Ngara, Parklands, down in Mombasa, Nakuru and Kisumu. That way you will learn a little bit more than what those fancy reports may say on paper. You can have a word with some of the groundsmen on those fields. They may know a thing or two that will give you better insights into the game.

Lastly we have 2015 World Cup coming up and Kenya's participation is currently in dire straits as we lie 6th ICC World Cricket League championship, with 2 games to play. The two top teams of this League will automatically qualify for the Cricket World Cup.But this is almost in vain though there is one last reprieve of the qualifying tournament in 2014. If Kenya can finish in a respectable position in his League and get its act together by 2014, we should be the suprise package once again in the 2015 hoping to repeat the heroics of the 1996 and 2003 national teams.

Mrs. Jackie it's your call, score a century or get bowled out!  

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

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.




Thursday, 15 November 2012

Paul Tergat nominated to head National Olympic Committee-Kenya...Good Choice

Having served to the mandatory age of 70 years, Kipchoge Keino is calling it a day at the helm of the  National Olympic Committee of Kenya. He held office since 2000 after taking over from then beleaugered Charles Mukora who had resigned after the Salt Lake City games debacle that rocked the IOC. In the 12 years at helm, Mr. Kip Keino has managed the best and one of the worst of performances by a Kenyan team in country's Olympic history. The most recent bad performance in London is one sticking point.
The speed-cop has also managed to keep steady the NOC-K but being a semi-independent sports body from the local national sports federations and associations, it has not been an easy task. His regular spats with the one of the most powerful sports association Athletics Kenya for example is another of the unforgiving jobs he had to do while as NOC-K Chair.
We shall not enumerate his major undertakings as Chair or shortcomings for now. That's for another day/post. We wish him well as he takes up his position as honorary member of the IOC.
Paul Tergat  - image courtesy of www.runblogrun.com

In comes Paul Tergat. Now if ever there was an athlete who would rival Kipchoge Keino in terms of both national and international appeal, it is Paul Kibii Tergat. He has been on the running circuit until injury and loss of form made him leave the tracks and roads last year. His 5 consecutive titles on the world cross-country circuits, half-marathon and marathon races as well as his memorable but disappointing 2nd place finishes at the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics to another athletics legend Haile Gebreselassie.
Beyond his running exploits he has set up the Paul Tergat Foundation and also set up a private sports marketing firm, FineTouch Communications which handles the SOYA (Sports Personality Of the Year Awards) - an event used to honour Kenyan sports men and women who have excelled within a certain calendar year as well as honour those teams and past heroes too. He has also been serving as a Goodwill Ambassador for WFP- World Food Programme.
And though his sports organisations management may be in doubt, he has cultivated a relationship of mutual respect and honesty with Kenyan corporate firms and sports bodies - a rare feat for many sports people both active and retired. He has also been known to be a consensus builder and has business acumen which he will need to muster to run the NOC-K which still needs regular funding to meet its obligations.
As a former Olympian he did manage to embody the spirit of sportsmanship by not only losing gracefully two times to the same athlete but also cultivating a healthy relationship with his nemesis Gebreselassie. The two took battle from the cross-country tracks to the race tracks in the 10,000m to half-marathons and full marathons. They even broke world records in the marathon between themselves before Kenya's Patrick Makau took the course record in Berlin last year.
We do applaud him on his nomination and do hope the IOC picks him to represent Kenya in the greater Olympics body. It should also be noted that other Kenyan sporting bodies should take the lead of the NOC-K to nominate, vet and elect officials who's track record speaks for itself. Too many charlatans in town are costing Kenyan sport as great fortune and goodwill from their international peers.
Godspeed though to the "Gentleman''  !
  

Monday, 12 November 2012

Gor Mahia hooligans put blemish on KPL Finale

In what had promised to be a tense and exciting final kick of the Tusker-sponsored KPL, there just had to be some people hell-bent on spoiling the party. Well, the script got flipped on this last day and for some fans it was too much to bear. And true not everyone emerges tops but surely its not an excuse to take it out on perceived rivals or innocent citizenry.
AFC Leopards v/s Gor Mahia earlier this year - Image via www.michezoafrika.com

First things first though, we condemn the actions of those Gor Mahia fans who damaged property and other movables on Saturday after their final game against Thika United. Your actions led to the prolonged chaos and unnecessary tragedies to innocent by-standers who had absolutely nothing to do with the game. 

Secondly and this is where we still believe KPL officials still turn a blind eye and deal with Gor Mahia club with kid gloves, condemnation and punishment should come in HARD. The club has its share of troubled matches and this past season was no exception. There was some semblance of punishment but KPL and Sports Stadia officials bulked down at some point due to shrinking revenues. But what good does it do when a single club's fans threaten an entire league's future just because of some few bad elements? If points have to be docked or games played in empty stadia, so be it...ili iwe funzo!

