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. 

The Football Kenya Federation has postponed National Super League, Division One League, Women Premier League and Women Division One League matches scheduled for this weekend due to the political situation in the country.

The decision was arrived at following a consultative meeting between the National Leagues and Competitions Committee and the Referees Appointment Committee.

“It’s unfortunate that the political situation as currently is has made it impossible for most clubs to train and/or for officials to travel,” said FKF CEO Robert Muthomi.

“In light of the aforementioned and as a precaution we have decided to postpone this weekend’s matches to a date that will be communicated in due course,” he added.

AC Milan striker Carlos Bacca has joined LaLiga side Villarreal on a season-long loan deal. This is Bacca's second stint in Spain after two successful season with Sevilla before signing for Milan in 2015. 

The Colombian international has been touted as a replacement for Roberto Soldado, who joined Fenerbahce last week. The 30-year-old has scored 165 goals in 336 games in his career, with 13 in 39 coming for Milan last season.

"The deal includes an option to buy the player once the campaign is finished," Villarreal said in a statement.

 

Paris Saint-Germain forward Jesse Rodriguez has completed his move to Stoke City on a season-long loan deal.

The former Real Madrid striker will now be with the Premier League club until July 2018 after finding playing time hard to come by at PSG, having featured in just nine matches for the Ligue 1 side and scored one goal.

"Jesse was a man in demand when PSG made it clear they would allow him to leave on loan and we’re delighted he has chosen to join us. He hasn’t had the happiest of periods in his career in Paris but he’s still only a young man and is hungry to make a big impression in the Premier League. His pedigree speaks for itself and he will most certainly add to the firepower at our disposal,” Stoke's Chief Executive  Tony Scholes told the club's official website.

Jesse becomes the sixth summer signing for the Potters subsequent to Darren Fletcher, Kurt Zouma, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Bruno Martins Indi and Josh Tymon joining the club.

 

Six amendments to the Laws of Rugby will come into effect from November when the Kenyan season gets underway with the pre-season Floodlit tournament and the National leagues thereafter. Local teams have been encouraged to seek clarification from trainers and educators.

The amendments,passed by World Rugby’s Executive Committee in July 2017,relate to the scrum (Law 20) and tackle/ruck (Laws 15 and 16), are aimed at making the game simpler to play and referee as well as further promoting player welfare. They have been approved following extensive game data analysis as well as player, coach, match official and union feedback from the tournaments in which these six aspects of law were trialed.

The six law amendments will now join the scheduled global law trial programme, completing a total package of 11 aspects of law, and will debut in full from 1 August, 2017 in the northern hemisphere and from 1 January, 2018 in the south.

 The six aspects of law approved to join the global trial programme are:

 1. Law 20.5 and 20.6 (d) 

No signal from referee. The scrum-half must throw the ball in straight but is allowed to align their shoulder on the middle line of the scrum, therefore allowing them to stand a shoulder width towards their own side of the middle line.

Rationale: To promote scrum stability, a fair contest for possession while also giving the advantage to the team throwing in (non-offending team).

 2. Law 20.9 (b) Handling in the scrum – exception

The number eight shall be allowed to pick the ball from the feet of the second-rows. 

Rationale: To promote continuity.

 3. Law 20.8 (b) Striking after the throw-in

Once the ball touches the ground in the tunnel, any front-row player may use either foot to try to win possession of the ball. One player from the team who put the ball in must strike for the ball.

Sanction: Free-kick

Rationale: To promote a fair contest for possession.

4. Law 15.4 (c)

The tackler must get up before playing the ball and then can only play from their own side of the tackle “gate”.

Rationale: To make the tackle/ruck simpler for players and referees and more consistent with the rest of that law.

 5. Law 16 Ruck

A ruck commences when at least one player is on their feet and over the ball which is on the ground (tackled player, tackler). At this point the offside lines are created. Players on their feet may use their hands to pick up the ball as long as this is immediate. As soon as an opposition player arrives, no hands can be used.

Rationale: To make the ruck simpler for players and referees.

 6. Law 16.4: Other ruck offences

A player must not kick the ball out of a ruck. The player can only hook it in a backwards motion.

Sanction: Penalty

Rationale: To promote player welfare and to make it consistent with scrum law.

