Kenyanstar Of The Week - Richard Omwela

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. 

Zoo Kericho and Muhoroni Youth FC played out to a 1-1 draw on Tuesday in round 7 of the Kenyan Premier League.

Zoo Kericho suffered an early setback nine minutes into the game after Isaac Kipyegon came off with an injury, and was replaced by Dominic Ouma. In the 23rd minute, they were awarded a penalty which Mike Madoya duly converted to give them an early lead.
Zoo Kericho were on course to their first win this season but Muhoroni Youth equalized eight minutes from time through Robert Ouma to deny them three points. This was Zoo’s second point in seven games and they remain at the bottom of the table with two points. Muhoroni Youth go to ninth with eight points.

Jacques Tuyisenge was born 25 years ago on 22nd September 1991 in Rwanda. He is a Rwandan professional football player who plies his trade in Kenya for Premier League side Gor Mahia. At 180 cm in height, he is an ideal striker who plays the forward role, but is also efficient as a left winger.

Tuyisenge started his football career at Kiyovu Sports Club, where he harnessed his prowess in the attacking role and other clubs started scouting and hunting for his signature. He played for Kiyovu until July 2011, when he joined Rwandese side Police FC who compete in the National Soccer League. He instantly became a regular starter for the club and in his first season playing for Police FC, he went on to score 11 goals. During his time there, Tuyisenge was well known for his powerful header which always found the back of the net. He played for the Rwandese outfit from 2011 to 2015, where he had a fruitful time there and was loved by all Police faithfuls, while being dreaded by other teams’ defenders.

Tuyisenge decided that it was time to explore other leagues and in January 2016, Gor Mahia acquired his services for a club record fee of 4 million shillings. He announced his arrival to the Kenyan Premier league with a goal on his debut against Kakamega Homeboyz. Tuyisenge went on to play 24 league matches in the season for K’ogalo, netting 10 goals. In the 2017 season, he so far has two league goals to his name and it is his goal that handed Gor Mahia the Super Cup against Tusker FC.

Jacques Tuyisenge has represented the Rwanda National Team 33 times, scoring 9 international goals.

One of the most prestigious track and fields events is set to begin in 10 days time in Doha, Qatar. The IAAF Diamond League is an annual meeting that encompasses 32 Diamond Disciplines, following a championship style model. 

According to iaaf.org athletes will earn points in the first 12 IAAF Diamond League meetings to qualify for two final meetings where $100,000 will be at stake in each of the 32 Diamond disciplines, including $50,000 for each winner. 

In previous seasons, athletes accumulated points throughout the IAAF Diamond League season with the overall winner of each of the 32 events being the athlete with the most points, irrespective of whether they won the final.

The season is now a race to reach the finals with the winners crowned as IAAF Diamond League champions. As in a championship, the performance of athletes in the final alone will determine who the champion will be and the prize money won.

The Prize structure is as follows:

1st $50,000

2nd $20,000

3rd $10,000

4th $6000

5th $5000

6th $4000

7th $3000

8th $2000

This season's meeting in Eugene's 1500m womens' event will be historic as  it will see seven, out of 15, women who have ran under 4 minutes participate. The most sub-four-minute times ever recorded at the meetings. These women include Olympic medallists Faith Kipyegon and Hellen Obiri, the two fastest Kenyan women in history over the distance.

2017 IAAF Diamond League calendar reads as follows;

5 May – Doha, QAT

13 May – Shanghai, CHN

27 May – Eugene, USA

8 Jun – Rome, ITA

15 Jun – Oslo, NOR

18 Jun – Stockholm, SWE

1 Jul – Paris, FRA

6 Jul – Lausanne, SUI

9 Jul – London, GBR

16 Jul – Rabat, MAR

21 Jul – Monaco, MON

20 Aug – Birmingham, GBR

24 Aug – Zurich, SUI

1 Sep – Brussels, BEL

After the weekend round of fixtures Green Sharks lead the Men Premier League table with 14 points followed by Kenya Police and Wazalendo with 13 points and 10 points respectively. However, Sharks have already played 7 games, that is three more than both Police and Wazalendo. At the bottom of the pile is TUK with no point after 4 games. 

