Friday, 22 July 2011

AFC Leopards v/s Gor Mahia - Kenya's Celebrated Football Derby

This football derby never ceases to excite the slightest of football enthusiast in the country. You can even ask SuperSport which bulked from the pressure of these old foes. Ironically the two teams fans have been some of more indisciplined ones in the Kenya Premier League in the 2011 season.
Well another lingering issue was the postponement of the game twice once due to the Super 8 games and the second due to the rugby game featuring Zimbabwe and Kenya at the Nyayo National Stadium. It was also a blessing in disguise for the teams since now they both get a chance to woe their ardent fans & potential ones back to the stadiums.
It has been a mixed bag again with both teams not performing to their bet and AFC Leopards suffering more and currently languishing in 12th position while Gor Mahia lies mid-table at 5th position. A win for Gor would place them at 3rd while a win for Leopards would jump them to 8th position.
All the same, it will be another of the major highlights of a sporting fan's weekend. Make way to your nearest G4S centre and buy your ticket. The security concerns and the logistics in place are to ensure there is no repeat of a stampede or fracas of any kind.
May the best team win!

All-Africa Games 2011 - Is Kenya ready for Continental Take-over?

2011 sees the start of what ought to be a busy 2 years for most sporting associations in the country. Yes we have the continental championships in the form of All-Africa Games this year being held in Maputo (official site here) starting us off. The next major sporting event is the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London - a major one since Britain are Kenya's former colonial masters...
Back to the All-Africa Games, over the years, these Games have enjoyed or lost their glare depending on the country hosting them and again because the prestige attached to the Pan-Africa games have been eroded by more commercially lucrative sporting events for the different sporting disciplines.
Again the secretariat that run the AAG have not been able to get the Games to be a major attraction to the continent's different states. As is often the case with most African states saying or promising one thing and actually doing another, the same has been the case with AAG. Remember that fiasco that almost became of the 4th All-Africa Games with Kenya hosting the continent 9 full years after 2 postponements?
The current Games were handed to Mozambique after initial hosts Zambia were unable to host due to lack of funds. Even current hosts Mozambique have their own challenges with them not having a hockey pitch worth hosting international games.
So what chance does Kenya have of topping the tables at the AAG?
The best performance the country has enjoyed was back in 1987 thanks of course to hosting them. That year and the build-up to the Games produced some of the best years for Kenyan sport with the national football team being a regional powerhouse & almost beating Egypt in a controversial final game ( we must remember that is the same year that Gor Mahia achieved continental supremacy in the club Africa Cup Winners Cup - Nelson Mandela Cup). The athletics team was able to hone skills that aided them in the 1988 Summer Olympic Games where we harvested 4 gold medals.

The boxing team 'The Hit Squad' was in no nonsense moods and collected 10 out of a possible 12 gold medals and went on to produce Africa's first gold medal at the Korea Olympics thanks to the late,Robert Wangila Napunyi.
Other success stories were the hockey team was represented Africa albeit with no win at the 1988 Olympics; a medal in tae-kwo-ndo & also the emergence of Kenya's women's volleyball from their male counterparts.

