Friday, 22 February 2008

Kenyan Football Charade

It never feels good when you wish the inevitable doesn't happen but it does. Fate has a way of playing serious games with our lives but then again, I'm no player but the pawn too.
KFF and the on going charade of non-payment of fees leaves the Kenyan representatives to Africa's equivalent of the lucrative Champions League, Africa Cup Winners Cup which is nowadays called CAF Champions League. The reps, Tusker FC were forced to cancel their opening game last weekend owing to non-payment of fees owed to CAF amounting to arnd Kshs. 455000 (US$6500) !
Funny enough, Tusker FC had hosted their opponents Eritrea's Al Tahrir for close to a week with total expenses totalling around KSh.5 million ( approx. US$ 72000). Do your maths and see the logic in hosting a team and preparing hard on the pitch only for the game to be cancelled.
I hate sounding like some broken record but we didn't expect any miracles from the officials perceived to be heading the KFF, honestly I can't tell who runs what and which official heads which department. They keep changing the scene with one team of officials claiming legitimacy ( almost like our politicians....) and others waving the FIFA wand.
What bothered me was the Tusker FC management and Tusker Sports division. This was a clear show of lack of co-ordination and initiative. I thought they had professionals run these organisations, but then again this is Kenya where even the perceived pros do a lousy job especially in sports( remember Maina Kariuki & his Powerpoint presentations when seeking office 10 years ago?). To make it worse, the sports director at Tusker Sports one Mr. Patrick Naggi , who coincidentally doubles up as the KFF Technical Director of Football kept making conflicting statements about the game up until the last minute. ( Btw,Tusker FC coach is also the national team's head this monopoly or what?). Sadly there were some fans who even showed up without prior knowledge.
What role does FIFA play in all this ? One day, they announce funds available for FIFA Goal Project and the next we have officials who are hardly ever seen messing the game.
Some local rumour has it that this is a turf war between CAF's supremo Issa Hayatou and FIFA's Sepp Blatter. Since they never see eye to eye, the local federation can offer a nice tug-and-play for their proxies. And in effect you might see a whiff of the same since some officials seemed to know the non-payment of the fees but somehow waited for some leeway from FIFA which didn't say a word and had to follow CAF's lead.
Now chances of Kenya being a strategic partner in the FIFA World Cup 2010 seems to be slimmer by the day. What with the crisis that happened, we really do not need any shocks to the system. But with such goons for officials, we're be headed straight for the dogs and the scraps and bones thrown at us.
Can anyone out there lend me a spaceship or something ? What happend to the Moon tourism thingy? I think there are some people who urgently need that visit and may the ship breakdown up there or where ever !
KFF launched their website, logo and portal for the coming year. Lucky to have SuperSport on board, this would have been another failed mission. Given the crisis at hand politically, even the sports officials seem to be staggered too in development. Check it out