 The six new aspects of law were part of the original 2015 laws review process, and were recommended to move to closed trial to provide a further analysis opportunity before global trial could be considered.

 These closed trials were operational at this year’s World Rugby U20 Championship, World Rugby Nations Cup, World Rugby Pacific Challenge, Americas Rugby Championship and Oceania Rugby U20 Championship, with positive outcomes:

 Scrum outcomes: 

More ball coming back into play with fewer penalties and fewer collapses

The ball was thrown in without delay, with scrums continuing to be stable prior to throw-in

No collapses occurred by the number eight picking the ball up from under the second rows 

Tackle outcomes:  

Feedback indicated that the tackle was easier to referee with more clearly defined offside lines and tacklers not interfering with the quality of the ball with more players on their feet allowing counter rucking.

 A comprehensive analysis was undertaken by the specialist Laws Review Group, the Scrum Steering Group, considering detailed and highly-positive union, player and match official feedback, before the recommendations were approved by the Rugby Committee and subsequently the Executive Committee. The trials were also considered at the high performance match officials and coaches meeting earlier this year. 

 World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “World Rugby continually reviews the laws to ensure that the game is as enjoyable, simple and safe as possible at all levels. I would like to thank our unions for their full support throughout the process, the experts who evaluated the closed trial data and look forward to seeing the full results of the global trial.” 

 Rugby Committee Chairman John Jeffrey added: “These law amendments are designed to improve the experience of those playing and watching the game at all levels and to avoid negative play where possible. The results of the closed trials were highly-encouraging with more ball out from the scrum, fewer penalties and better stability, which has a player welfare benefit too.”

 Implementation this year will enable at least a year of evaluation before the moratorium on law amendment begins a year out from Rugby World Cup 2019. 

Law Review Group members: Alain Rolland; Rhys Jones; Mark Harrington (all World Rugby); Nigel Melville (RFU); Ben Whitaker (ARU); David Nucifora (IRFU); Didier Retiere (FFR); Dave Rennie (NZR), Francesco Ascione (FIR); Rachael Burford (IRPA); Chris Paterson (SRU); Pablo Bouza (UAR); Paul Adams (WRU); Chean Roux (SARU). Previous inputs within the process include Paul O’Connell (IRPA); Eddie Jones (RFU); Nigel Whitehouse (WRU) and Dr Martin Raftery (World Rugby).

 

Tusker FC left it late to register a 4-2 win over Nairobi Stima in a friendly match played on Wednesday August 16 the Stima club.

The match for the Brewers served as preparation for their Gotv Shield semifinal fixture against Vihiga United FC which is due this weekend.

Stima were first to score through Ivan Anguyo from the penalty spot in the 12th minute before Stephen Owusu leveled matters in the 40th minute after connecting with Ndolo's cross. Three minutes later, Stima were back ahead, this time former Sofapaka winger Patrick Mugendi finding the back of the net to take his team leading into the break.

Tusker brought in a new team in the second half and the changes seemed to work for them as Michael Khamati scored in the 57th minute to cancel Stima's lead.

Shortly after coming on for Allan Wanga, Victor Ndinya took the Brewers ahead for the first time in the game before Paul Odhiambo registered a late goal to seal a 4-2 win for Tusker.

 

The Kenyan Premier League match pitting AFC Leopards against Tusker has had a change in date, as revealed by Leopards on their social media platforms.

The match was supposed to be played on Tuesday August 22, 2017 but has been pushed to Thursday August 24, 2017.

Before that mouth-watering clash, AFC Leopards will first take on Wazito FC in the quarterfinals of the Gotv Shield tournament on Sunday August 20, 2017 at the Nyayo Stadium. The match which is expected to kick off at 15:15 will also be aired live on Go TV. The Brewers on the other hand will entertain Vihiga United FC as they seek a spot in the semifinals of the competition.

Tusker FC are currently third on the table standings with 32 points from 19 matches while Leopards lie 13th on the log with 20 points, having won only one match in their last six league fixtures. 

``MATCH UPDATE

Our match against Tusker FC has been moved from Tuesday 22nd August 2017 to Thursday 24th August 2017,'' read the notification on Leopards' official website.

