Tuesday, 30 June 2009

CECAFA Club Championships 2009 -Sudan

While the Kenyan local scene dithers, the regional club scene raises the tempo starting today with the annual tournament today. Kenyans representatives include Tusker FC who are also the defending champs, along with Mathare United. These two clubs have been more consistent locally than most in recent times.
But comparing them with the competition they are upto will be no easy task and the local scene has not helped either. Much bickering between Football Kenya and KPL has seen the football standards dwindle compared to last season. The management has also been a round of chairs with TuskerFC most affected. Mathare have also struggled this season currently lying at 9th in the KPL.
The tournament organisers have put a good job forward and from images coming for Sudan, the pitches look favourable for play. The prize money has also been raised from the annual US$ 60,000 with the Sudanese company El Merreikh adding US$ 600, 000. Winners will take home $50,000 , 2nd place $ 30,000 and 3rd place $ 20,000.
The clubs representing their countries look formidable especially KCC (Uganda), El Merreikh and El Arab(both from Sudan-home advantage) and TP Mazembe ( Congo DRC) who have been invited to replace Ethiopia and Eritrean withdrawals.
I hope KBC will consider screening some of the matches ( freebie Kenyan in me). I do also hope CECAFA can secure sponsorship for the Senior Challenge Cup which is scheduled for later this year after the withdrawal of the now-defunct GTV who were the sole sponsors.
It ought to be a fairly well-attended affair if some of the countries do indeed qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations since the World Cup qualifiers have shown none of the countries in the region will qualify thus far.

Samba Boys in Kenya...


Either we're still in April 1st or some prankster was playing one on me, according to unconfirmed reports, the victorious Brazilian national team was scheduled to visit the country for a couple of commitments including a luncheon at the famed Carnivore Restaurant.Well, I'll hold my breath for now and wait for further confirmations but I thought there would be at least one of the teams from the Confederations Cup making a stop-over at the hub of East and Central Africa. Guess we're not up to it yet...

Kaka- I'll see you when you get there.

More Money More Problems ?

Last week, Athletics Kenya held the National Championships which though had a low profile, were fairly successful. The organisation seems to enjoy some measure of success enough to attract corporate sponsorship-the latest being the National Bank of Kenya's Sh. 16 m deal-for the junior, youth and kids athletics programme.
According to media reports, this sports organisation had a surplus of Sh.22 m last financial year despite being the busiest association. I believe in terms of financial muscle, they command the most for local sports organisation.
But despite this, there seems to be some under-currents with the officials wrangles simmering quietly. This was brought about by the candidature and subsequent election of David Okeyo-the current Secretary General and now Vice-Chair National Olympics Committee of Kenya-NOCK. The latter is a powerful sports body in the country drawing affiliation to the International Olympics Committee which is almost any sports official's dream to manage.
The current chair runs the organisation roving like a colossus and not entertaining any dissent. Okeyo's election didn't go down well with him and has since been on a silent licking of the wounds and he tries to outdo his junior.
My concern is that these internal wars will eventually spill onto the scene when the country least expects it. We have the World Athletics Championships in August. The country has amost certainly lost the bid to host the Junior contintental championships which the association ought to have secured given the good rapport enjoyed with the Government officials.
I have said before for us to secure the interests of our sportsmen and women, we need to run these organisations more professionally and allow more transparency to occur. That way we save more than a fair share of funds committed and the country's image is secured in the same vein. Well let's see how far this goes....

Additional Information:
The AK had last year published their annual report complete with a financial report for public consumption- for the year ended 31st December 2007. This year they have scanty information on a badly developed and maintained website ( must have cost less than 150$- to develop and host).
According to media reports, they have sponsorships of Kshs.4.5m from New KCC for the national trials, sh. 4.6m from KCB for the national cross-country championships, sh. 7.5m from StanChart for the Nairobi Marathon and now the 16m from National Bank. There must be some unmentioned monies from sponsors like Nike and the IAAF grants.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Confederations Cup: Labour of Love for South Africa

