Kenyanstar Of The Week - Ambrose Rachier

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 ... 

Richard Omwela retained his chairmanship during Kenya Rugby Union elections  held late on Wednesday pipping Sasha Mutai by just two votes.

Shujaa will start their Hong Kong Sevens campaign with a Pool B clash against Canada at 3.18pm East African Time  on Friday 7 April 2017.

They will then complete their pool matches on Saturday 8 April, starting with a fixture against series leaders South Africa at 8.56am and France at 12.34pm respectively.

The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens is the seventh round of the 2016/17 HSBC Sevens World Series. Shujaa currently sit 12th on the log with 40 points.

Janet "Shebesh" Okello leads the overall try scoring charts. The Northern Suburbs speedster has scored a series leading 26 tries.

The most eagerly waited match by Kenya as a country;  if Stars could pull a surprise in Lagos then Stars would be near their dream of playing in their first ever World Cup and that would have been France 98.

Kenyan driver Carl Tundo has proved to be a real contender in the race for the African Rally Championship title after he finished third in the Kenya Safari Rally over the weekend in Nairobi.

The Safari rally is the third round on the 2017 ARC calendar. Tundo, who survived a roll in the last stage of the race, came third in his Lancer Evo10.

Tapio Laukannen became the first Finnish to win the 65th edition of the Kenya Safari Rally. He showed earlier intent for victory posting the fastest time on day one.

Another Kenyan Jassi Chatthe, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer, who won the ARC title in 2015, finished sixth over the weekend, to go second with eight points, ten points behind Tundo.

The rest of the registered ARC drivers have not scored any points after three rounds. Ian Duncan and Ammar Slatch settled for second overall, 22 seconds behind the leader.

A total of 44 drivers started the Safari Rally that returns to ARC calendar after a hiatus two years. Safari Rally is one of the most competitive races on the African calendar.

Defending champion Don Smith from Kenya pulled out of the race at the 11th hour in protest claiming unfairness in the starting order. The final start list order released on Thursday had placed the 2016 champion as car number 33 yet the provisional start order had placed him at car number 2.

It means the rally revved off on Friday morning without the African defending champion. Yet, article 45.3 of the rules and regulations, gives the ARC contenders priority on a start order of a continental race.

Valery Bukera of Burundi and last year’s Mountain Gorilla victor was the best-placed foreign driver in 11th place out of the 30 finishers, while South Africa’s Geoff Bell was the best-placed two-wheel-driver in 14th place, driving a Datsun 260Z.

The fifth round of the ARC goes to South Africa for the Sasol Rally next month.

ARC Driver Standing

1. Carl Tundo (Ken): 18 points

2. Jassi Chatthe (Ken): 8 points

Safari Rally results

1. Tapio Laukkanen: 01:54:12

2. Ian Duncan: 01:54:34

3. Carl Tundo: 01:56:18

4. Onkar Rai: 01:57:01

5. Karan Patel: 02:01:13

The figure of Ksh. 600,000 released by Gor Mahia today, as the total gate collections for the Gor Mahia vs Zoo Kericho match in Kisumu are ‘stupid figures’,  Gor Mahia Organizing Secretary Judith Anyango has told Kenyanstar in a long ranging Interview.

Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech has been ruled out up for to a month with calf injury suffered in loss at West Brom, the scan has revealed.

The International World Games Association (IWGA) has announced that seven International Federations (IFs) have made bids for membership that meet its criteria, with their applications set to be discussed at the SportAccord Convention next month.

The International Basketball Federation (Fiba), International Triathlon Union (ITU), International Wushu Federation (IWUF), International Cycling Union (UCI), Union Internationale Motonautique (International Powerboating Union), International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) and United World Wrestling (UWW) have all applied to become IWGA members.

The federations have been invited to give a final presentation to the IWGA Annual General Meeting at SportAccord Convention on April 3 in Aarhus, Denmark.

The IWGA currently has 37 member federations. For IFs to become a member of the IWGA, membership of SportAccord is a prerequisite. Another requirement is that the sports, or disciplines of sports, proposed by the federations for inclusion in the World Games are not currently on the programme of the Olympic Games.

Wroclaw, Poland will stage the 2017 World Games from July 20-30, following on from the 2013 edition in Cali, Colombia. Birmingham, Alabama will be the first US destination to host the World Games since the inaugural event took place in Santa Clara in 1981 after it was formally awarded rights to the 2021 Games in April 2015.

The World Games - under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) - showcases more than 25 sports, such as squash, karate, sumo and dance sport.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has signalled its opposition to the proposed reforms of the world game outlined by the International Cricket Council (ICC) stating they will “adversely affect” the very nature of the world governing body.

The ICC is set to make a final decision on a new financial and governance structure at a meeting in April after agreeing “in principle” last month to reverse a move to put the boards of India, Australia and England in a dominant position of the game’s administration.

The BCCI, along with Sri Lanka Cricket, voted against the proposal to perform a u-turn on the 2014 decision after failing to defer the vote during February’s ICC board meeting in Dubai. Under the proposed restructuring, a new revenue distribution model would seek to counter the imbalance favouring the so-called big three, with India the most influential voice in the world game.

In a communication of its preliminary observations on the proposed ICC constitution, reported by the ESPNCricinfo website, the BCCI said the changes were “vague” and “unclear”. The status of the reforms package was thrown into question last week by the resignation of Shashank Manohar, who has been driving efforts to limit the influence of the ‘big three’, as chairman of the ICC.

“The proposed ICC constitution seeks to convert the ICC from a members' organisation to a supra-national regulator,” BCCI chief executive Rahul Johri wrote in an email sent to ICC chief operating officer Iain Higgins. “This is a fundamental change in the nature of the ICC that adversely affects the autonomy of its members.