Friday, 15 February 2008

African Cup of Nations

Yes it's over and the Egyptian Pharaohs crowned Kings ( sort of double word play there!). Thanks again to small wonders of sports, my fellow countrymen were able to divert their attention from the miseries of the country's and continent's crisis. Is it me or does Africa always have to shot itself in the foot all the time? One crisis after another with almost similar patterns and similar players. International community condemns only after having served up the appetites or whipped up passions...I digress !
The Ghananians did host this event which occurs after every 2 years and this year the teams playing up were looking good. Add to that most of the European-based players had been recalled to play major roles in their teams' fortunes. Funny though the team that won has more players playing in their domestic league. What does that say of the African leagues ?
The formbook had Ivory Coast looking like the best team but that was on paper. Ghana too had been touted to give the Cup a kiss at least for the first time infront of their home fans. Some really cocked up analysts even gave the Nigerians a chance but again the game is played on the pitch not on paper.
A couple of suprises (though for me were looking good) were the Angolans who made it to the quarter-finals to be knocked out narrowly by eventual winners Egypt. Cameroonians too rode the wave and managed a Final place but they had survived long enough.
A few issues though came up for food for thought as I watched the games;
1. TV rights- from the audience available, is African football ready enough to appeal to the greater world audience ? Does it have what it takes to sell the brand to greater audiences ?
2. Frequency- does it have to be every 2 years ? That's why some of the foreign club-based coaches are not amused when their players leave training only for some to come back nursing long-term injuries.
3. Host's capabilities- the usual stories of unco-ordinated activities such passes for media players, transport, security came into play once again.
4. Endorsements- was it just me or did any one notice that Puma was like the ONLY company that had sponsored the teams playing ? From hosts Ghana, Cameroon, Angola to eventual winners Egypt. Wherefore art thou Nike, Reebok, Adidas ? Or are the games too small for your take ?
5. Youth development- except for Manucho from Angola and Zidan from Egypt and a few minor players, where the youthful players always waiting in the wings to rise to the occassion? Wasn't this the best stage to show your skills as the scouts ( and some prominent soccer personalities, was that Jose Mourinho I saw?)
6. 2010- What does this portend for South Africa which seeks to host the 2010 World Cup ? Will they manage to sort the stadia problem in time as well as the necessary infrastructure? Goodwill from fellow African countries ?

Kenya Rugby takes a quick upturn !

I'd almost posted an article a week ago to admonish our rugby players and say this or that about prevailing circumstances. Wrong move !
I'd to take appreciation and feel honoured as I saw the same guys post a hiding to top IRB 7s teams such as England and Argentina. It was not lost to some observers that they had performed dismally at the Wellington 7s in New Zealand a week earlier. Given that and the current low morale among locals due to political issues bugging the country, it was their chance to rise to the occassion.
That they did and I was so proud to see all those Kenyans abroad and other fans rally them to an amazing semi-final place against top dogs New Zealand. The fairy tale had to come to an end and they even lost the shield final. But it was not lost that these boys had given a good account of themselves.
Our boys had to endure some humiliating moments when the England team refused to share a dressing room with our brothers ( guess the activities of December were still vivid to some of those who had watched machete-wielding men run around parts of Kenya on the TVs).
In my small humble opinion, I'd say we'd need more sporting events to keep our countrymen together in these times that the country seems to hang on threads. I'll not be the pessimist but I feel the situation is still fluid. We'd be better placed to get on with nation building and get together as country. Sports does this in a magical way (am I repeating myself or something ?). I'd give examples like the Irish ( who have Protestants & Catholics swearing on each other but uniting to be nationalists during sports events), Iraq & Afghanistan where sports has helped provide some pride to their countrymen e.g. Iraq were crowned Asia Cup winners last year and for awhile the only gunshots were those of men celebrating their team's historic victory. Kenyans arise !
As for the next round in Hong Kong, godspeed patriots and keep our flag up there for the good reasons.
Kenya places 6th with 24 points on the IRB rankings just below Argentina with 24 points.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Kenya- Celebrity, Parody or Tragedy

For so long now, I had lost my muse and lacked the motivation to make any contributions on this blog. It never feels better when expecting the populace to rise beyond their primitive nature to be true patriots but again who am I taking about?
Well for those with a whole array of media-TV, radio, Net and any other information spewing tool, would know by now where Kenya is on the world map after the December debacle.
OK it maybe for the wrong reasons but my skewed thinking says it was a long time coming but for sure it had to come. While I’ll not dwell on the trivialities of what went won and what might still be going on, I’ll say it’s a time when all and sundry should sit, reflect and think seriously who we (here WE being Kenyans) are, where we are –having come through the times of our forefathers and where we maybe ( if we still exist i.e.).
I quote what an interesting speaker said sometime back, “Kenya as a country/nation has never been born. We’ve been at labour for some years now and while we may want to keep pushing the pains, nature will take its course and a time has come when we’ll either be delivered and be born or be still-born!”
Najivunia kuwa Mkenya!