When it comes to goals, the most prolific player at the moment is Sharks' Chris Muchwanju with 4 goals. Players that have been regulars on the scoresheet in the Men League include:

Chris Muchwanjo (Green Sharks)- 4 goals

Festus Onyango (Strathmore Uni)- 3 goals

Kevin Simiyu (Green Sharks) - 3 goals

Dolean Mugaisi (Nakuru Athletic)- 3 goals

Nelson Shirako (Wazalendo)- 3 goals

Emmanuel Simiyu (Butali Warriors)- 3 goals

George Mutira (Chase Sailors) - 3 goals

In the Ladies category Telkom Orange dominate the league. They have a 100 percent record with 5 wins in 5, cementing their place in the summit of the league. JKUAT and Chase Amira follow with 8 points and 7 points respectively, though the two have a game in hand over Telkom. UoN and MSC are at the bottom of the pile with no points even though MSC have only played 2 games compared to UoN's 4 games.

In the scorers' chat Telkom ladies foster their supremacy as they have produced the top three scorers so far. Audrey Omaido leads with 6 goals, averaging to an impressive 1.2 goals per game. The top hitters are as follows:

Audrey Omaido (Telkom Orange) - 6 goals

Jackie Mwangi (Telkom Orange)- 5 goals

Maureen Okumu (Telkom Orange)- 4 goals

Susan Oketch (Chase Amira)- 4 goals

Caroline Guchu (Telkom Orange)- 3 goals

Lorraine Nondi (Chase Amira)- 3 goals

Pauline Naise ( Chase Amira)- 3 goals

Gilly Okumu (Strathmore Uni)- 3 goals.

Mary Keitany took 41 seconds off the women’s-only world record* at the Virgin Money London Marathon, running 2:17:01 at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Sunday (23).

Keitany said in the build-up to this year’s race she was in shape to break Paula Radcliffe’s mark of 2:17:42 and while she demurred when asked about the possibility of bettering Radcliffe’s outright mark of 2:15:25, Keitany was running minutes inside Radcliffe’s schedule in the first half.

Keitany was paced by her training partner Caroline Kipkirui, who she was full of praise.

“I want to thank the pacemaker who was taking me all the way to 14 miles,” said Keitany. “From there, I started to go alone and see how my body was.”

Resolution Impala Saracens II successfully defended their Eric Shirley crown with a 13-12 win over KCB II in the final played at the USIU Ground on Saturday 22 April 2017.

This match was a close contest through and through, the teams heading into the interval locked 0-0. Collins Wanjala’s unconverted try after the restart gave KCB II a 5-0 lead but Quinto Ongo’s two quick penalties saw Impala II go 6-5 up.

Vincent Onyala landed a converted try as KCB II went 12-6 up but a moment of indiscipline saw them crumble, conceding a penalty try that handed Impala II the win.

Rugby enthusiasts around the country have a reason to be happy as they can now look forward to this years’ National Sevens Circuit set to start from late July to early November this year.

The circuit is a series of sevens a side competition taking places in various towns and cities in the country. It also brings together passionate rugby fans to mingle, have fun and of course enjoy some rugby.

Rugby in the country has grown popularity due to the National Sevens Circuit and the success of the Shujaa on the world stage.

This years’ schedule is as follows:

July 22, 2017- Mombasa Driftwood

July 29, 2017- Kabeberi Sevens, Nairobi

Sept 2, 2017- Prinsloo, Nakuru

Sept 9, 2017- Homeboyz

Sept 23, 2017- Christie, Quins

Sept 30, 2017- Dala Sevens, Kisumu

Nov 5, 2017- Safaricom Sevens, Nairobi

 

 

Kenyan football governing bodies KPL and FKF have confirmed that SuperSport’s decision to pull out of the deal of broadcasting Kenyan Premier League will not be revised after the sports channel company categorically reiterated the decision. The South African company has been sponsoring the Kenyan League for almost ten years but recently decided to terminate its relationship with Kenyan football

FKF had tried negotiations to see if SuperSport will change their decision but according to capital fm, they confirmed that SuperSport is gone for good. ``Yes, we got a response from SuperSport and the long and short story of it is that they are not coming back,’’ asserted FKF Chief Executive Officer Robert Muthomi on Monday morning.

