She draws both admiration and hate in equal measure. Some would call her the Margaret Thatcher of Kenyan football – a fearless leader who takes on anything and anyone. From a stern critic of the previous administration, she now is at the helm of the club she holds dear to heart.
She draws both admiration and hate in equal measure. Some would call her the Margaret Thatcher of Kenyan football – a fearless leader who takes on anything and anyone. From a stern critic of the previous administration, she now is at the helm of the club she holds dear to heart.Interestingly she is being served by the same dose she served the previous administration. Probably twice.
100 days in office and she has rubbed many the wrong way. She has stalked controversy everywhere she goes, with critics putting to question her leadership capability, her character and education.
Kenyanstar sat down with Judith Anyango for a no-holds barred interview where she opens up on her career, family, Gor Mahia and why she won’t get tired fighting for what he says, ‘The right thing.’
Kenyanstar: Kindly introduce yourself. Who is Judith Anyango?
Judith Anyango: Judith Anyango Omondi is the current Organising secretary for Gor Mahia FC. I am a business lady and a mother with three sons.
KS: Tell us about your role at Gor Mahia
JA: As the organising secretary, my work is to make sure that the technical bench and players are fine. This is to mean they get the best that they need. Whenever they have an issues, I communicate that to the senior club management. I also am the link between the club and the fans. I meet the fans and branches, take their opinion and involve them in club matters.
KS: You were the Kenya national U-20 football kit manager. Tell us about your time there…
JA: I enjoyed my time at the national team, and it was a pleasure working with Nick Mwendwa’s team. I worked as a kit manager for the junior team because I love nurturing young talent.
KS: You seem to be an advocate for youth football development. We also have seen you take part actively in the Gor U-20 team…
JA: I was brought up in a low class area and I would see young boys die as a result of crime and drugs, all because they were idle. This pushed me to start nurturing young kids to take part in football, so they can stay away from drugs and crime.
KS: In many incidences, you have had issues with player agents. What has it been all about?
JA: Football agents in Kenya have one agenda – To enrich themselves. Not the players. My stand still remains that some of these young players should be left to develop locally first before they are hurriedly taken abroad, where they fail to prosper.
KS: On 3rd March 2016 you told Citizen Digital – In Gor, some people want to bring their cousins and players from their region so they can also get a cut- The last transfer window was marred by these claims on the TB and playing unit and yourself was also said to be part of these vice. How true is this?
JA: I have no relative in Gor Mahia myself. Sometimes ago when the head coach had issues with Matthew Ottomax, I defended him and also pushed for his reinstatement. That could not happen again when I came to office. We have given the coach a free hand to do his work, and work with whoever he wants. Ze Maria preferred to work with a trainer from Tusker or the national team. The coach did not know that Charles Omondi Korea was my relative. I was well aware that claims of nepotism would arise, and that is why we had Willis Ochieng’.
KS: In the same interview with Citizen Digital, you strongly criticised the Gor administration then together with Ambrose Rachier saying they were in there for personal gains. How true was this? Has anything changed now that you are in there?
JA:When you are outside as a fan, you have an opinion on the leaders. However, when you come into office, you realize how deep the problem is. Ambrose Rachier uses all his money and resources in helping the club. Without Rachier the club cannot be sustainable.
KS: You were part of a group called OGOI, whose agenda, it was claimed, was to destabilize the Gor management. How was this group formed and has your agenda been achieved?
JA: OGOI is a very strong movement. We would come to training in the afternoon, then we started being referred to as idlers. That is the genesis of that name OGOI. Our work was to keep the team on toes, and also check for players who were not fit, like the Brazilian. We did not like the idea of bringing in foreigners like him to play where we have better local players.
KS: On November 23 you were quoted by Goal.com saying that some of your key goals when elected as OS would be to foster peace for proper performance and also bring organization into the club. 110 days in, has this been achieved?
JA: My goals was to put the team together. There are however, cartels in the club who are fighting me. I came to the club to fight such vices as those being committed by stewards and also streamline our ticketing systems. Some officials are however, siding with these cartels. I get opposition from all corners. Change is certainly not easy. I was elected by fans, and when things run out of hand completely, I will report back to them.
KS: One of your key campaign areas was branches. How is this going about?
JA:I have met branches from Kisumu and Nairobi. They say that I am the first official to interact with them. Branches are happy and would like to be part of this change. I am currently lobbying to have them recognised by the club constitution.
