George Bwana: The story of Kenya's top football agent

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.

His clients are big names in the football scene locally and in his own words, he is growing bigger by the day. A man must court a dose of controversy, and he too has, in several instances being accused of either embezzling club funds during his stint in football administration.

Kenyanstar sat down with former Gor Mahia Secretary General, George Bwana, for a no-holds barred interview, where he talks about his time at Gor Mahia, TV, player representation and personal life.

Kenyanstar: Who is George Bwana?

George Bwana: I am a 38 year-old Kenya citizen. Born and bred in Suba. Homabay County. I went to school in Mbita,a journalist by training and TV  producer. I started as a cameraman, rose to TV producer and ventured big into the TV world. I worked for various media organizations including The Nation Media Group for 9 years. In 2008 I quit Nation and went independent for about a year. I later joined Supersport for 2 years. In  2011 I quit Supersport. At Supersport  I  travelled the world and covered major sporting events, including the 2010 World Cup, the  2009 U-17 World Cup in Nigeria and the Confederation Cup in South Africa. I also  organized sporting events like the Copa Coca-Cola. I later quit TV, and in 2011 threw my hand in football politics,. I ran for General Secretary at Gor Mahia  and was elected.  I later served as the club’s General Secretary from 2011 to 2013. The election aborted in 2013 and had to repeat the following year. I left Gor Mahia  in 2013. Upon expiry of my term, I took a new challenge, and ventured into talent management; I started off with managing  footballers, then slowly into coaches as well i.e identify talent, find clubs, place them in clubs, negotiating contracts and managing their affairs.

KS: You were elected to Gor Mahia as SG, when you were a young, vibrant journalist. What informed your decision to switch from journalism to football administration?

GB: At that time, I felt our football wasn't being managed well. Having  worked for Supersport, I travelled the world to major sporting events as I have mentioned earlier, and I saw how football clubs, football events  and sports organisations were managed, and it pained me how things were done at home. There was a huge contrast.  I asked myself; Can’t this be done in Kenya?  I believe Kenya has a huge chunk of  sports talent, and thought we weren't properly harnessing this talent. So I made a decision to try and improve the standards of our football. Change how things were done. Gor Mahia is a household name in African football, having won the prestigious Mandela Cup in 1987 and that is not a mean fete by all standards. I felt there was huge gap to be filled. Not that we didn't have talent,  but talent wasn't being managed properly. So I quit my job and decided to throw myself into this elections. Lots of my friends told me it was a suicidal move, which I later on somewhat regretted, but today I don't regret because I left a mark.

KS: You had a largely successful tenure while Secretary General. Tell us about your time at Gor Mahia

GB: A very turbulent time. Very interesting too. Very memorable events. When I got elected in November  2011, interestingly, that was about the same time a lot was happening at Gor Mahia. Gor Mahia was having issues with the then coach Zedekiah "Zico" Otieno who was also the Harambee Stars coach and a cross section of Gor fans had an issue with that. Gor had a torrid 2011 season and a huge fanbase felt that the bad results were due to Zico’s double roles at the national team and at Gor. At the same time, Gor had a contract with Zico which we had to respect. So I had lots of balancing to do - A newly elected SG of a big club and the tasks were here. First challenge was to deal with that disquiet. Then the transfer window was approaching. So we dealt with the Zico issue, the best way we thought; by asking him to step aside. Then did what hadn't been done before- asking coaches to apply for appointment.

We received volumes of applications from Kenya and beyond and eventually ended up picking Anaba Awono, who then was the assistant coach. When the season started we recruited heavily by signing a record 11 players and sent a few away. Then came the season. We won our first game in 2012.  From that point on, we lost games, drew games and at one point, Gor was  lying 13th on the log after about 8 matches or so. I remember Ambrose Rachier asking me- George will Gor be relegated under our watch? So it was a very shocking moment for me; I am new in office, a youthful leader, fans are screaming game after game, huge expectations…

You know the year before that, I had been involved in a huge campaign to bring back fans, and I believe largely that is why I got elected because we were beginning to get lots of young fans who wanted a young vibrant leadership at their club,. So here I was, elected by the fans  and we are losing. The same  fans are giving me pressure. I remember we made lots of trips to Nairobi- Nakuru Highway and lost to Oserian, Ulinzi and many other places.  Out of 3 matches on the Nairobi- Nakuru highway, we only got a point and got to a place where we had to make a decision. I remember fans screaming in my ears, telling me to act. They were very patient. I approached the chairman and told him it was time to make a decision.