 

The countdown to this year’s  Mwamba RFC’s George Mwangi Kabeberi Memorial Sevens has officially kicked off  in earnest! This year’s edition will be held on  September 9-10 at the RFUEA Grounds, Ngong Road with tickets to this must-see event going on sale at later this week, with a dedicated alcohol-free area in a section of the stadium yet again providing value for families.

The George Mwangi Kabeberi Memorial Sevens, popularly known as the Kabeberi Sevens, was first played in 1986 to commemorate the passing away of the charismatic George Mwangi Kabeberi, one of the founding members of the Mwamba club. Over the years, the significance of the tournament has been expanded to honour departed club members, including recently departed Leeroy Okara, Absalom “Bimbo” Mutere, Abedeen Shikoyi, and Jimmy Owino and lately Victor Wayodi among others.

Ticket prices and their availability will be announced soon.

“Kabeberi Sevens  is regarded as one of the best sevens leg on the National Sevens Series  and we aim to improve the experience every year,” said the tournament director Anthony Karanja.

“Feedback we’ve received has indicated a strong need for a ‘family experience’ which is why we shall  block out a section of the stadium as an alcohol-free zone, with the Kiddies Village there to provide entertainment for the little ones during the day - free of charge. One section  will be the party stand again and we’re excited to see what fun ways fans will come up with to show their support for their teams and the other teams in action,” he added.

The start of the 2017 National Sevens Series was  pushed to September due to the just concluded Kenya General Elections. Consequently, the Driftwood Sevens, which was supposed to get the sevens season underway on 22nd/23rd  July will  be held on the weekend of 2nd/3rd September in Mombasa with the Kabeberi Sevens, originally set  for 29th /30th  July now taking place on 9th /10th  September in Nairobi.

 

Former Muhoroni Youth head coach Gilbert Selebwa was appointed as AFC Leopards' new team manager and is expected to commence his duties at the club from 1st September, 2017 as communicated by the club.

AC Milan striker Carlos Bacca has joined LaLiga side Villarreal on a season-long loan deal. This is Bacca's second stint in Spain after two successful season with Sevilla before signing for Milan in 2015. 

The Colombian international has been touted as a replacement for Roberto Soldado, who joined Fenerbahce last week. The 30-year-old has scored 165 goals in 336 games in his career, with 13 in 39 coming for Milan last season.

"The deal includes an option to buy the player once the campaign is finished," Villarreal said in a statement.

 

Paris Saint-Germain forward Jesse Rodriguez has completed his move to Stoke City on a season-long loan deal.

The former Real Madrid striker will now be with the Premier League club until July 2018 after finding playing time hard to come by at PSG, having featured in just nine matches for the Ligue 1 side and scored one goal.

"Jesse was a man in demand when PSG made it clear they would allow him to leave on loan and we’re delighted he has chosen to join us. He hasn’t had the happiest of periods in his career in Paris but he’s still only a young man and is hungry to make a big impression in the Premier League. His pedigree speaks for itself and he will most certainly add to the firepower at our disposal,” Stoke's Chief Executive  Tony Scholes told the club's official website.

Jesse becomes the sixth summer signing for the Potters subsequent to Darren Fletcher, Kurt Zouma, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Bruno Martins Indi and Josh Tymon joining the club.

 

The Champions League play-off matches resume on Tuesday August 15, 2017 with five matches expected to be played.

The first match will see FK Karabakh face Copenhagen from 19:00 local time, with Apoel Nicosia and Slavia Prague clashing from 21:45. Hoffenheim will play hosts to Liverpool while Sporting Lisbon entertain Steaua Bucharest at home. Below are the full fixtures:

Tuesday August 15th 

19:00- FK Karabakh vs Copenhagen

21:45- Apoel Nicosia vs Slavia Prague

21:45- Sporting Lisbon vs  Steaua Bucharest

21:45-  Hoffenheim vs Liverpool

21:45- BSC Young Boys vs CSKA Moscow

 

Real Madrid have become the first brand and sporting institution in the world to eclipse 100 million followers on Facebook, 50 million on Instagram and 25 million on Twitter for their main accounts. The total number of followers for the Real Madrid brand has hit 182 million across these three social media platforms, a figure unmatched by any other brand or sports club at this time. This number rises to more than 280 million fans if the total of the Football, Basketball and La Fábrica accounts are included.

Manchester United coach has given his word on the new signings and also gave a comment on whether Zlatan  Ibrahimovic would return to United.