KPL CEO Jack Oguda backed Muthomi’s words, who also said that there are other suitors eyeing the broadcasting deal. `` It’s an unfortunate event for Kenyan football but that doesn’t mark the end of football in our country. In the late 2000s, we didn’t have a broadcast sponsor but we still played football. For us, it’s a big challenge but what we are working on is to try and value the product properly to get more partners on board.’’

SuperSport’s decision had other effects apart from the league, with several people becoming jobless and the clubs’ monthly grants are also set to be reduced.

Muthomi said that they will be holding a Joint Executive Committee (JEC) meeting and also an FKF National Executive meeting to discuss the way forward and also discuss on some interests that have arisen. Oguda on his part suggested that they are trying to move forward with the issue. ``Our main focus at the moment is to see that we are back on TV and we get a good deal from whoever partner will come in,’’ he said.

 

After one season in the English Championship, Newcastle United secured an immediate return to the Premier League by beating Preston North End 4-1 on Monday.

Under Rafa Benitez, the former Liverpool manager who won the Champions League during his time at Anfield, Newcastle enjoyed an impressive season although two defeats and a draw in its last three league games led to a few nerves at the north-east club.

One of England's best supported clubs which regularly attracts crowds more than 50,000 for home games, Newcastle sealed promotion with two matches remaining.

Championship leader Brighton and Hove Albion secured one of the two automatic promotion places a week ago. Brighton leads Newcastle by four points.

Benitez was unable to save Newcastle from relegation last season after being appointed for the last 10 games, but decided not to activate a clause in his three-year contract allowing him to leave if the club was demoted.

The former Real Madrid manager, after meetings with owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley, announced his intention to stay in May and his decision has been vindicated.

Despite selling Dutch midfielder Gini Wijnaldum to Liverpool for a reported 25 million pounds following relegation, Benitez has acted astutely in the transfer market.

The signings of striker Dwight Gayle from Crystal Palace and Scotland winger Matt Ritchie from Bournemouth have paid dividends, with Gayle scoring 22 league goals and Ritchie 12.

An awful start to the season when Newcastle lost its opening two league games was quickly erased with five successive wins, creating a momentum that stalled only in the past month, on the verge of promotion. It got there in the end.

Manchester City look set to pip rivals Manchester United to the signing of highly-rated Monaco left-back Benjamin Mendy, according to the Daily Star.

Both Manchester sides are in the market for a new left-back at the end of the season, with City keen to strengthen in this area come the summer.

United, meanwhile, are looking to replace Luke Shaw at left-back, with Jose Mourinho prepared to allow the England international to leave at the end of the season.

Mendy has been mooted with a possible Premier League switch in the past, with Liverpool and Arsenal also believed to be interested in the France international.

However, the 22-year-old will only consider a move away from Monaco for another team in the Champions League, which puts City in pole position to secure his services.

Yamaha dominated the season's first two grands prix with Maverick Vinales, but Marquez won from pole in America and moved up to third in the championship, 18 points off new leader Valentino Rossi.

Honda ran first and second for most of the race with Dani Pedrosa and Marquez, while Vinales had an early crash from fourth, and though his pace faded Pedrosa was still able to finish third behind Rossi.

The Japanese marque will test at Le Mans next Tuesday with Marquez and Pedrosa, who will both be using the second day of their five-day allocation for the season.

All five of MotoGP's other manufacturers will also be present at the French track, with Aprilia also opting to hold a private two-day test this week at Mugello.

Marquez, who dislocated his shoulder at Jerez in February during his first private test day of the year, believes the Le Mans test will be crucial for improving the RC213V to be able to take on Yamaha.

"It's important [to win] because we are third again in the championship," said Marquez, who had crashed when leading the previous race in Argentina. "Before the race I was eighth, and I said 'OK, we need to start coming back.'

"Still I don't feel perfect with the bike, we are missing something. Now we have an important test at Le Mans and an important race at Jerez.

"We need to understand [the problem], because if we understand it there and fix this problem, we can fight strongly for the championship."

Marquez was unsure where Honda's improvement relative to Yamaha had come from at Austin and said he had not been comfortable with the bike even on the way to victory.

"I was playing a lot with the set-up, trying to find stability and have more confidence," he said. "For some reason we didn't find it, then I was looking to tyre life because the front tyre I was destroying a lot.

"On Friday with just 12 laps my front tyre was destroyed and impossible to ride fast. Then on Saturday we did a great pace, but we don't know if it was the temperature.