KS: Another of your key campaign pillars was the promise to deliver a ‘seamless e-ticketing system to the club to ensure transparency.’ You, and other club officials, are currently under fire for allegedly plotting to steal ticket money in Kisumu. How true is this?
JA: I am not part of that cartel. I was not involved in the match logistics in Kisumu.I want to ask that they shouldn’t tie my hands. I should be left to handle match logistics, then we shall see the difference.
KS: Is there division in the office?
JA: Whatever has happened recently is a pointer. The chairman should certainly call for a meeting, where we shall iron out these things and have everyone assigned their roles.
KS: As you build branches, there is the issue of K’Ogalo Divas. We no longer see them…
JA: All K’Ogalo Divas got married. They only come to the stadium as veterans. That was a branch on its own, but it died due the aforementioned reasons.
KS: Your leadership has come under strong criticism: Some say you rule with an iron fist, others say you lack proper management skills. This is also the case for your education. What is your response to this?
JA: The problem I have had since coming in is I get fought for trying to do things the right way. I have been fighting the website guys for instance together with the stewards. These are people who don not want things to be done in the right way. The website is owned by five guys who use the Gor Mahia brand. They run adverts on the site. The club does not earn a dime from the same. How then do they refuse to be answerable to the club? Encouraging such things as the website is similar to encouraging a trader in Eastleigh to sale fake jerseys. We have to change how things are done.
On the issue of leadership and skills, there is nothing like skills at Gor Mahia. I have been a leader myself in many areas, and I currently am the chair of the large Gikomba market, working for hundreds of traders and I have a huge support staff. I went to school up to university level and I do not understand what skills some people want from me. Critics should learn to differentiate the person that I am as a fan and a leader.
KS: You have been accused of being intoxicated and drinking alcohol in the training camp. How true is this? Do you feel it is a concern to the team?
JA: Those are rumours being peddled by some bitter people who want to set me up against the fans. I do drink, but that happens at my leisure time away from the camp. When around the team and on duty, I know my work. There is time for everything.
KS: We have previously talked to Collins Okoth and Matthew Ottomax who accuse you of a couple of things. Is there any issue between yourself and them?
JA: Ottomax is a good friend, and we exchange banter quite a lot. We have no differences.
For Collins; I was a die hard fan of Collins Okoth while I was just a fan. Then, he used to do awkward things. Last year, the team needed him badly and as the patron of OGOI I fought to have him reinstated to the team. I also would sit with him and advise him to change.
When I was elected, he thought that I would favour him. I cannot entertain him and that is why we have had lots of differences. A day to a match, he fails to come to training. I can’t protect him. Last year, we lost when he failed to turn up for some matches.
This year, however, we have lots of options in the midfield. We have been winning without him so far. In camp, he harasses and sends threatening messages to the new players. I am aware of these things. In Gor Mahia, no one can confront Collins except myself and he knows that I cannot entertain his nonsense. When Collins realized that I wasn’t ready to stand his behaviour, he began saying negative things about me. I am an official and he is a player, he needs to focus.
In Kisumu against Zoo, the coach named him in the team, and luckily he showed up. Then, the coach opted not to field him in the first eleven. While on the bench, it was then reported to me that he removed his shoes and socks and threw them. During the match after Wellington was yellow carded, the coach sought to make a substitution. To his surprise, Collins did not have his shoes on. The coach opted for another player. Such behaviour cannot be condoned. The boy has to change.
KS: Is Collins bigger than the club?
JA: No. It is just that last year we had no options. This year, things are different and I don’t think he will give us any trouble.
KS: You are said to be Ambrose Rachier puppet, and that you are driving someone’s agenda…
JA: I am not Rachier’s puppet. Yes, I criticised him while I was a fan. Many expected that to be the case when I get elected. However, when elected, you have to create friendship and work with all other officials. Not fight. I will only differ with Rachier when he fails to do his job.
KS: In many instances, you have had nasty and messy outbursts on social media. Why is it so? Don’t you feel that is a little unprofessional?
JA: I am not ashamed of the social media outbursts. There are people out here who feel that when you are elected as an official, they can insult you and say negative things about you while you watch. I cannot entertain that and I serve everyone the same dose they serve me.
KS:110 days in office? How is it going about?
JA: I have been elected for four years. When you are new somewhere, you are bound to meet challenges. However, with time, things will be streamlined and we shall move forward.
KS: Thanks Judith!