“I just think he was very clear by showing what he did last year was not enough for him.”

“He wants more at football's highest level, so we are having conversations and we are discussing the possibility of him staying with us for the second part of the season.”

Mourniho exuded confidence in the new signings :

“I'm happy with the effort the club did, I'm happy that the club managed to do 75 per cent of the work before the Premier League starts,” he said.

“And if, until 31 August, the remaining 25 per cent don’t arrive, I will not moan. I will just go with everything I have to try to win every match we play.”

Arsenal midfielder Mesul Ozil has heaped praise on former Arsenal goalkeeper who joined the Club as part of the training team to assist Arsene Wenger.

“I think he’ll take us further through his (Jens Lehmann's) experience, through his personality. I think for the players, and especially for the goalkeepers, his experience and his personality [helps]. He was a player who would speak on the pitch when certain things weren’t going as he wanted. That’s why it’s good to have somebody like that around the team who gives their opinion.”

Manchester United youngster Tim Fosu Mensah has joined Crystal Palace on loan.

Manchester United prospect Tim Fosu-Mensah will spend the 2017/18 season on loan at Crystal Palace, working under the management of fellow Dutchman Frank de Boer.

The 19-year-old is highly regarded at Old Trafford following his recent ascent into the first-team squad, having graduated from the Academy to make his senior debut under Louis van Gaal in February 2016 before establishing himself as a valuable player to Jose Mourinho in 2016/17.

The manager was happy to sanction a new long-term contract for Fosu-Mensah last October and praised his desire to improve, telling us: “Tim is a young player with great potential. I am delighted at the progress he has made so far and it is clear to see that he is learning every day.”

In total so far, Tim has tallied 21 Reds appearances across all competitions and operated most commonly at right-back, but the talented Netherlands international has displayed his versatility by also performing admirably at centre-back and in central midfield.

After completing his loan move to Selhurst Park, Fosu-Mensah will be determined to enhance his education with the Eagles and will hope to feature in their top-flight opener against Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

Palace manager De Boer was in charge of the AFC Ajax youth team between 2007 and 2010, when Fosu-Mensah was climbing the ranks of their Academy before his move to United in 2014.

 

Barcelona will not sanction Neymar’s transfer to PSG until they receive the player’s €222m release clause.

Until then, the Brazilian will not be able to play for his new club.

Official sources within the Catalan club have confirmed to EFE that the bank has not yet received the €222m that PSG agreed to pay six days ago.

Until the money is in the Blaugrana’s bank account, Barça will not give the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) the green light to send Neymar’s international transfer certificate.

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The gambling industry is growing rapidly in Kenya. We could be competing with the West African nations. Since last year, the country has witnessed over 10 bookmakers join the industry with each contesting for a piece of the pie.

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.

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

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.

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.

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has landed 0.75 billion shillings from FIFA in a grant that is aimed to make the federation set up and manage their inhouse media activities.

Kenyanstar has learnt from sources privy to the deal that the world governing body has agreed to hand the Federation a grant of USD 7.5M to set up their own media production for the league matches.

The news coming barely weeks after Supersport suspended their broadcast deal with Kenyan Premier League (KPL) and later on laying off staff earlier on this week, will be welcome to the soccer industry.

FKF president has been in the news saying how FKF and the KPL would be produced in-house and availed for free to air (FTA) TV channels.

To reduce pressure in starting up, our sources say, FKF will absorb the staff that were working for Supersport to do the production and there is likelihood they may buy the studio Supersport had set up in Nairobi.

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? 

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”.

Tanzanian government have informed SportPesa Limited that they also want to see a Tanzanian team play against Everton on July 12 at the National Stadium. Gor Mahia are the ones with the opportunity after winning the SportPesa Super Cup finals.

Director of Sports Development in the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports Yusuph Singo confirmed that they have asked the betting firm to organize a friendly match between Everton and one of Tanzania's bigwigs.

``We have asked them (SportPesa) to organse a special friendly match between Yanga and Simba later this month,'' said Singo.

``If all goes well, the winner of the match will confront Everton at the National Stadium. I am sure many local soccer fans would like to see the English Premier League team face one of the top teams in the country,'' he added.

 

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.

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."