"[In the race] everyone suffered but we were able to manage quite well and I felt better. But still it didn't feel like I wanted."

Honda informed Marquez that Vinales had crashed via his pitboard, though the reigning champion said he had already seen a replay of the incident on the video screens.

"It didn't change my plan, which was to try and understand the situation," said Marquez when asked if knowing Vinales was out had influenced his subsequent riding.

"The mistake of Argentina was big and I didn't want to repeat it."

Following the news that Serena Williams was two months pregnant when she won the Grand Slam, Rev. Fred Nile MP, has called for the world champion to be stripped of the title, claiming “foetal personhood” means she was unfairly advantaged.

“She was playing doubles in a singles tournament!” Nile screamed at the ‘Day of the Unborn Child’ protest.

“I believe that ‘life at conception’ should be the law, and that clearly means two people won the Grand Slam,” said Nile, who is both an avid fan of professional tennis and aggressively campaigning to legislate how people use their uterus.

“That’s clearly against the rules!”

However, feminists argue Nile’s view that pregnancy is a sporting advantage shows ignorance to the realities facing those who are pregnant.

“Serena Williams was in control of her own body during the Grand Slam tournament, and as such has the right to her title, and the right, always, to bodily autonomy”, said Immy Grantson, an outspoken activist campaigning for progress on women’s issues.

“Williams, like all people, has the right to choose what she does with her body: whether that be powerful backhands, and/or be pregnant”, said Grantson.

This comes at a crucial time in New South Wales legislation. Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi’s End12 Campaign hopes to make it legal for world class athletes to choose whether or not they are pregnant.

When asked for comment by The Garter Press, Venus Williams, who lost to Serena Williams under the now contentious circumstances, said she was “excited to be an aunt”.

Serena Williams, who announced her pregnancy last week, reclaimed the No. 1 ranking on the WTA Tour on Monday. The 23-time Grand Slam winner takes over the top spot for the eighth time in her career and 317th week overall, third all-time behind Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova. 

Williams will not play again in 2017 because of her pregnancy -- but plans to return in 2018 -- so her leap to the No. 1 position will be a temporary one. 

No. 2 Angelique Kerber will once again unseat Williams atop the rankings if she wins her first two matches at this week's Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart. 

Williams, who got engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in December, posted a photo on Snapchat last Wednesday, prompting widespread speculation that she was pregnant with her first child. 

The 35-year-old Williams took a side-profile bathing suit mirror selfie with the caption "20 weeks" that showed her baby bump. A representative for Williams confirmed the pregnancy to the media later in the day. 

On Monday, Williams wrote a moving letter to her unborn child in an Instagram post, sharing her excitement in reaching No. 1 again. 

"My Dearest Baby, You gave me the strength I didn't know I had. You taught me the true meaning of serenity and peace. I can't wait to meet you. I can't wait for you to join the players box next year," Williams wrote alongside a photo of herself in a swimsuit. 

"But most importantly, I am so happy to share being number one in the world with you.... once again today. On @alexisohanian bday. ... from the world's oldest number one to the world's youngest number one. -- Your Mommy." 

Williams holds the record for the most Grand Slam titles of any player in the Open Era, clinching her 23rd at January's Australian Open, her last tournament

Lionel Messi on Monday hailed Barcelona's dramatic 3-2 Clasico victory over arch-rivals Real Madrid as an "important step" in the race for the La Liga title. Messi's last-gasp goal marked his 500th for Barcelona and blew the La Liga title race wide open at Real Madrid on Sunday.

Victory takes Barca top of the table thanks to their better head-to-head record with both sides locked on 75 points, but Madrid have a game in hand. 

"We went to the Bernabeu to win and to continue to fight for La Liga," the five-time Ballon d'Or winner said on his Facebook page.

"There is still a long way to go, but we left with the joy of having taken an important step," added Messi, the top scorer in La Liga with 31 goals, alongside a photo of himself celebrating one of his goals.

Barcelona are bidding for a third straight La Liga and Spanish Cup double. They play Alaves in the Cup final on May 27.

There are no two teams in sports history with this much rivalry, there is no single match that amasses greater footballing talents in one pitch, there is not a better derby in world football, El- Clasico, where the Galacticos from Madrid clash with Barca from Catalonia in a backdrop of over 600 million spectators across 185 countries in the world, this is football at its prime.

