Like most of the previous Kenyan Stars interviewed on this column have correctly noted, poor infrastructure and insufficient youth programs stand in the way of sports excellence in Kenya. In all if not most sports, we compete against countries who introduce their sports people to the game at a very early stage. That is why this week, Our Kenyan Star of the week, Nicholas Macharia, who runs a football academy under the banner of Ambassadors Football Club and supported by the International Christian Church at Nairobi's Imara Daima estate.
As Ken Odero asks on his blog, Was Mathew Ottamax’s career a case of bloated ego, unfulfilled potential or was he just misunderstood? The story of Mathew Ottomax is about a man who played for the 2 biggest clubs in Kenya, won a league title with each of them, played for the national team and left at his peak.' Mathews Owino ‘Ottamax’, who is currently a goalkeeper trainer, is our Kenyanstar of the week.
KS: Mathews to start us off, to which club do you swear your allegiance between the two Kenyan giants Gor-Mahia and AFC leopards?
Well first of all it is important to state that I'm currently a goalkeeper trainer at Nakumatt FC even though we are yet to formalize this engagement. That having been said, Nakumatt played Leopards in a friendly match the other day and it was evident from the reception i got that the leopards still have a lot of love for me. This feeling is mutual because tribal factors aside, even my friends at Gor-Mahia know i have always had AFC at heart so yes, AFC Leopards it is.
KS: How easy or difficult was it to make the switch from Gor-Mahia to AFC leopards?
I wouldn't say it was a difficult decision because at the time there were wrangles at Gor-Mahia and when Leopards came knocking even my core support agreed that for the sake of my career I'd be much better off at The Den.
KS: Tell us how your story began, and how you rose to these heights?
How i started was more accidental. I had been sent to the shops by my mum so on my way back i found two teams just about to start playing football. One of the teams didn't have a goalkeeper so they asked me to hold brief for them in goal. I was going to decline but they went ahead to take my 'slippers' and use them as makeshift goal posts. So then it seemed reasonable to me that being the temporary goalkeeper would also be an opportunity for me to guard my slippers so no one would steal them. That was the beginning.
KS: So you became a goalkeeper for this team...
I enjoyed the match that day and hence forth I would make a point to go play in the goal whenever there was one of those matches in the neighborhood. I thought it was a good break from spending most of my time in the house. I joined MYSA in its early years of foundation and I developed well through the ranks. I even had a chance to represent Kenya at the Under 14 level but missed as the match would be played when we were travelling with MYSA to our first Norway Cup.
KS: When was your big break?
KS: How did it happen?
I was in high school, in form one and i had trouble paying my school fees so i was sent home. I opted to pass time by joining the Re-Union training Camp. At that time Peter Kenneth was the Chairman. He came to me and asked why i wasn't in school and i explained. He asked me who pays my school fees and i told him it was my mum. He then took up my school fees from then till when i finished schooling. In return i would play for Re-Union.
KS: Did playing opportunities come at Re-Union?
It looked like i would have to wait for a long time. The first choice goalkeeper for Re-Union then was the legendary Mohamud Abbas who also doubled as the team manager. His number two in goal was one Charles Bushira. But there was this one time senior players went on strike due to unpaid allowances so the team officials had to quickly assemble a team that would honor the weekend matches. Like many of the players for that weekend, i was picked up in school on Thursday and told i would be playing over the weekend. Those days we played two matches every weekend. I soaked in six goals in my first two matches for Re-Union that weekend. We played Bata Bullets on Saturday and lost 3-2, on Sunday we played AFC Leopards and lost 3-0. But from then on we stabilized and that is how i started playing regular football.
KS: Mathews, you were in the AFC Leopards team that last won the league in 1998. What do you think Leopards need to do to bring back their glory days?
I think they need to cut down on politics or probably get one strong leader. Our days we had one Peter Onalo who ran the club with an iron fist. Over the past few seasons including 2016, AFC leopards have been assembling some of the best squads in the league but the politics at the club does not give them a chance to compete on the pitch.
KS: What is the difference between your days and now?
Of course there was a bit of stability, but the biggest difference is the money factor. During our days there wasn't a lot of money.
KS: Let us talk about Kenya vs Djibouti...
I saw this coming...
KS: Kenya won the tie 9-1 on aggregate. But that one goal, did you intentionally allow it to go in?
No, it was just a combination of genuine mistake and bad luck. We dominated Djibouti and as a way of keeping me in the game the defenders kept playing back passes to me. The goal moment was bad luck and a miss kick because my shoe got a bit held by the tall grass at the stadium.
KS: Who is that one striker that always gave you sleepless nights during your playing days?
Allow me to name several please. There is Nick Yakhama, The late Steve Okumu and Elkana Swaka
KS: Which do you consider your most memorable match?
When we played Nigeria Under-23. Most Kenyans didn't watch that match. It ended in a goalless draw and i was named man of the match. I think I was the first and among very few Kenyan goalkeepers who have gone to Nigeria and Kept a clean sheet.
KS: What do you make of the current status of football in Kenya?
It is in shambles. * See we don't even know when the league will kick off. I think football administrators have no consideration of players who are a key component of the game.
KS: Compared to your playing days do you think we are making progress?
Yes! There is progress. We have seen some of our top players play for top European clubs and this is something that will open doors for other Kenyans. We also saw the other day KPL players get some exposure in a match against Hull City FC courtesy of Sportpesa and yes there is increasing inflow of corporates sponsoring football in various categories. All this i think is progress.
KS: Tell us about your time at Gor-Mahia as Goalkeeper trainer.
Basically i joined Gor-Mahia technical bench at around the same time Frank Nuttal was hired. I understand, or was made to believe that the club was going through some financial difficulties at this time and there was a lot of pressure on us to deliver, and we did deliver including winning the league in 2015 unbeaten. Coincidentally, that same year I went the entire season with no pay. Once in a while i would be given small amounts of money and requested to be understanding since the club had no money. Lastly it is important to say that i didn't leave Gor-Mahia, I was forced out. I was told the coach had said he didn't want to work with me.
KS: How could you work with no pay? Was it just you or all other members of the technical bench?
Mostly me and the assistant coach. I think our services were abused and not appreciated but personally for me i do this for the love of the game and for the players I train.