Work has been completed on the first proposed venue for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar - the Khalifa International Stadium. More than five years before the tournament kicks off, Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) has confirmed extensive renovations on the 40,000-seater venue are now finished.

The renovations include the installation of revolutionary cooling technology promised during Qatar's successful bid, which will keep the pitch at an optimum 26 degrees and the stands somewhere between 24 and 28 degrees.

SC secretary general H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi said: "The completion of our first stadium more than five years before the Qatar World Cup begins is an important milestone that reflects our determination to deliver a tournament the entire Arab world is proud to be a part of.

"As we promised in our bid, our innovative stadiums offer an unrivalled experience to fans and players alike. I'm proud we can show these off to the world and welcome fans with the hospitality this World Cup will be remembered for."

The stadium, originally constructed in 1976, will first host the 2017 Emir Cup final on Friday and will also be the venue for the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships.

Qatar Football Association (QFA) president Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani added: "Khalifa International Stadium is close to Qatari hearts and has seen some of Qatar's biggest sporting occasions over the years since it was first launched in 1976.

"It is therefore a fitting venue for the biggest match of Qatar's football calendar, the 2017 Emir Cup final between Al Rayyan and Al Sadd, and we look forward to welcoming fans into the magnificent remodelled stadium on Friday evening."

Former Tottenham striker Souleymane Coulibaly has accused the Egyptian club of treating him “like a slave” and “traumatising” his family.

Coulibaly joined Spurs in 2011 from Siena for £1.5m but failed to make any senior appearances.

He has played for Grossto, Bari Fc, Pistoiese, Peterborough United, Newport County and later Kilmarnock where he left in January to agree a three-and-a-half year deal with Al Alhy. He later returned to England without the club’s permission, prompting the Egyptian Premier League champions to lodge a complaint with FIFA.

The 22-year-old Ivorian has now claimed his actions were because of mistreatment while in Egypt, saying his family has been left “traumatised” by the experience.
Coulibaly added that Al Ahly had confiscated his passport which prompted him and his family to “flee” back to England at the first possible opportunity, and that he is willing to accept a ban from FIFA for his actions.

He said in a statement: “I’m not crazy, I left for a reason. I’m very sorry but I could not stay in that team anymore. My passport was held hostage. I was forced to do what I was told, for example bow down and pray every time I scored. I did not feel comfortable in the team and environment. I have tried my hardest for five months but I have reached my limit.

The team wasn’t welcoming. They never passed the ball so I had to fight and struggle in order to score. The coach forced me to play how he wanted me to play. I can’t play being forced to follow orders. If I didn’t obey the orders I was taken to the office and yelled at. My wife and kids are traumatised. My family is Christian and didn’t feel comfortable practicing their religion in the country.

I’ve been playing and working hard since I started without the right to a break. I left without saying because I had to flee the first chance I had a hold of my passport. They treated me like a slave all because of money. If FIFA are going to ban me I am willing and ready to accept the ban. My peace of mind and safety are what are most important to me.”

Al Ahly president Mahmoud Taher has since denied Coulibaly’s statement. Taher believes that Coulibaly’s accusation comes in response to Al Ahly’s complaint to FIFA and insists the club will not back down.

The club president’s statement read: “We deny all of Coulibaly’s allegations. What he claims never happened and he was never mistreated or abused by the club’s coach or players. Logically, if he was being abused he should have immediately spoken about this as soon as he left us, not after we filed a complaint to FIFA.

Al Ahly will not be blackmailed and will not back down until Coulibaly pays for what he did. This is a false accusation and a lie. He thinks that by saying this we will withdraw our complaint and back down but Al Ahly will not be blackmailed.”

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) have released fixtures for the 2018 African Nations Championships (CHAN) that is set to be held in Kenya in January.

CHAN is a football tournament which was first announced on 11 September 2007. It is administered by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and is played between the best national teams of Africa, exclusively featuring players who are active in the national championships and qualified to play in the ongoing season. Expatriate players, regardless of where they play, even in Africa, are not qualified to take part in the African Championship of Nations.

The first tournament was held in 2009. It was hosted by Ivory Coast and won by The Democratic Republic of the Congo. The competition was expanded to 16 teams for the second tournament, held in Sudan in 2011. The tournament was won by Tunisia, in the wake of the Tunisian Revolution. The tournament is held every two years, alternating with the Africa Cup of Nations.