Real Madrid and Barcelona have met for 233 official Clasico matches, a rivalry that has span across 115 years. Out of the 233 encounters Los Blancos have won 93 while Barca have 91 wins, 49 of the games ended all square. The matches has always been too close to call as in the last 5 league fixtures each has two wins with the most recent match ending as a draw.

When it comes to goals Leo Messi that is top of the scoring chats with 21 Clasico goals in 33 matches. He is followed by a Real legend Alfredo De Stefano with 18 goals, two more than Cristiano Ronaldo. However, Messi has been on a 6 game goal drought against Real and it is Neymar who has the best scoring and assist record against their rivals with 6 goals and 3 assists. Barca will clearly miss the services of the Brazilian attacker as his suspension is confirmed.

The best in the world have played in this fixture with the likes of Ronaldo De Lima, Luis Figo, Michael Laudrup and the current Barca coach Luis Enrique having played for both teams.

This editions Clasico will be as decisive as always as a win for Real Madrid will all but guarantee them the league title.

 

Who will be the Barcelona manager next season? One of the names linked with the job is Laurent Blanc. He was a player at Camp Nou, knows the club and is currently out of work. After leaving PSG he decided he wanted to rest, now, according to his agent Jean-Pierre Menes, he is ready to work again.

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Those who love him, love him with so much passion. Those who hate him, also do so with the same gusto. If a book on ‘The most hated footballers’ were ever to be written, several chapters would be dedicated to him.

Matatu culture is part of living in Nairobi City and the transport means used by all. Soccer fans use their own cars, buses and matatus for traveling to away matches.

The day is September 26th 2010. Kenya U-20 coach Vince Ombiji brought on a young and promising player as the national junior side took on Lesotho. The rookie had an almost immediate impact, as he ran down the Lesotho defense rugged. Fleet foot works, pacy and pin point crosses made him a darling to the fans instantly. Kenya’s next big thing was alive.

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.

Eric Ochieng' aka Cantona is one of most iconic soccer athletes to grace Kenya Premier League in the 1990s.

He is the Kenyan version of Portuguese super agent Jorge Paulo Agostinho Mendes. He is many things to many people, and recently added another feather to his cap by venturing into player and coaches representation. Starting off as a journalist, he grew through the ranks to become a Television producer, took the big risk and ventured into football administration, before jumping ship to start what has been a largely successful venture of talent management.

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.

A terrific dribbler with an eye for goal. His skills and potential on the pitch have always left fans ecstatic. His dazzling runs and fantastic crosses have raised his profile in the local scene. He slowly grew through the ranks both at club and national level. He recently added to the statistics of players who have made the bold move from AFC Leopards to bitter rivals Gor Mahia where he penned a long term contract. 

Besides the magic on the pitch, critics have continually accused him of laziness and being a party animal. Is he? Kenyanstar sat with John ‘Softie’ Ndirangu and here is his story.

Kenyanstar: Thank you for your time. Tell us about your football journey so far.

John Ndirangu: I started playing competitive football at Nakuru AllStars when I was in form 2, by then the club was in playing in Nationwide League. I was with them all along, even when they got promoted in 2014 to the Kenya Premier League.  As a footballer, I have faced both difficult and easy times.

KS: Where did this nickname Softie come from?

JN: I rarely talk too much, and people say my face is soft. So, Softie.

KS: Please tell us about your time at Nakuru AllStars.

JN: It was a bit hard for me since there were the demands on the pitch and at the same time I was schooling. I had to carefully plan my time. However, sometimes it was difficult for me because I had to leave school for training and when I got back to class I was so tired and couldn't focus fully.  

KS: You made a name for yourself  while you were at Allstars. Tell us about your time playing there and your relationship with the players, coach, management etc.

JN: First, I would like to thank Robert Muthomi. He took me as his son, he took care of me,he used to advise me and  managed me well. I also thank everyone who coached me. During my time there, I learnt something from all coaches and this made me grow to who I am today. My teammates were also supportive, as football is a team sport and you support each other. 

KS: You would later join Bandari. However, you never stayed there for long...

JN: I would not wish to discuss about my time at Bandari. It was very difficult for me.