KS: Because of careful management of their image rights sports people earn from product endorsements during and long after their playing time. How have you faired in this regard?
I got endorsements with Guinness beer in my playing days and I’m glad to say this has been picking up in the industry for instance we have the case of Oliech and Betways.
KS: Who do you think are the top three Kenyan goalkeepers currently?
Arnold Origi, Boniface Oluoch and Patrick Matasi in that order. I particularly think Origi has been very disciplined and hard working.
KS: Some people say you are arrogant with a bloated ego. Do you feel the same way about yourself?
My character is that I'm always myself and I'm not a Yes man. It lands me in trouble a lot of times but i don't shy away from airing my views.
KS: Your social media outbursts, aren't they doing some harm to your image?
Probably yes but i do not intend to stop. It is who I am. If i feel pinched i need to find a way to say I have been pinched and with technology, social media is one of those avenues.
KS: There have been accusations that you have a drinking problem...
The accusations have been that i go to training drunk which i can tell you today it's not possible. I respect my job and sometimes i leave the house at 5am to arrive at the training ground on time especially the days we start off at 8. Those are rumors maliciously spread by my detractors. I'm an adult and yes i indulge but responsibly, mostly after the training sessions.
KS: What was your Relationship with coach Ze Maria?
Largely we had a good relationship save for a few instances which is normal. Ze-maria is a very good coach and i respect him but he is the one with a bad ego compared to what they say i have. In my opinion he does not respect Kenyans football wise.
KS: Tell us about the 2010 derby match that you tried to stop...
What happened at that match was very unfortunate. I wasn't trying to stop it in bad faith, I was just trying to get some attention from everyone to what really mattered; people's lives. That was the first floodlight derby match if I'm not wrong and it had rained the entire afternoon. People had over indulged. I had come with my family and i pre-warned them the scenes weren't so good. The match had just started when i gained entry into the stadium via the VIP area but i could see fans struggling at the first terrace gate, others being stumbled on. It looked really bad. I tried to bring it to the attention of the police officers but they didn't seem bothered. I requested the Gor-Mahia bus driver to ferry some of those fans to hospital but he said he would need permission from his employers. I approached Carol Radul but i saw she was on set so there was little i could do. In that moment Gor-Mahia had been awarded a free kick so i decided i would go have the referee stop the match until the victims of the stampede had been taken care of. I was already on the pitch but before the referee could spot me the stewards were all over me with blows. It was a sad day.
KS: Why don't we have more Kenyan goalkeepers going to play professional say in Europe?
I think we do not believe in ourselves then we find an excuse in form of the perception that European clubs do not sign African goalkeepers but look at Idrissa Kameni (from Cameroon) and tell me if that is true.
KS: Did you ever get a chance to play in Europe yourself?
Yes i had an invitation to play in Sweden but had a hitch in my Visa application process so it did not materialize.
KS: Why did you leave the Harambee Stars technical bench?
What i saw at Harambee Stars was very disheartening. It wasn't good for football. Football is much more than what I saw in the national team. Mental preparedness and facilities are very key if we are to be competitive in our football.
KS: What is your parting shot to your fans and readers of Kenyanstar?
I just want to thank them for staying true to the game and always supporting the players and teams in general.
* - The Interview was conducted a few days before the release of KPL 2017 season fixtures. The fixtures are now out and we know the first matches will be played on the 11th of March.
Born in Western Kenya, 60 year old Richard Omwela studied at Kakamega High School before pursuing a law degree at the University of Nairobi. While at the University he did not make the grade to play Rugby due to the School back ground. Omwela headed the Kenya Rugby Union for close to 8 years between 2003 and 2011, a period within which Kenyan Rugby grew to unprecedented heights. For his contribution to the game, Richard Omwela is our Kenyanstar of the week ...
KS: Who is Richard Omwela?
I'm a 60 years old Kenyan, born in Western Kenya. I schooled at Kakamega High School and proceeded to study law at the University of Nairobi. I'm a lawyer by profession and for the last 37 years i have been practicing corporate law. I'm a partner at Hamilton Harrison and Mathews previously the Managing partner. I'm also the current Chairman of the Kenya Rugby Union.
KS: What is your story with Rugby?
I followed Rugby from my University days and was at the University of Nairobi when the University team Mean machine was formed. I came from a football background in High school, back in those days Kakamega High School was primarily a football giant and not so much ruby. When i got to the University of Nairobi I had to be content with watching from the side lines as there were better, more established players from Rugby playing schools such as Nairobi and Lenana so i did not make the grade. In terms of managing the sport, i joined Impala club as a member of the club when i finished my university studies but between 1991 and 1995 I served as the chairman of the club. That is how i joined Rugby administration because Impala was then as it still is a Rugby playing club among other sports. It is from this that i got into Rugby initially as a director in charge of Fund raising because of my corporate background. I moved on to become secretary of the union them moved on to become chairman of the Union. It was always felt that because of my corporate background i would help fund raise for the union.
KS: And how did the fund raising go? Did your leadership help?
Pretty well i would say, initially our targets were very low, just about Ksh 10 million to run the sport every year as compared to now where we are looking at annual budgets of close to Ksh 500 Million. And yes i believe my leadership helped especially in corporate governance, introducing structures and generating an interest in the game. Back in the day we would call for an AGM and only a handful of people would show up and we would divide the available roles but now we have actual competitive elections. I have always looked at how much i can give to the game in terms of my expertise and time resources as opposed to how much i can get from it and I believe my contribution to the sport has been immense especially by putting in place structures that would outlive us when we leave management of the sport to others.
KS: That is interesting Mr. Omwela considering in the last election you campaigned on the platform of 'Coming back to clean the mess that had been created'. Are the structures not strong enough?
The structures we have been continually putting in place are the reason our Rugby got a chance for another two years of good leadership and are the reason why there will always be a chance to make amends when things go wrong. The unfortunate thing, and it applies to the country at large, is that while we have very many able Kenyans, most of them shy away from positions of leadership. Some of those who offer themselves for leadership could be coming in for other reasons other than leadership Good leaders also need to take the initiative and step other than live in their glorious days. I believe we have a lot of credible people able to offer leadership post Omwela or post anyone else.
KS: What would you say is the current state of Rugby in Kenya?