Vuvuzela...crime and the samba boys seem to be the main headlines from Africa's 1st Confederations Cup. There are many things that we can write about but from the pitch I have watched top notch games, better than some international competitive games. Maybe I'm biased here being African, but it seem the Confed Cup is finally becoming more than a formality for most teams.
Logistics and infrastruct
ural problems aside, South Africa has shown it can hold its own in hosting a major sports events. Though FIFA chief Sepp Blatter had to make available free tickets, given the prior 'non-significance' given to the event, I can't place too much credence to that argument. The security issue, I see some sensationalisation with that too but the SA authorities need take that into consideration. Pres. Zuma had better arm his people with enough 'umshini' by 2010. They can't repeat such incidences like what happened to Egypt and Brazil players however much hotel authorities may play down the issue.
The European kings made it known their intention to win the Confed Cup (and they are my favs), qualifying with 3 clean sheets.
They seem to building strength upon strength and the game against South Africa was my best example of their tactical choices. Considering they are even without their top midfielders in Senna and Iniesta, any team ought to shiver at the thought of meeting them.
The Brazilians on the other hand survived an onslaught from the Egyptians and they have seemed shaky at the back but they have devastated opponents with their counter-attacks.
(Image courtesy of Adidas)
The Final for me should be Spain vs Brazil though Spain vs South Africa would be ideal for ticket sales and acceptability across the continent. But then again, this is football and anything can happen. Come Sunday and we shall be crowning new Confederations champions !
Dempsey breaks Spanish defence a second time- Image courtesy of Getty Images

US beats Spain 2-0; well again against the formbook, Obama's boys did the unthinkable and reached the Final of this unpredictable tournament. I eat humble pie for not even considering them as favourites. Now my critics are piling attacks saying it's the grass that does the talking on any particular day.
On a positive note, this creates a fan-base wider than the usual European audience. If winning the ConFed Cup is bound to make the game more appealing to the Americans then let it be. More incentive for Pres. Obama to come to Africa next year if the US qualifies for the World Cup...

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Athletics:- African Championships in 2010, what is going on?

While the restof the sporting fraternity is focussed on the 2010 World Cup, we have a small matter of the African Athletics Championship which we ought to be thinking about. From media reports, we might as good as not hosting it thanks to the ongoing squabbles between the Ministry of Sport and Athletics Kenya officials.
When Kenya was awarded this honour, it goes without saying ,it was long overdue just as it was with the 2007 World Cross-Country championships. Even though we didn't win the individual races, the event had the impact of changing the fortunes of Mombasa and the country in hosting sports events. But as we lost our senses come the Elections, we seem not to have woken from that slumber.
The current Minister, who I'm increasingly seeing as a handicap to sports in Kenya has made it known that she has not been properly briefed by the former Minister. The Government has also remained mum about any funds committed towards the event. By now an organising committee ought to be in place, having visited previous hosts and looked into ways of improving on that offering.
We also need to appoint more accountable officials not like what we had with the World Cross-Country championships where they took more than 6 months to produce a dubious report which seems to have been forgotten, thanks to the rubbing of hands here and there.
As for Athletics Kenya, I said here before, we are stuck in a rut in terms of developing new ideas for the discipline. What do you expect when officials have monopolised offices for the last decade?

Surfing Sevens !

(Photo by Daudi Were)
Over the weekend Kenya entertained a host of teams who came forth to play the Safari Sevens which formed the foundation of one of the blossoming sides of the game in the IRB Series. Most of the Kenyans would applaud this which I would to given the height it has taken the game to.
But I believe we are becoming complacent in the event.
Why do we need to keep inviting sides which we know all too well we are going to beat? Why have the Emerging Boks from South Africa instead of engaging the Springboks proper? We can not claim to be competitive when playing lower cadre teams.
Secondly I think most of the corporate sponsorship which came by was misplaced. Everyone wants to the 'official' this or the 'official' that...there was almost Official Air-supply for the Tournament . What these corporates need to do is negotiate with the KRFU and see how they can commit to a certain aspect of the tournament. Say for instance, sponsor air tickets for visiting teams. This way we can see more competition and meaningful sponsorship.
Thirdly, I think it's about time, the organisers looked into expanding the venues to accomodate bigger crowds and also improve the surrounding infrastructure. The chaos that characterises the venue and the roads leading to the venue are despicable. If the KRFU is to hope to host the Safari Sevens as part of the IRB circuit, they must look into this.
This leads me to ask if they are waiting for a miracle or have they beckoned the IRB for inclusion in the circuit. Though we are some way into the top 4 teams of the IRB Sevens series, we can start working towards inclusion. This can be justified with the continued improvement in the teams' performance and the passion of the players. We can't say we have a local professional league yet to develop the talent needed for the same but we are some way into it, that's KRFU's job again. The lads need to become proper professionals and teams can work around developing the game by having 7s teams in their roster.
That much said, we need to look beyond pleasing local fans and having one drunken weekend. As Tall said, the challenge now for the team is maintaining the performances we have seen in the last 2 seasons. It will be harder now since teams will be on the look-out for us.
Over to you, Mr Omwela !