KS: What exactly affected you?

JN: Lack of play time.

KS: Well, you at one point joined Kariobangi Sharks. What necessitated the move?  

JN: After Bandari I went back to Nakuru Allstars to get my form back. However, at the end of the season the team got relegated and so we agreed with Robert Muthomi, the CEO,  that since I had already made my name and was still young, it wasn't proper to play in the lower tier. Therefore I joined Kariobangi Sharks. We agreed with President Nick Mwendwa that if the team won't get promoted to the top league he releases me and that's what happened when I joined AFC Leopards.

KS: Leopards - You joined the club, lots of expectations, but left. Kindly tell us about your time at Leopards.

JN: I enjoyed my time at Leopards and would like to thank the management and coaches. They believed in me and I wish them all the the best. In December, I was asked by Leopards to look for a suitable club where I would go on loan and I felt it was not good for me. Therefore I  asked them to just release me instead. As a team last season we were unlucky not to do well and meet the expectations but I personally think that I played my part and was very surprised when they suggested a loan move for me in the transfer window. 

KS: You have some serious football skills. Very good running, very good dribbles. What's the tactical secret for you?

JN: Apart from talent in me I do watch skillful players like Neymar, Ronaldinho and Cristiano and try apply what I see on the pitch. Besides, I also work very hard.  

KS: Harambee Stars: You have grown from U-23 to the senior team. Tell us about your time and experience so far at Stars

JN: Each and every coach has his style of coaching and the kind of players he wants. I think during Bob Williamson's time I was called several times to the national team. He liked my dribbling skills and speed and he would tell me to just do that in the pitch, since that is what made him like me and give me a call up.  

KS: We haven't seen you at the national team in recent days. Why?

JN: As I have said each and every coach has his style of coaching and kind of players he wants. However, while at AFC Leopards I earned a call up.  

KS: You made what many call a 'daring move' by switching from Leopards to Gor. Do you feel it was a daring move or just any other normal transfer?

JN: I believe if you have talent and you work hard everything is possible. Talent can never be hidden. Kama unajua unajua. For me I see it as a normal move. My time will come and I'll shine.

KS: Gor Mahia - How is life there. What are your targets/goals?

JN: I am enjoying life at Gor. They do things professionally and think that's what differentiates Gor with other clubs. My target is to play as many games and help the team lift the title and in future I go to Europe. 

KS: You have been accused of the following: Missing training at times intentionally, partying a little too much and alcoholism. Your response?

JN: In life you must have friends and enemies and for you to make in life you must have enemies. All these stories came up when I was at Leopards. When Ivan Minnaert left a Luhya coach took over and he only wanted Luhya players. Therefore, Ian otieno and  I decided to stay at home because no matter how hard we worked in training, we weren't being considered.  On the issue of alcohol, I even cannot tell how it tastes. Yes, I used to go to clubs and watch football while drinking Delmonte juice.  

KS: Any closing words? 

JN: I just want to thank God for the gift of life and talent. I also want to tell my fans that they should  not lose hope in me. I know they believe in me and I won't fail them. 

KS: Thanks for your time Softie!

 

READ: John 'Softie' Ndirangu: Major Transfer Or Forced Out? 

Former Inter Milan midfielder McDonald Mariga has come out to praise the Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino for the key role he has paid in developing the career of his brother Victor Wanyama.  

The Kenyan International skipper has been a vital part of the Spurs midfield, prove of just how much Pochettino trusts Wanyama. Big Vic first played under the Argentine gaffer at Southampton and were later reunited at Tottenham last summer.

“He (Wanyama) said Pochettino is the coach who has made him. He’s the one who, when Victor came to Southampton, he taught him what to do and how to play, all the things. He’s the one who taught him everything and made even more qualities for Victor. He gave him exposure and confidence. If you don’t have confidence from the coach, you cannot perform well. He’s helped him a lot,” Mariga told ESPN.

Pochettino’s favorite 3-4-2-1 formation has suited Wanyama perfectly as he provides cover to the wing backs when they move forward to attack, something that has put Wanyama in favor with both the manager and the Spurs supporters.

The midfielder will be expected to take his spot back in the starting XI for the FA Cup semi-final meeting with Chelsea at Wembley this Saturday evening after a minor injury.