Rugby has grown in leaps and bounds. You will find that in all counties in Kenya, Rugby is being played not just at club level but all the way from school level to Universities and colleges. So, the game has grown rapidly. The issue we have now is how to manage it because as the game expands we need competent officials, referees, coaches and even equipment and medical support. In those aspects we are lacking. Rugby is also playing a part in improving the Kenyan society values because of the discipline of the game. For instance we have an Under 10 program we run at the union in partnership with Shamas foundation. This program collects youth from Kibera and Kawangware and parents have observed that the youth who join this program have shown improved grades and personalities. This is mainly because of the discipline demanded of a rugby player and in the case of the youngsters also just being around successful individuals who play or manage rugby inspires them to do better in other spheres beyond the game.
KS: How would you say we rate against elite Rugby playing Nations like South Africa, England, Fiji and the likes?
We are far much behind the elite Rugby playing nations and we need to do much more to come close to them. These are countries playing fully professional rugby back in their local leagues while we depend on players who have different day jobs are in Colleges or have just left College.
KS: How long Mr. Omwela before we go fully professional?
There are deliberate efforts to fully professionalize our league. Clubs like Kabras, Impala, and Homeboyz are already moving towards that direction but a key set-back which the industry has been grappling with is the lack or insufficient corporate participation because a professional league is very expensive.
KS: One would imagine that with rapid growth of the game corporate organizations will be literary struggling to be associated with it. What seems to be holding them back?
There are two important factors we as administrators need to work on before we get full commitment from sponsors;
The first one is accountability and issues to do with corporate governance. Sponsors not only want to know how every single shilling they gave you was used, they also want to ascertain the monies they give are directed for the correct purpose and for the growth of the game. So the way you run the game has a bearing on if sponsors will come on board and our efforts over the years has won the confidence of people like KQ, Safaricom, EABL, Bamburi and most recently Sports Pesa.
The second is each sponsor wants a return on Investment so if they are putting money into the game what value worth of their money will they get back in terms of visibility and or publicity. Our league for instance is played over just seven months every year. This could have a bearing on when or if sponsors come on board because it is probably a short time for them to get value out the sponsorship But going forward we want to have a structured league where the main league can be supplemented by two other competitions so that whichever sponsor comes on board gets value across the year. So as we continue to professionalize our game these are some of the issues we have to look at.
KS: Has KRU and the various clubs under it complied with the Sports Act?
Not 100%, it is still work in progress but the intention is that by 2018 all the clubs plus the union will have complied fully. The union will be having an AGM in the coming month [March] and one of the agenda items will be to review our progress so far in complying with the Act. Some clubs have complied in some of the aspects like changing their constitution to have a 4 year circle for leadership instead of a one year circle...
KS: Why is that particular one Important? Having a four year term instead of a one year term?
It is important because it allows the organization in question more time to concentrate on the sport which is the most important thing. If you keep it at one year then for a half of the year the people in office are thinking about re-election and the sport suffers....
KS: Does the four year term then completely fixes this?
Not entirely because you still lose considerable amount of time with people politicking. At rugby we are looking at a possibility of a succession plan where you have the Chairman and probably 1st and 2nd Vice Chairmen with a clear structure of who will be chairman after the incumbent and so the union leadership definite and known even for the next several years. This will allow more time to be invested into the sport itself.
KS: Will you be defending your position in the upcoming elections?
Yes! I will vie again to serve one last term as the chairman. But I'm not campaigning. I want clubs to look at the work we have done vote us in or out based on that. I think as a sport we are in a position where we can make decisions based on tangible evidence and not mere rhetoric.
KS: What is the union’s plan for Infrastructure?
Currently our best bet is having the government come good on its promise because the President of the Republic of Kenya HE Uhuru Kenyatta promised us a rugby stadium on our return from Singapore but if they don't then we will have to explore other options.
KS: Is it the government's responsibility to put up this infrastructure? What role does the union play in ensuring it happens?
Look, the government did build Kasarani and Nyayo stadium for football, the county government further built City stadium but for football yet again so it is not so much to ask that they do one for Rugby and Cricket for that matter we also pay taxes as a sport so why should all the resources be channeled to one sport that has produced no known result over the years?
KS: So if the government doesn't come good on this promise?
Of course it has always been on the table for us. We had plans in 2011 to acquire the Ligi Ndogo grounds and combined with the KRFU, our main grounds then we would put up a standard facility including some bed and parking capacity, we had even already set aside some Ksh. 45 Million for this project. We had entered into an Agreement for buying Ligi Ndogo grounds and paid a deposit. Unfortunately there was a change of leadership and consequently a change of thinking around this project so we lost the opportunity. If it is to come up again then we will probably look at a partnership with the County Government of Mombasa to put up a Rugby stadium.
KS: Why Mombasa? Have you already engaged them?
No, Not yet! But it would be our best shot if we ever want to get on the World Rugby 7s circuit.
KS: Wasn't Safari Sevens meant for inclusion on the World Rugby 7s circuit?
Safari Sevens is a great competition by the idea to submit a bid for its inclusion on the World Rugby 7s circuit was not well thought out. It was never going to make it for various reasons; For starters the hosting city needs to have a five star bed capacity of at least 20,000. Nairobi doesn't have that so our best bet is probably Mombasa combined with Diani and Malindi and they will still be strained. Secondly, you need not only have a standard rugby pitch for the main competition but also a second one for the women and several others for training. We are not anywhere close to these requirements. Lastly, the current thinking around World Rugby is to host all the legs of the circuit in low altitude cities so there is no possible way our high altitude Nairobi will have a chance unless this thinking changes. So if it were me i would not even submit that bid.
KS: Why do you think the number of fans attending the Safaricom Sevens has dwindled over the years?
It is a combination of factors and especially for last year's event. First is competition with other sports specifically motor sport which was on the same weekend. Second is the location, Kasarani you would admit is on 'the other side of town' with respect to majority of Rugby fans in the city and creates some sort of an inconvenience and lastly is the reduced level of Safaricom sponsorship. Previously the sponsorship included marketing the event through their various platforms but that was not the case last year so the event publicity suffered. Obviously we should have done a lot more for publicity but it's a lesson we learnt and have already put in place a committee for this year's event.
KS: Is this a pointer we will not be going back to Kasarani for Safari Sevens this year?