24 years later, the dynamics have changed drastically. We have the usual shenanigans of lack of funds, more corrupt sports officials and vested interests among a myriad of challenges. The Sports Ministry has announced that Kenya will be represented in 19 disciplines out of the possible 23, laudable so far. But that's almost where the good news ends.
Of all the sporting teams, the athletics one is the only one which conducted competitive and transparent team selection. Most of the other associations are plagued by disagreements over team selection, availability of funds and officials. Take a case of the boxing team, officials are busy suspending each other, while the game has lost its place in the national sporting scene. Where the team was enjoying participation to continental and international championships such the King's Cup in Bangkok, there is no team worth talking about. The last time we sent a team to the Commonwealth Games it was some embarrassment with most of the boxers not able to keep up with modern scoring techniques and really no punching worth their gloves.
Look at the hockey,basketball, tae-kwon-ndo teams to name but a few. Pathetic to say the least...
The Assistant Minister of Sports announced that there would be no joy-riders on the teams going down south.
  • Good pronouncement but aren't you the people charged with the responsibility of securing the nation's interest for the good of our sportsmen and women?
  • Except for Athletics Kenya, Kenya Rugby Union, how are the other sporting bodies even still in existence? If not trying to give a semblance of a league, most are walking ghosts with officials out to enjoy office trappings for their own selfish gains and allowances leaving bankrupt bodies.
  • What sense is there in carrying a bloated team in the name of representation & national pride instead of a few well-selected and competitive teams which are almost certain of securing victory in their disciplines?
  • Mr. Minister Sir, even in our beloved athletics we have seen the national team selection take place only for our brothers and sisters to go falter at the continental stage after mismanagement by their agents and lack of proper training schedules. What plans do you have in place to ensure this doesn't happen?
  • You have done great to change the lot for sporting people and teams going for national representation. Great that you are committing KShs.200 million of the 300 meant for preparing the contingent to Mozambique. But do you usually insist on comprehensive reports from these assignments and do you ever act on them anyway?
  • All-Africa Games should be the breeding ground for our teams to shine on the bigger international stage at next year's Olympic Games. What is the Government doing to improve on previous performances and restore Kenya's pride on that stage?
  • We had our swimmers do a great job in Algiers in 2007, Beijing 2008 and last year in New Delhi. Do they stand a chance of winning more medals and making us even more proud in London next year?
Answers to this questions will mean our participation in Maputo will not be another joyride and restore some pride to the country as well as ensure nurturing budding talent which is waiting in the wings. Anything short of those answers and Bwana Waziri, you shall be carrying 200 athletes and 200 officials busy on a sight-seeing trip and learning the local Portuguese dialect more than national duty.
It's your call!

Check our earlier post on 2007 All-Africa Games as well as SportsNewsArena's article on 2011 AAG.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Moi University to offer Sports Management - Good Progress ...

This is a most laudable move by one of the public universities in the country. We at SportsKenya had thought that some of the more established higher learning institutions especially the private ones would have taken a lead in this. No sweat maybe some have something in the works.
It has also been a labour of love for sports entrepreneurs who need to hone their skill in sports business and management of this oft overlooked but lucrative industry.

A causally look at sports and the business around it in Kenya and the African region, we have a serious deficiency in training of skilled people to manage sport. Suffice to say, much of the rot in sport can blamed on lack of formal structures upon which sports administrators can hone their skills in building viable sports teams, entities and ultimately brands.
A few South African and also one Egyptian higher learning institutions have been offering these sports management courses such as UNISA, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and Cairo University (the latter 2 of these having been selected to carry FIFA/CIES programme).
Such programmes can be used to provide practical skills from retired or active sports people who can be perfect sounding boards for the budding talent that is waiting in the wings. Who wouldn't want to learn a thing or two from past heroes; Kipchoge Keino, Douglas Wakiihuri, Benjamin Ayimba, Steve Tikolo and many of our retired heroes. It can also provide a nice incubation nest for development of cutting edge products for use in sport. See what Nike has been able to do? (in any case it was borne out of an individual's zeal to succeed on the track and his institution believed in him...)
Moi University kudos! It is a great step forward and should believe as earlier stated more higher learning institutions can take this up. Surely there is room for diversity in your programmes. We're watching...

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Kenyan Sporting Families: Now you know where the pedigree comes from

Tikolos, Dunfords, Sudis,  Ilakos, among many others are household names in the Kenyan sporting scene . Yes as you may noticed, most of them had plurals because there is more than one member of the family that has made their cut in different sporting discipline or more than one member makes the cut in a particular sport.
Take for example the Tikolos; a few weeks ago we saw the end of an era when the last of the cricket playing brothers from the Tikolo family, Steve retired from the sport after gracing it for more than 15 years having won many hearts in the country and across the seas. His other famous brothers who also one time held the position of Chief Executive at Cricket Kenya Tom and also former player David.
Other famous siblings in cricket include the Sujis (Martin and Tony), Obuyas (Kennedy, Collins and David) Ngoches ( James and Shem) and the Odumbes (Maurice and Edward).
The Obuyas - Image from