As the title race stiffens and Spurs still on track for the cup glory, Wanyama may just be the rock Tottenham needs to win the first trophy in over years.

Following the news that Serena Williams was two months pregnant when she won the Grand Slam, Rev. Fred Nile MP, has called for the world champion to be stripped of the title, claiming “foetal personhood” means she was unfairly advantaged.

“She was playing doubles in a singles tournament!” Nile screamed at the ‘Day of the Unborn Child’ protest.

“I believe that ‘life at conception’ should be the law, and that clearly means two people won the Grand Slam,” said Nile, who is both an avid fan of professional tennis and aggressively campaigning to legislate how people use their uterus.

“That’s clearly against the rules!”

However, feminists argue Nile’s view that pregnancy is a sporting advantage shows ignorance to the realities facing those who are pregnant.

“Serena Williams was in control of her own body during the Grand Slam tournament, and as such has the right to her title, and the right, always, to bodily autonomy”, said Immy Grantson, an outspoken activist campaigning for progress on women’s issues.

“Williams, like all people, has the right to choose what she does with her body: whether that be powerful backhands, and/or be pregnant”, said Grantson.

This comes at a crucial time in New South Wales legislation. Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi’s End12 Campaign hopes to make it legal for world class athletes to choose whether or not they are pregnant.

When asked for comment by The Garter Press, Venus Williams, who lost to Serena Williams under the now contentious circumstances, said she was “excited to be an aunt”.

Everton are considering a pre-season friendly in Tanzania as part of their expected new sponsorship deal with SportPesa.

Drogba had been without a club since leaving MLS outfit Montreal Impact in November, after rejecting a move to Brazilian giants Corinthians in February.

However, the 39-year-old Ivorian striker has finally found a home in Phoenix, where he will also be part of their "MLS expansion franchise ownership group."

Phoenix are in their fourth season in the USL, 12th in the Western Conference with one win after three games.

"I have taken my time in deciding what I wanted to do next and am really excited about the opportunity at Phoenix Rising FC," said Drogba.

"After seeing firsthand the potential for expansion of the sport in North America and getting to know the ownership group in Phoenix, I am convinced that I can help them develop their organization on and off the pitch.

"I look forward to their continued success in the USL, and no city is better positioned than Phoenix for expansion into the MLS."

Drogba - a two-time African Footballer of the Year – scored 23 goals in 41 competitive appearances for the Impact, having won four Premier League titles and the Champions League among other trophies with Chelsea.

"We want our club and our city to be synonymous with international excellence, and Didier Drogba is a testament to Phoenix Rising FC's commitment to that mission,” said Phoenix Rising club governor Berke Bakay.

"Soccer is an international language understood by sports fans all over the world, and we want to help inspire fluency among new fans everywhere we play throughout North America."

Wilfried Zaha has rejected Gareth Southgate’s suggestion that he had imposed a timescale to be selected again by England, effectively holding the national team to ransom, and has defended his right to instead represent the country of his birth, Ivory Coast.

Bale and Ronaldo both played as Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 yesterday. Goals from Karim Benzema and Casemiro strengthened their grip on the La Liga title.

However, despite the victory, all is not well at the Santiago Bernabeu. Spanish outlet Diario Gol claimed yesterday that Ronaldo was fuming with Zinedine Zidane for substituting him late on.

The former Manchester United star provided the assist for Benzema's goal but was replaced by Isco in the 79th minute. It was said that Ronaldo believed Bale should have been substituted instead after an abject display.

But Diario Gol claim Bale was also angry after the game. The former Tottenham star's stock is rising in Spain after helping Madrid win the Champions League twice in the past three years. And the Wales international reportedly believes Ronaldo is preventing him from becoming the club's main man.

Bale has to play on the left wing due to Ronaldo's desire to play further up the field. He feels that Zidane is making a mistake by deploying him in that position as he prefers to play on the right, where he can cut inside.

Club chief Florentino Perez is now monitoring the situation as Madrid's two biggest stars aim to do outdo the other. 

"Victor suffered a big injury on his back and we’ll see now what happens. We’re sad for both players and now we have to wait," was Pochetino's response on Victor Wanyama's injury.

A friendly match between Ivory Coast and Senegal was abandoned after 88 minutes after crowd trouble spilled onto the pitch with dozens of fans invading the field of play and confronting players.

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