We cannot rule out Kasarani but we need to look at other ooptions. Nyayo Stadium is one of them. Part of the reason why we have been having it at Kasarani is the Safaricom was the main Sponsor of the Stadium and it made no sense to take it elsewhere. We understand that has now changed.
KS: Shall we see the return of the Bamburi Rugby Super Series?
The super series was a competition for regional Franchise teams in Kenya and Uganda sponsored by Bamburi mainly because their business covered these countries. The super series can of course make a comeback albeit with a bit of modifications but first we are sourcing for a sponsor because it is expensive to manage these franchises. The potential sponsor candidates are corporate organization with countrywide product reach and with that respect we have considered and engaging people like Bidco and others. It was a very good competition because from it we got teams like Western Bulls which has come up very strongly.
KS: What are the union's top three priorities over the next five years?
The first is to put up a high performance center. A piece of infrastructure that can comfortably host an international tournament without the limitations i mentioned earlier like Bed Capacity, Training facilities and even parking space.
The Second is to have a fully functional secretariat with regional branches all over the country and effectively institute some supporting structures to manage the game throughout the country so we won't have to always dispatch resources human and material to various parts of the country when needed.
The third is to develop further our national squads, both the Sevens and the Fifteens. We missed out narrowly in the last world cup but we are hoping to qualify for 2019 one. So you will notice we are putting a lot of emphasis on the junior teams and giving them more game time because in the near future we shall require them to step up.
KS: Tell us about the Kenya Rugby Limited.
The idea behind Kenya Rugby Limited was to have a company that is fully owned by the union to run the business aspect of the game, while allowing the union to deal with the game itself. It did not and still does not feel prudent to have the union involve itself in the business matters of the sport. The union's core function is to run the sport, not the business associated with the sport. Things like jerseys would be sold by the company not the union. Back then I had Kenya Rugby Limited running the Safari Sevens as an independent entity.
KS: What steps has the union taken to make the game safer especially following the recent deaths of several Rugby players?
That is a very unfortunate thing that has been happening. We have sent our condolences to the affected families and I did convene and chair a meeting with all club representatives to discuss the matter. We made some resolutions that every club must take the responsibility to know the health status of their players and recheck the same on a quarterly basis just to ensure we are not risking anyone's life. We have also instructed the match officials to be keen and ensure that for the case of injuries the match must be stopped for the affected players to get medical attention. If the player is concussed then he must not come go back to the field of play. Such a player must undergo treatment and take leave from the game for at least two weeks. And finally we are also calling out to all players to be conscious of their personal health status and not risk their life.
KS: Has the union outlined any sanctions or penalties for any parties that do not adhere to these recommendations.
We have a team working on that but need a buy in from Clubs and players.
KS: What challenges do you think Kenyan Rugby is facing?
The three main challenges are poor infrastructure, insufficient resources to effectively manage the growth of the game and relatively low uptake by sponsors. We don't have enough match officials, coaches and even qualified medical personnel and I encourage more Kenyans not only to train for these functions but also to come forward when these positions are advertised.
KS: What do you make of the teams participation at the Rio Olympics?
There were some failures on our part but this was also an epic failure on the part of NOCK. On our part I think we had a poor team selection. On NOCK's part they did not consult and were failing even on the very basics. For instance if they would have consulted us then the rugby teams would not have camped in Nandi which is a high altitude area while we were going to play in a low altitude Rio. So while Nandi is a good training ground with good facilities especially for athletes, it was not the best preparation for our Rugby team. I also think our friends at NOCK are not giving attention to team sports especially when they look at the prospects of one man bringing back a medal vis-a-vis seven men bringing back the same medal. So i think we went to participate not to compete.
KS: What lessons do you think other sports federations in Kenya can learn from KRU?
Mainly it's improvement of their corporate governance. Some things that happen are very disheartening. The hitches with player visas and travel arrangement to a point where government has to fork out Ksh. 40 million to charter a plane like it happened in football the other day are all a reflection of poor corporate governance.
KS: What role do you think sports play in national cohesion?
Sports play a big part in National cohesion because when we go out there to play we win or lose as Kenya, not as a Mluhya or Luo or Kikuyu or any other tribe. It is always about Team Kenya. A good example to look at is South Africa and the 1995 Springboks winning team. Had that team not won then it would have been more difficult to hold that country together.
KS: Finally what would you like to tell Rugby fans in particular and Kenyans in general as your parting shot?
I want to assure all rugby fans and Kenyans in general that we will continue to do whatever we can to grow the game despite all the challenges. We have received enormous support from the country and we thank every single Kenyan for that. My phone never stops ringing every time we lose a match, with Kenyans asking what went wrong and commenting on the team selection. This is an indication that they follow our progress and we do not take it for granted.
We are still young and short in capacity but we have enormous talent. We are the only small country playing with the big boys but we hope and believe that Singapore wasn't an accident. We will win more.
Finally i want to call upon the Government of Kenya to support our efforts more because their support will go a long way in taking us several steps forward.
The news came to her at the start of February that she was to deliver a motivational talk to the young students of Nyakach High School deep in Nyanza's Nyabondo plateau. It was something the Kenya Pipeline Volleyball Team captain only dreamt of as a child.
Pauline Naise belongs to a different class, a rare one, with a few names ahead of her. A class of Kenyan stars who have represented the country at International level in two(or more) different sports, and have excelled at it. The likes J.J Masiga for Rugby and Football, Aasif Karim for Tennis and Cricket, Carl Tundo for Motorsport and Golf and Collins Omae for Rugby and Athletics.
Lawyer Ambrose Rachier has been Gor-Mahia football Club's chairman for close to 10 years, since 2008 and was given fresh mandate by the 'Green Army' in December 2016 to steer Kenya's most successful football club for another four years a period he believes will be his last term at the helm of the club. During his 10 years at Gor-mahia, and in particularly the last six seasons, Rachier has won the League three times and finished second in the other three making him the Kenya Premier League Limited Chairman for three straight years and Vice Chairman for the other three. Rachier has also tried on two occasions to ascend to football's top most office in the country but both attempts were unsuccessful. Ambrose Rachier gave an Interview for the Kenyanstar of the week column incidentally on the morning he was slapped with a ban by FKF for 'bringing the game to disrepute' ...
KS: In Brief for those who do not know you, who is Ambrose Rachier?