Third, many ardent Gor Mahia fans are quick to excuse themselves and say that those causing problems are thugs and not anyone associated with the club. But isn't it a familiar trend, draw or lose a crucial game and some form of chaos comes from the proceedings of post-game activities? Out of 16 teams in the Kenya Premier League, which club has the highest incidence of fan trouble, riots, property damage etc? The record speaks for itself, season in, season out.

Fourth, internally the club's officials have to ensure they identify and weed out elements who keep repeating these unnecessary activities. In leagues such as the South American and European leagues, hooligans have been identified by respective clubs officials and blacklisted by security organs who share these across borders. Though not entirely weeded out, clubs which deviate from a semblance of order are heavily punished and thus officials have decided to be pro-active unlike their counterparts here.

Fifth, for once we agreed with FKF officials who had advised for the game to be moved to Kasarani Stadium on Thika Road ( good god it didn't happen, otherwise the renovated grounds would have been defaced ...maybe.... But Gor officials pleaded with KPL and SuperSport for the game to remain at City Stadium. Except for the artificial turf that was installed, those grounds are not fit for a game of such magnitude. Nairobi City Council (will it exist as is or does it change to County of Nairobi???)or whoever is in charge of the grounds needs to close for a year or so, make proper sitting spaces, proper security arrangements and lighting(floodlights), parking lots and access points and move those hawkers surrounding the stadium. And any day it hosts such a match have proper security systems and traffic regulation.

Sixth it is tragic that the very same political elite that seek to identify with the club do not condemn and make the bad elements stand out when they cause such destruction. Let's not lie but the club gets its largest followership from one of the Kenyan communities but that doesn't mean it doesn't have other fans from other communities. Thus the politicians may go easy on the Gor 'fans' for the fear of antagonizing a valuable voting bloc asset. That our politicians have perfected the smoke and mirror acts has also pervaded our sports scene and it's something we will either learn to live with and suffer for it or deal with it before it takes our football back to the doldrums.

Seventh, sections of the media have not been active enough in condemning and/or calling those charged to take more responsibility on such activities. We have heard that some sports editorials are compromised before stories are aired either for fear of reprieve from sports administrators who 'grease' those in the take with freebies, tickets or accreditation to international events. These are elements who are putting our sports scene in serious doubts. What happened to the proverbial 'voice of reason'? For those of you who think hooliganism is a way of sport, then we should stop humouring ourselves that we are helping the game. Hooliganism and its associated acts is bad for any sport and should be rooted out of Kenyan sport before it develops strong roots. It's interesting that a game like rugby which is known to associate with toughness and rugged players and who's majority of fans indulge in alcohol but are some of the most disciplined and gentle ones you'll ever come across. Maybe there is something we can learn from our rugby counterparts.

Oh and by the way Gor Mahia is facing AFC Leopards in an FKF Cup in a few days time, wonder what shall pan out of this derby? 

For those wishing to engage in further literature you can read this link here on Soccer Violence in South America's Argentina. You can also check this on Hooliganism in the UK. We sampled the following Twitter comments and views on the post-match activities; {and the views contained therein are not in any way endorsements or approval of this blog's views and as such should be treated independent of the same}
@AKenyanGirl If #KOTs can make a stand against MPigs, we can and should do the same to #GorMahia. Say no to terror and murder in the name of football

@mmurumba Love for football can never be justified by hooliganism. #GorMahia shouldn't be allowed to participate in #TPL if they can't accept defeat. ‏

@LukoyeAtwoli #GorMahia fans who make political statements (Gor, Obama, Raila), then complain when violence is blamed on ALL these are being disingenuous

@‏LarryMadowo I'm ashamed to be a #GorMahia fan. Which doofus supporters cannot accept a loss without violence? Plonkers still stuck in the Stone Age, nkt

@MauriYambo Leaders who bask in #GorMahia's glory days but 'hide' when hooligans flood the streets R doing us all a disservice. Time 4 serious man-talk!

@4lifestan A lot have been said concerning the #Gor eventful day, but if the end justifies the means, the club have a lot to ponder on a serious note.

@doreenapollos: Then you see juvenile #Gor fans posting rude tweets in defence,not knowing that rude attitude isn't helping but stamping the hooligan's view ‏

@pmusesya If @robertalai wasn't a #Gor fan, he would be tweefing and condemning and leading a movement against them...oh well, (shrugs) ‏

@suehlawrie This #Gor issue is about thugs and criminals who CHOOSE to attend Gor matches. It does not mean they are Gor fans. Fans respect their clubs.

@mosemogeni It doesn't matter how big or small the club is, if ur fans are criminals, bring them to justice. #Gor ‏

@kachwanya Football is awesome and at the end of week people get something to be excited about but at the end of the day..it is just a game..