“Further, several of the proposed changes are vague and unclear in their purport and intended operation. Given that one of the stated objectives behind the proposed changes is to bring in clarity and transparency, it is imperative that there is complete clarity on all the proposed changes so that members can properly understand the same before formulating their position thereon.”

Johri also reserved heavy criticism for the new financial model proposed by the ICC, stating it is “arbitrary” and not “agreeable”. Under the current ‘big three’ model, full members receive a contribution cost for participating in ICC events based on their perceived value in the sport. The new model is set to remove these contribution costs and instead introduce a set figure allocated to each of the 10 full members, along with two second-tier associate members - Ireland and Afghanistan.

Johri said, according to ESPNCricinfo: “The ICC is seeking to change the existing financial model without having any scientific formula or technical analysis behind the proposed changes. It is a fundamental attribute of any resource allocation system to first collect information and then allocate resources based on the information, priorities and a defined methodology following appropriate principles. The move to propose changes to the existing financial model without carrying out the aforesaid exercise is an arbitrary one.”

He added: “Any discussion on the proposed new financial model has to be based on clearly articulated and acceptable principles which recognise the relative contribution of BCCI to the revenues of the ICC. For the above reasons, we are not agreeable to the proposed new financial model.”

France’s national railway company, SNCF, and professional and financial services group Deloitte have signed up as official supporters of France’s bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

SNCF will advise the French Rugby Federation (FFR) on transport and sustainable mobility options, and support the implementation of a ticketing strategy for the World Cup.

The company will also provide logistical support to the FFR during different stages of the application process while promoting the bid both nationally and internationally.

Deloitte’s French division will work with the FFR on drafting budgets and financing plans for the event.

FFR president Bernard Laporte said: “(We are) very pleased to be able to count on the expertise of these two companies with world-renowned know-how to help us in our application. This support again illustrates the strong mobilisation of the economic world behind #France2023.”

France faces competition from Ireland and South Africa in its bid to stage the 2023 World Cup. The World Rugby Council will select the winning bid on November 15.

Former Manchester United striker Ole Gunner Solskjaer is confident that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will want to play in the Champions League at Old Trafford next season. 

Jose Mourinho snapped up the veteran forward on a free transfer last summer and the Swede has been a talismanic presence at Manchester United this season, scoring 26 goals in all competitions.

Ibrahimovic is yet to extend his contract, which expires in the summer, but according to Swedish daily Expressen, the forward will sign on the dotted line soon to prolong his stay at Old Trafford for one more season.

And Solskjaer believes the Swede will want to experience Champions League football with Manchester United, if they qualify for next season, as he feels there is no better club than the Red Devils to represent on the biggest stage of European football. 

The former Manchester United striker told Expressen: “We hope that we can qualify for the Champions League next season.  

“Then I expect Ibrahimovic will want to play on the biggest stage for the best club.

“There is no better place to play Champions League football than at Manchester United.

"They are the biggest and the best club.”

Despite winning countless league titles and domestic cups in various countries, Ibrahimovic is yet to win the Champions League in his career.

Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin has described potential interest in him from Barcelona as "special".

The 22-year-old penned a new six-year deal with the Gunners last November but has been strongly linked with a move away from the Emirates this summer, with a number of top clubs across Europe thought to be interested.

Bellerin began his career as part of the Barcelona youth setup before leaving for Arsenal in 2011, and in recent days the La Liga giants have been linked with a £35m bid this summer as they continue to look for a long-term replacement for Dani Alves.

"It's nice there are a lot of big clubs that are interested in me, but if one of those is Barcelona that's special," Bellerin told Sport.

"I don't forget I grew up in that home and I will never forget my stay at Barcelona... I left Barcelona because I felt the club was not confident in me, I didn't feel valued, I was disenchanted."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has described speculation of Bellerin's potential exit as 'very difficult to take seriously'.

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France’s national railway company, SNCF, and professional and financial services group Deloitte have signed up as official supporters of France’s bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

SNCF will advise the French Rugby Federation (FFR) on transport and sustainable mobility options, and support the implementation of a ticketing strategy for the World Cup.

The company will also provide logistical support to the FFR during different stages of the application process while promoting the bid both nationally and internationally.

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FFR president Bernard Laporte said: “(We are) very pleased to be able to count on the expertise of these two companies with world-renowned know-how to help us in our application. This support again illustrates the strong mobilisation of the economic world behind #France2023.”

France faces competition from Ireland and South Africa in its bid to stage the 2023 World Cup. The World Rugby Council will select the winning bid on November 15.

The protracted saga of Arsene Wenger’s contract situation is nearing its conclusion – and it’s not the one Arsenal fans were hoping for.

Although the offer of a new two-year deal has been on the table of some time, there had been speculation that Wenger would call time on his Emirates career after over two decades at the club.

However, despite another high-profile Champions League exit and another title challenge falling away before it could really begin, the Frenchman has seemingly become more resolute in his belief that he can steer the Gunners out of the trouble they now find themselves in.

Multiple sources on Sunday night and Monday morning have reported that Wenger will tell the Arsenal board that he wants to stay at the club beyond this season – for either one or two more years – in a decision that will not be a particularly popular one if and when it is confirmed.

In fact, the Guardian report suggests that Wenger and the board are looking for the best way of telling the fanbase that there will be no change in manager, which in itself would suggest just how toxic the atmosphere around the club has become. Confirming a deal so soon after a poor 3-1 defeat to West Brom – their fourth in five league matches – that has seen them slip to sixth in the table and putting their top four chances in real danger.