I'm a loyal Kenyan Citizen, 68 years old, a family man, a lawyer, Scholar, Teacher, Sports enthusiast, A fan of Gor-Mahia but most above all a leader... Of-course i tried my hand in politics but swore never to go back there after the lessons i learnt.
KS: How long have you been in football administration?
Since i took over Gor-Mahia leadership in 2008
KS: Let's talk about Gor-Mahia, You've been at the helm for a long time now, This is the 10th year i believe... Has it been a success story for you.
Gor-Mahia has had tremendous improvement! I Insist Tremendous improvement under my chairmanship and i can outline various areas where these improvements are there for all to see.
When i took over the club had just a handful of active fans and no funds at all. We now have a phenomenal return of the fans or what we like to call the green army and you can see, this in itself is a source of income for the club. We've also had a number of sponsors come on board since then, We've had Tuzo, Sportpesa and Crown Larger.
I took over when the club was narrowly escaping relegation, Our performance on the field of play has since improved and in the last six years we have either won the league or unluckily finished second. One of these league wins has been unbeaten the entire season.
We have improved corporate governance and introduced structures, we now have a fully fledged secretariat with a CEO running the club and we now hold well organized elections.
We have been steadily improving player welfare through better pay and simple things like a club bus to ease movement. We are also acting like a spring board, providing young players with opportunities to play in better leagues out of the country. You will remember George Odhiambo, Aucho, Olunga and most recently Erick Ouma.
Last but probably very key is that i helped in founding and setting up of the Gor-Mahia Sacco which is very key to the Gor-Mahia Family. The Fans, players and even officials can save funds and access credit facilities via the Sacco.
KS: Some people... most people agree and are happy with your record but they think you have steadied the ship and should allow someone else to sail it to harbor.
Of-course Samuel I'll not be Gor-Mahia Chairman forever, this is probably my last term and i still have a lot to offer a lot to offer especially if i get the tranquility in the last four years...
KS: What do you have up your sleeve? Say a five year plan...?
Three main things that need to be done...
For starters we plan to develop an academy and run a very solid youth team. Our football will go nowhere without investment in academies. There is no country in the world that has done well in football without investment in academies, even the much talked about Ghana National team they have been playing together from a very young age. The big players you hear about, the likes of Mesut Ozil and his Germany Teammates have been in academies from the age of five years.
Secondly i plan to launch a Gor-Mahia stadium project... And this is not just a stadium but a soccer village that will also include a residential area for our players and staff. So a player signing for Gor-Mahia would mean that among other things they get a house for the entire duration of their contract. Infrastructure is another very important necessity in football and unless we invest in Infrastructure we are headed nowhere.
Lastly i intended to put a lot of effort into player welfare at Gor-Mahia. Things like insurance cover should be include on the sign-up package for Gor-Mahia. Football is largely about the players so if we don't invest in them then we will have no football to enjoy.
All these are achievable and i intend to go forth with them, they are not just pipe dreams.
KS: When you say solid youth team, what does it mean with regard to what you currently have? The one that takes part in the KPL youth Tournament.
That is an Ad-hoc youth team that we recruit mainly from the schools and largely on a need basis. Most of the other times they are on their own. I talk of a youth team that will be part of the club with a substantial budget to run it. This will also lower our cost of recruitment because it is expensive to recruit players.
KS: Gor has done well locally over the past six years, twice near champions, then champions three times in a row, unlucky not to make it four but then, What is the secret? What ensures you stay at the top level?
I think it's good leadership, and not just from me but most of the people elected into office with me over the last years have shown great leadership so credit to all of us and also to those who have been electing.
KS: Having said that, Why isn't this performance not replicated in continental competitions? Fair to say not just by Gor-Mahia but by most Kenyan teams with few exemptions?
Thank you, that is a very important question and there are two reasons for it ...
First is our calendar. We need to align our calendar with all other major leagues. The thing is when continental competitions begin, most other leagues have been ongoing and are probably halfway while for us we haven't even started, we are just getting off pre-season. our teams are therefore playing teams that have already jelled and worked out functional formations. While not impossible, it is very difficult to win against a team that is already in rhythm while you are only starting.
Second, is lack of support from the federation. It is very expensive to compete in the continental competitions and support from the federation would go a long way. Federations in other countries support their clubs.
KS: You have been KPL Chair for three years, Vice Chair for another two and this year is your third as Vice Chair. The other chairmen on the council must also appreciate the challenge our calendar poses with regards to continental competitions, why hasn't this been fixed once and for all?
Because this is the responsibility of the federation.
KS: Mr. Rachier, What challenges do you face as the Chairman of Gor-mahia? What challenges does Gor-Mahia as a club face
There are three main challenges;
For starters finances are still a major challenge as we try to implement our programs and still compete effectively.
Secondly hooliganism is a big challenge for us in two ways. One because it endangers the lives players and peace loving fans and two because it hinders the growth of our fan base in terms of the actual fans who would like to come and support the team at the stadia.
The third challenge is the tendency by our fans to try and micromanage people they have elected into office. This is a big drawback to our corporate governance practices. Our fans need to be educated and to understand that when you give someone a job you have to allow them to do the judge them on the Results, Do not give someone a job and show them how to do it at every stage.... Why then did you give him or her the job in the first place?
KS: You mention Hooliganism, who does the back stop with?
The law enforcers. The police need to provide security, arrest the few hooligans masquerading as fans and have them pay with their time. Unfortunately even when these people are arrested they are allowed to walk the next day. The clubs don't own the stadium so it is difficult to task them with security.
KS: Most clubs only fire a non performing coach. A coach who can't win trophies for them. Gor-Mahia has parted ways with a few title winning coaches, One who won it unbeaten .....
Samuel, the circumstances are different for all of them for those we have fired over the last few years. I can mention a few cases without names. One, sometimes back we fired simply because he wasn't performing, Another one we lost to the National team so there was very little we could do and another one we fired on grounds of indiscipline mainly because in Cohort with a few fans he held the club at ransom with outrageous demands contrary to our agreement and contract. These kind of acts undermine our corporate governance efforts and we had to act promptly.
KS: In addition to not winning the league, does losing all three pre-season friendly matches so far pass as underperformance for Ze Maria? Should we expect to see him fired soon?