The Ilakos you ask? Well there was a time Kenya played for the African zone of the Davis Cup in tennis. One of the players playing for Kenya was Philip Ilako (nowadays he’s MD of some mid-level bank I guess). The other playing Ilako was James.
Dunfords, who doesn’t know the exploits of these brothers in the pools of the African Swimming Championships, All-Africa Games, Commonwealth and also the Olympics (albeit briefly). Jason is the trailblazer with David spoiling for a place on the podium slowly but surely. Their other less famous brother Robert plays rugby in the UK where’s attending college.
From Left - David & Jason Dunford with a lady & gent fan - Image courtesy of it

Rugby has many household names but the current ones taking the lion’s share are Humphrey Kayange and Collins Injera while their younger brother Michael has some uphill task trying to make at least the national team like the two elder ones. Their father is also a former rugby player back in the day.
We have Daniel Rudisha one of the gold medallists in the 4x400m Munich Olympic Games whose son David Lekuta Rudisha did one better breaking the world record and literally scorching the tracks last season in the IAAF circuit to emerge as World Athlete of the Year as well as Kenya’s Sportman of the Year.
The family that is hogging much of the media’s attention now is the Wanyamas. The matriarch one Noah Wanyama started it all playing with AFC Leopards and also the national team Harambee Stars. His sons have followed suit with Sylvester –Sony Sugar, Thomas – Sofapaka FC , with Victor Mugabe making history as Kenya’s first football player in the Scottish League signing with Celtic FC and of course the most famous of the Wanyama’s MacDonald Mariga Wanyama Inter Milan’s FC defensive midfielder. Their sister Mercy Ayitso has also recently obtained a scholarship in the California Baptist University which plays in the NCAA women's basketball league.
As has happened in other sporting fields, these families have led the way in winning accolades for their clubs, countries and securing honour and a place in history. For all you seeking a firm place in sport and have a sibling or two in one or another game, you have it written and trendsetters to learn from.
Collins Injera & Humphrey Kayange perform a celebratory dance after a try

As a country, we also have to learn to honour our sporting heroes something we have not always done all too well. Their place to some of us sporting enthusiasts is forever etched in our minds and firmly in the history of our country.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Mitch Ocholla IN & Ben Ayimba OUT, Kenya Rugby 7s turns new page

Not entirely suprised by the breaking news and surely not the names bandied around. After a dismal 2010-11 season, the Kenya Rugby 7s team was bound to feel the heat and the first victims are the technical team. Again given the new office in Kenya Rugby Union, something(s) must give and they are turning out to be quite a number.
Mitch Ocholla (coincidentally played in the same 7s team with Ben Ayimba in the early 2000s, see here) has been propped to take over the 'hot seat'. Having played for the national 7s team though leaving prematurely thanks to nagging injuries and previously helping develop a worthy team in the name of Strathmore University Leos; Ocholla in our humble opinion has a lot of going for him to take over.
He also served as coach for Kenya's second string 7s team Shujaa in the last 2 years. A fair performance given the lack of playing time the team is accorded.
Image courtesy of

True the national team has some of the biggest stars whose egos need to be checked , lack of concrete structures such as latest technical skills training regime, ample funding from the Union and corporate sponsors alike along with the campaign slogan of 'professionalising Kenyan 7s rugby'. At a micro-level, Mitch has been able to develop Strathmore rugby to a team worth challenging the big boys and this they should during the Kenya Cup and even went on to win this year's Impala Floodlights hosted by Impala RFC (which he knows all too well having played for the team too).
The resources accorded to him and the level of management might be different but at least he seems to understand the system well. Now the KRU has to give him a free hand in setting up shop with a new outfit and his first call will be to infuse some fresh blood and commit or discard the players who might have monopolised the national team much to the detriment of their performance.
August or thereabouts the national 7s circuit starts and the technical bench must sharpen their pencils and put down on paper what they believe will be a team worthy to take part and finish in a respectable position. The Safaricom 7s will also come up as a good test to give the team a run of challenging top sides in the IRB circuit, if Kenya manages to get some of them to attend.
There is also the issue such as securing proper grounds for the team(s) with Unga Grounds touted to be developed to a world-class facility but that is a longer term project for KRU. Player motivation and lifting their morale will be an urgent call.
Kenyan rugby fans must also tamper their expectations albeit in the short term but remember patience is never a virtue in most sporting disciplines.

Mr. Mitch Ocholla karibu sana and your work starts NOW!

For more on Ben Ayimba's departure read SportsNewsArena's interview with him here