The fixtures have been divided into four groups; West zone A, West Zone B, Central East Zone and Southern Zone. Teams in both West Zones will be playing in their second round of the qualifiers while those in Central East and Southern Zones will be competing in the first round.

In West Zone A, Sierra Leone face Senegal while Guinea clash with neighbours Guinea-Bissau on Saturday July 15, 2017 with the return matches expected to be played a fortnight later. 

In West Zone B, Togo will battle it out with Benin on Sunday July 16, 2017 with the return match a week later in Cotonou, Benin.

Four fixtures will be staged in Central East Zone with South Sudan lined up against Uganda, Tanzania with Rwanda and Djibouti with Ethiopia.

In Southern East Zone, Botswana host South Africa on Saturday 15 July while Zimbabwe visit Namibia a day later.

West Zone A

1.Sierra Leone vs Senegal -15.7.2017 (16:30,Freetown/Siaka Stevens Stadium)

  Senegal vs Sierra Leone-22.7.2017 (17:00,Dakar/Stade Demba Diop)

2.Guinea-Bissau vs Guinea-15.7.2017 (16:00,Bissau/Estadio 24 de Setembro)

  Guinea vs Guinea-Bissau-22.7.2017  (16:30,Conakry/Stade 28 Septembre)

3. Liberia vs Mauritania-16.7.2017 (16:00,Paynesville/Samuel Kayon Doe Sports Complex)

  Mauritania vs Liberia-23.7.2017 (17:00)

4.Gambia vs Mali-15.7.2017 (16:30,Bakau/Independence Stadium)

  Mali vs Gambia-22.7.2017 (17:00,Bamako/Stade Modibo Keita)

West Zone B

1.Togo vs Benin-16.7.2017 (15:00,Lomé/Stade de Kégué de Lomé)

  Benin vs Togo-23.7.2017 (16:00,Cotonou/Stade de l'Amitié de Kouhounou)

*Exempted  Burkina Faso, Côte D'Ivoire, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria

Central East Zone

1.South Sudan vs Uganda-14.7.2017 (16:30,/Juba stadum)

  Uganda vs South Sudan-22.7.2017 (16:00,Kampala/Phillip Omondi Stadium)

2.Tanzania vs Rwanda-15.7.2017 (16:00,Mwanza/CCM KIRUMBA Stadium)

  Rwanda vs Tanzania-22.7.2017 (15:30,Kigali/STADE REGIONAL DE NYAMIRAMBO)

3.Djibouti vs Ethiopia-15.7.2017 (15:00,Djibouti Ville/Stade Gouled)

   Ethiopia vs Djibouti-23.7.2017 (19:00,hawass/Hawass International Stadium)

4.Burundi vs Sudan-15.7.2017 (15:00,Bujumbura/Stade Prince Louis Rwagasore)

  Sudan vs Burundi-21.7.2017 (20:00,Khartoum/Khartoum Stadium)

Southern Zone

1.Madagascar vs Mozambique-16.7.2017 (14:30,Antananarivo/Stade Municipal de Mahamasina)

  Mozambique vs Madagascar-23.7.2017 (15:00,Maputo/Estadio Nacional do Zimpeto)

2.Maurice vs Angola-16.7.2017 (15:30,Belle Vue/Anjalay Stadium)

  Angola vs Maurice-23.7.2017 (16:30,Luanda/Estadio 11 de Novembro)

3.Comoros vs Lesotho-15.7.2017 (15:00,Moroni/Stade de Moroni)

  Lesotho vs Comoros-23.7.2017 (15:00,Maseru/Setsoto Stadium)

4.Namibia vs Zimbabwe-16.7.2017 (15:00,Windhoek/Sam Nujoma Stadium)

  Zimbabwe vs Namibia-23.7.2017 (15:00,Harare/National Sports Stadium)

5.Botswana vs South Africa-15.7.2017 (15:30,City of Francistown/Francistown Sports Complex Stadium)

  South Africa vs Botswana-22.7.2017 (15:00,Moruleng/Moruleng Stadium)

6.Swaziland vs Zambia-16.7.2017 (15:00,Lobamba/Somhlolo National Stadium)

  Zambia vs Swaziland-22.7.2017 (15:00,Lusaka/Heroes National Stadium)