No you can't fire a coach because he's lost in pre-season friendly matches. Nonetheless I have had an elaborate meeting with the coach and he explained all these losses. He is still getting to understand our new players. In the first match he had just jetted in and very little training had taken place, In the second match it wasn't about winning, he actually played all the 26 players in that single match and in the third match, the one against the Ugandan side like i said this is a team playing in an ongoing league while we are still in preseason. We have however set target for the coach and we can only judge him or take action based on these targets.
KS: Is it a good or bad thing when Erick Ouma leaves Gor-Mahia for Georgia?
While i wish Erick all the best at his new club i still believe that this move is ill advised. In my opinion the best for him would have been to stick around, even if not at Gor-Mahia then locally for another one or two seasons to assert his game and probably attract better opportunities. One problem with our football is that we have people calling themselves agents who are not even registered and they are miss-advising these young boys. Sometimes you engage a player and the moment you invite him to take his sign-on fee he arrives with a bunch of people claiming to be his agents.
KS: Gor-Mahia has won the league three times in a row... We still see your matches with a stadium only quarter full, what will it take to have more people attending Gor Matches?
The main issues here are our calendar again and the hooliganism. We cannot ignore the fact that we are competing against elite leagues like the EPL, Bundesliga, Laliga and others. By the time our league starts all these league have gained momentum and it becomes very difficult to convince someone to forget about chelsea and come watch Gor-Mahia even if you get everything else right. It would be much fairer competition if our league started at the same time with all the others. And like i said with hooliganism still an issue then most would be fans would rather stay away from the stadium.
KS: AFC Leopards Vs Gor Mahia, is this rivalry just a fans conception? As the chairman of Gor-Mahia does it give you more pleasure when you win against Leopards than when you win against any other team?
Football cannot be sweet without a derby so yes there is a lot of Joy in winning against Leopards and a lot of sadness when they win against us.
KS: Talking of AFC Leopards, they are one of the biggest clubs in the country, why do you think they have been struggling in the past few years?
I think it goes back to lack of tranquility and not allowing elected officials to do their job. Every fan cannot be the club chairman so we have to allow elected officials do their job and replace them when the right time comes.
KS: Talk to us about you FKF Presidency bid. What did you want to achieve as FKF president that you couldn't achieve as KPL Chairman.
To answer this you have to understand the different roles of the two organizations. KPL is only the league manager...
KS: So what did you have in store as FKF President?
A lot of things and i hope they can still be done. Unfortunately i'm past my sell-by date because i don't think i'll run again but my agenda revolved around four issues; Development of youth football, Development of Infrastructure, development of women football and Transparency in management.
KS: Has you being past your sell-by date has anything to do with the ban you've been slapped with?
No it's a personal decision i made after my second unsuccessful bid. The ban does not benefit our football in anyway. It is not about individuals, If you ban me today and someone else takes my position tomorrow he will find the same same issues on the table. So the correct thing to do as a leader is to have a discussion with all involved parties and solve outstanding issues.
KS: So would these same issues be on the table today had you been elected president?
Not necessarily because what we are seeing today is lack of leadership. It is important that we emulate best practice as it is done elsewhere globally. We need to be very clear in interpreting roles of KPL and the federation and we need to respect existing agreements because we have been discussing these issues with the federation for some time now. So if i were the president i would offer leadership and will not engage in this discussions with a fixed mind.
KS: Why is CAF licensing an issue for some KPL clubs?
It is not an issue. The issue is it's execution. The rules are very clear on what should happen to clubs that fail to obtain this license. There are sanctions, penalties but relegation is not one of them! Relegation and promotion should be purely on sporting merit so we have to question the integrity of some of these decisions. Why for instance should a club that hasn't played in the league for all these years suddenly being fronted for promotion at all costs immediately someone becomes president?
KS: What are the arguments against an 18 team league?
The federation is in no position to set the number of teams to play in the league, it needs to take advise from the league manager and when deciding who gets promoted and relegated it has to be on sporting merit and not political expediency. We are not opposed to an 18 team league but we have shared with the federation the impact of the expansion starting with the additional 66 matches.
KS: So what would be your message to the FKF President when he reads this?
I plead with the all powerful leader of football in this country to rethink his decision. We are powerless and do not want to defy him. We also do not wish to engage in a fight with him. We are getting late for the commencement of the league and any further delays will make it difficult for us to have a successful season. The constant wrangles are not good for football. We need leadership from the top. As a leader, you cannot be crying foul always. What is the problem? Good leaders bring harmony and find solution to problems
KS: These issues around sports administration across all sports federations and organizations in Kenya seem familiar. What do you think is the major problem?
Samuel, There is someone who is the overall in charge of the Industry and answerable to the president, what has been his input so far? ..
KS: What has been the impact of the sports act on our sports and football in particular?
I think there has been no impact and i also think most people do not understand it. I think there should be a complete overhaul of the sports act and simplify it for the benefits of our sports organization.
KS: Thank you for your time Mr. Rachier ...
As African elite national football teams battle for the continent's most coveted football prize, The African Cup of Nations in Gabon, Kenyans are watching from the sidelines. Hoping that in 2019, our national team will be there competing against and alongside the best as we did 13 years ago in 2004. But as we wait, do we have the necessary strategies and policies in place to take us to the Cup of Nations or even the World Cup. Cheza Sport CEO speaks to Kenyanstar about the need for football academies in improving the Kenyan game. For his efforts with Cheza Sports, Collins Olimba is our Kenyan Star of the week.
Kenyan Cricket is on the rise again, but not at the pace it should be. Reckons Kenyan International Irfan Karim. Karim remains hopeful but asserts that it will take efforts and commitment from all stakeholders for Kenya to regain the form that took her to the semi-Finals of the world cup in 2003. Kenyanstar caught up with the 24 years old Wicket Keeper and son of the great Aasif Karim for the following Interview on our Kenyan Star of the week column.
One on One with Kenyan International Arnold Origi. Year of Interview: 2011
KS: If the youngest brand of football fans in kenya were to ask who Arnold Origi is, what would be your response?
(Laughs) Arnold is just a hard working lad born and raised in eastlands Nairobi 26 years ago, easy going, loves what i do and always gives 100%.
KS: When did your football career begin? Besides Mathare United and Tusker FC what other local teams have you played for?
My career began in Dandora as a 9 year old, playing in the MYSA u-12 championships for young mighties and espanol. Other than Mathare United and Tusker FC I have also played for Ngara youth Pelico in the FKF division 2 and Pumwani sportive in the super 2 league.
KS: What are the lowest and highest moments in your football career?
That has to be first the horror against Eritrea at kasarani, but i think the lowest of all was my knee injury because I feel at that point just before the injury I was on the verge of getting to a very high level as goalkeeper so that together with a series of other small frustrating injuries kept me out of the game for almost a year effectively derailing my progress. The highest point has to be my first three caps for the national team. The feeling and the experience was and still is priceless.
KS: You are one of if not the finest goalkeepers the current generation of kenyan fans have seen, do you think you could reclaim Harambee stars number 1 Jersey?
(Laughs) ... Thank you for that! Absolutely.. I have no single doubt in my mind that am going to be back between the sticks for the national team very soon.
KS: What does it entail to be the first choice goalkeeper at Moss FK?
Hardwork and sacrifice. You have to work hard a lot and sacrifice maybe time to talk with friends and family back home to have an extra session.. Here African Goal Keepers have a very negative reputation so you have to be at your absolute best in every match because one or maybe two bad games and that could be you watching the rest of the season on the bench.
KS: Your kenyan fans learnt with great disappointment late last year that Moss FK had been relegated to the second division. What would you attribute as the major cause of your teams poor performance?
Yeah It was sad and disappointing that we got relegated especially for the fans and the board because they had really worked hard to help save the team from going bankrupt. The Main attribute to that was that a majority of key players and the technical bench were lazy and were not committed. The players were not working hard in training and in matches and the coaches did not have the commitment and did not show desire to lead the team and help avoid relegation.
KS: Should we expect to watch you play Top division soccer with moss fk next season?
Absolutely.. Because I think that now we have got a coach who has the best mentality and has instilled a different working culture to the playing unit and is very committed.
KS: Do you think kenyan football has come of age? If yes what has changed? if not what should be changed?
The kenyan league is not of age yet but there is not a single doubt that quite a lot has changed and KPL is doing a super fantastic job. A lot still needs to be improved and this might take time so we maybe have to be a little bit patient with the conclusion that it has come of age. Unpaid or delayed salaries and allowances should be non-existence by now, I think also something can be done with the playing surface where the matches are being played because now it's only three that are in shape. but all in all KPL is doing a fantastic Job. It may take time but with the kind of effort being put in the league will one day be modern.
KS: Who among the kenyan goalkeeprs playing in KPL and out of the country would you rate as the best.
The Best Kenyan Goalies Playing in the kenyan league i would say Martin Musalia, Francis Ochieng and Wilson Oburu.
KS: During the Guinea Bissau match there was talk of a feud between Mariga and Oliech, is this true and might it have contributed to Harambee stars 1-0 loss?
There was no feud between Mariga and Oliech.. This was just a case of trying to find scapegoats for the loss..The only thing that can be attributed to the loss was bad preparation for the match and I think the whole nation saw how bad it was.
KS: Do you think kenya has realistic chances of qualifying for the 2012 African cup of nation?
The Chance of qualifying is still there. I think it is too early to give up or even start doing mathematics with the table. We just have to stay focused and just prepare and prepare well for the next game and take each game at a time.
KS: What is your take on kenya's recent poor performances.
Its quite a shame that we have got bad results lately. But quite honestly the team's management has been more than poor. I think we have a great side with massive talent but haven't been given much to work with and to be quite honest, I feel sorry for the fans because they have always been fantastic hoping that soon rather than later we will give them something to cheer about, but all that has ended up in heart aches.
KS: What is your Parting shot to upcoming footballers and Kenyan fans?
To all the upcoming players I always say this to them; Discipline combined with hard work leads to success nothing more. And to all the fans, you have been fantastic in support of the kenyan game and the national team. I appreciate your patriotism and so please do not lose hope, keep on supporting the team.
What do Oliech, Rooney and Fabregas have in common? …No! it’s not the three vowels in their names. Once upon a time in a not-so distant past, they were among the world’s 20 brightest young talents. The only difference is that the latter pair has amassed 14 titles between them while Dennis “the menace” has NONE. At the end of their respective careers, what will we remember them by?
Kenyan national Raymond “King Kong” Ochieng’ will be taking on Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller this Saturday, 18th April,3:00 am Kenyan time. The bout will be hosted at Hinckley Casino and will be televised on CBS Friday Night Fights. Kenyanstar’s Fanuel Andwati managed to grab an interview with him ahead of the much anticipated fight.
He was born in a year when Nelson Mandela handed over the William Webb Ellis Trophy to Springbok captain Francois Pienaar after an entertaining Rugby World Cup final in Johannesburg. He is an Aries by birth, but let’s not pay much credence to his astrological profile.
Dan speaks fluent Japanese, enjoys the japanese culture but despite all this he is a true kenyan patriot who hopes to one day represent kenya at the Olympics. His basic element is water and once he goes into any swimming pool, he is there to win a race or have fun. He is so good, he is the vice captain of the USIU team. Join me find out more about Dan:
Name: Kennedy Owino Ochieng’
Age: 20 Years
Occupation: Student and cricket player
Hobbies: Playing and watching Cricket, Playing cricket on playstation, swimming, watching Formula 1 and Rugby.
Favourite food: Chicken and spaghetti
Name: Kennedy Owino Ochieng’
While in the process of wrapping up my tour of Strathmore University I was introduced to a young, talented handball player. His presence on the pitch is said to bring confidence to his team mates. This has resulted to multiple wins for any team he plays for. Read on to know more about Caleb.
Despite losing its last match 3-1 to Parklands, Multimedia University Hockey team still tops the Kenya National Hockey League with 20 points after playing 9 matches; the team has won 5 matches, drawn 3 and lost only one match. But who is behind this success? Its none other than Coach George Jalang’o commonly known as Jalas, Victor Nabiswa caught up with him and this is a story about his journey as a coach.
She started playing volleyball at the age of nine at Kawaii primary School. Meet Florence Bosire, one of the best setters in the country. Recently,she was part of the Prisons team that won the Africa Women Volleyball Championship trophy for the fourth time. She did not participate but had a hand in the win.
First published in the year 2012:
He was then KCB’s Top scorer with six goals to his name at the time of the Interview. He has featured prominently for the national Junior teams, the Under 20 and the Under 23. Before the start of the season, no one really knew much about the Friends School Kamusinga alumni.
However, his exploits on the pitch have made him a known figure in the local soccer scene. He even received his first ever Senior Harambee Stars Call up when the team was preparing for the match against Malawi in Nairobi.
Raphael Mumgai Kiongera, mostly known to his peers as Munga was born in Webuye on the night of 14th June in 1993. He loved soccer so much that he started playing as soon as he could co-ordinate his two feet.
He attended primary school in Webuye where he used to prominently feature for the school team in inter school competitions in Webuye. Funny enough, he never used to be a striker while at Primary school. He used to be a goalkeeper, who would switch once in a while to an offensive midfielder.
Upon Completion of primary school, he was enrolled at the Friends School Kamusinga, a school known better for basketball and hockey talent. However, he chose to continue with his love for football. At FSK, he started off as a keeper, and the then coach Mr. Oruko noticed his good goalkeeping exploits during inter class competitions and drafted him into the school team.
But Mr. Oruko would then be promoted to the School’s Games Master and the soccer team had a new coach, Mr. Waluvafu. The coach then noticed that Mungai would make a better attacking midfielder than a goalkeeper. It was then that he switched from his goalkeeping antics into midfield business.
He was later drafted back as a defensive midfielder at Form Two, a position he played up to the time he completed school.
Though he says they never had such great outings as a soccer team in Western Province, Mungai vividly remembers his last year in fourth form as one of the best years in the School’s soccer history.
“In that year, we participated in the Allan Bradley Tournament hosted by our school and managed to reach the finals. We had never gone into the finals before. We beat very notable schools like Kakamega high and Vihiga, but we lost to Manor house in the finals. In that same year, we managed to reach the Provincial Level of the school games. The last time the school reached the Provincials was in 1998,” says Mungai.
He never really thought he would take up soccer as a career. His parents too, never always advised him so, and neither did the principal of his school.
“We always used to collide with my parents. They thought I was playing with education by playing soccer all the time. The Principal of our school always said that football can never be taken as a career as he always pointed out at the usual wrangles that go on in soccer. I loved football but I never thought at even one point I would play professional football,” adds the KCB forward.
Upon Completion of high school, he immediately joined the Kenyatta University in 2011 where he is currently a second year pursuing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology. In his first year at KU, he went for trials at Nationwide side KRA, with his desire still burning to play soccer. Good for him, he was picked by the team. He only played there for six months before KCB noticed his talent and captured him.
2012 was his best season at KCB’. He scored six goals for them and was selected for the Under 23 National team and neared a call up to the national team. He vividly remembers the most important call of the year inviting him to the senior team like it was just yesterday.
“It was on a Monday, I was just relaxing in the house because we had played a game on Sunday. As I was resting I got a call from a new number. I received the call and got the most “shocking” news. The person at the other end told me that he was the coach and I was needed in camp immediately. I could not believe it, it was a huge surprise for me,” he says.
“I did not expect to get a call to the national team because the squad had already been named. It was a BIG surprise for me,” he adds.
He notes that he picked a lot of experience from his days in the National team camp, interacting with players who have plied their trade in Europe and also getting to learn a lot from the immediate former national team coach Francis Kimanzi.
As a young player, he has also had his ups and downs. For his lowest moment;
“That had to be in 2010 in the CECAFA Under 20 Championships in Eritrea. We had played so well in the tournament and were even hot favorites to win the cup. Everybody was talking about us. However, in the semi finals, we lost 2-1 to Uganda. I felt too bad because we lost due to simple mistakes, a match that we would have easily won,” says Mungai.
His highest moments;
“My career is still on a high and I know I will have bigger and better moments. But up to now, my highest moment is the Wesr African trip we had with the Under 23 team. We surpassed so many people’s expectations. I was happy meeting with top players I always see on television like Demba Ba and Demba Cisse, against Guinea also being tightly marked by players like Bobo Balde and Ishamel Bangoura who I have only heard on radio and seen on TV made me feel great,” he says with a huge smile on his face.
Challenges for a soccer player are always forthcoming for a soccer player. But for the youn Mungai, the biggest difference is how you handle those challenges that make you a better player.
“The biggest challenge I have seen in my soccer career is whe things just do not work out for the team. You do everything right and play the Coach’s tactics to the latter but you still go for almost a month without victory. The pressure is always high on everybody’s shoulders but it is always up to an individual to shell out of the pressure and come out a champion,” adds Mungai.
He puts his aspirations as one day playing in the elite European leagues.
“It is any player’s dreams to play in Europe. I am no different. I would like to work hard and see myself playing in bigger and better leagues,” says the avid Manchester United fan.
His role models,
“Here in Kenya, I admire Sofapaka’s John Baraza. He is a prolific scorer and despite his age he still runs around like and 18 year old. Ever since I started hearing of him, he has never stopped scoring. Around the globe, I admire Totenham Hotspur’s Raphael Van Der Vaart. He is an attack minded player whose philosophy is always forward play. You rarely see him playing the ball to his back. That is what I want to adapt as a player,” he adds.
And which striker would he feel complete twin striking alongside with?
“Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney is my role model. He is a team player who fights for the team and can lift the team when it is evidently down,” he says.
Of the defenders he has played against in the Kenyan Premier League, he has singled out Tusker duo of Brian Mandela and Joseph Shikokoti as the hardest nut to crack.
“The two are very intelligent defenders who play with a striker’s mind. They are never too rushy in making tackles and beating them is never easy. Most of the times you find them winning the ball so easily. I think they are the best defenders in the KPL,” he adds.
His parting shot;
“Always work hard and trust in God. Never let your dreams die. Challenges are part of life and never give up even if you find the biggest rock on your path. If you were destined to success and you work towards that, nothing will come in between you and your success”
Before this race, he was barely unknown. Peter Ndolo brushed aside seasonal runners in the 5000 meters men to qualify for the national trials set for next month. Ndolo who was participating as a guest runner beat a field of experienced runners to come in second in a hotly contested race held at the Nyayo Stadium.
Even thou they finished fourth in the just concluded Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association Basketball championships, Rueben Muraya is one person who has caught the eyes of many. His dazzling dribbling skills and speed has made him a crowd favorite and a contender for the MVP award.