Photo/ courtesy: Bwana poses with titles at a past KPL award ceremony

We dismissed the entire technical bench  after 8 rounds when we were lying 13th or so.We brought in Zdravko Logarusic. It was my initiative. The office was divided about that, but as SG, fans were looking at me. The dismissal of the bench was a big litmus test. Before Zdravko arrived, we made a decision to have someone handle the team. We decided to find someone to handle that one game before the new coach arrived. So we picked on one legend of the club to try pick the pieces. We made a call to Bobby Ogolla who then was retired and enjoying life in Muhoroni. I called him and he declined. I insisted to him that he was the best person to do the job. He said that having handled Gor before, he didn't want to come back. After rounds of persuasion, he agreed to come on condition that he would handle only one  match. We lost.

Logarusic  arrived the next day, and I took him straight to City stadium for training. Zdravko asked me what the issue was, and I told him I didn't know, since I wasn't the coach. He asked how many players we had and I told him 31. The number one thing Logarusic said was -you have a bloated squad. So he fired players and some fired themselves. I remember Collins Okoth just opting out after one training session with Loga. He just left the club and went. After few training sessions, Loga said we scale down to 25, and he identified players for axing.

We dealt with them in accordance to the law and trimmed the squad to 25, and we began training and picking points. The league title would soon be at reach. Recall, before then AFC Leopards was 13 or 14 points above us. We overtook them. Then came the shocker. On the last day of the season, 2 points adrift Tusker. We were playing Thika United at City Stadium. It was a very memorable moment. There was an air of optimism through the country. The nation was painted white and green. Then came the famous Giniwasekao. The match  at City Stadium was at 3PM. Tusker were playing City stars in Kawangware. We only needed to win our match and win the title regardless of what happened elsewhere.

We had a superior goal difference. Tusker win and we drew. I remember that Kennedy Otieno goal. Then Rama equalised, but it was too little too late. Gor fans cried, I cried and I believe Raila Odinga cried. We couldn't believe it. That was one of my most memorable moments for me in Gor. There are many challenges that came with managing the club. It is a job that doesn't pay. People think that it does. It is a voluntary work. It takes a lot of determination and time. Gor is like any other corporate with staff, challenges, but there are no set structures and you don't earn anything. It takes a lot of self determination and willpower to run the club.That goes for other community clubs too like AFC Leopards.

KS: During your time, the club did well and won titles. What was working for you?

GB: I think was successful because first in 2012, after we missed the league, in 2013 we said we would not repeat the mistakes we did. In 2013 we started the league well, recruited well and won the title with 5 matches to spare. Logarusic again along the way in 2013, did everything right, but when it was time to pop the champagne, he messed things up and quit the club halfway in June 2013 prompting us to bring in Bobby Williamson and we won the league easy. I call it successful because Gor hadn't won the league in 18 years. The most decorated club in Kenya and East Africa going 18 years without a tile? That was unacceptable. I pride myself as having won the title for the Mighty K’ogalo after 18 years. From that momentum, we won it in 3 straight years. In 2015, we went unbeaten because  of the momentum and structures I put in place. To date I believe it still there. People still remember my tenure.

KS: You won titles at your time. However, as many critics say to date, there is no much progress. The club is still reliant on Ambrose Rachier, and is still in debt. Do you think you helped the club long-term?

GB: That is true. In my opinion as a fan, I think that winning the league isn't enough. I don't celebrate winning the KPL title anymore. We have won it 3 straight times, what is there to win here? I believe Gor now need to go and make a mark at the continental scene. On structures, we have done quite something because if you remember where Gor was before Ambrose Rachier came on board, Gor was lying somewhere there. He has done quite a lot and that should not go unnoticed. I still think we still need to do more. One, we need to change the club’s constitution. The club doesn't need 11 elected officials, that to me is a major setback because you end up with too many squabbles, as everyone is trying to get a piece of the club.

Gor doesn't need elected officials. I am glad we have the sports act which I believe the current office is trying to comply with, and in complying with that the structures should come in place. Gor needs to establish itself as a corporate run by professionals, not elected officials. That way we can hold the management accountable. Today as things stand, if you ask the current Secretary General  why certain things aren't done in a certain way, he might ask you - What are you giving me in return?  It is a voluntary job and there is nothing binding the official with the club. I also want to appeal to our fans. The fans have been a hindrance to this process of change. There is a section of them who are hellbent on  maintaining  the status quo because that is how they survive. Some people are afraid that if we change structures of the club, they will lose control of the club.

I recall in 2005, the chairman then, Lesley Okudo tried registering Gor Mahia  as a company. He received massive resistance from a section of the fans, to a point that he quit. Okudo was fantastic chairman, but was hounded out of office as result of his efforts to professionalise the club. I wish to reiterate that a cross section of our fan-base are a major hindrance to the development of the club, not all of them. They need to understand that things need to be done the modern way. Gor was established in 1968 by the then Minister of Planning Tom Mboya, and it was fine to have 11 officials to take care of the various sub clans of the Luo Community. Today Gor isn't just a Luo club, the club has fans from all over Kenya.

Photo/couretsy: George Bwana and Danny Sserenkuma during his says as Gor Mahia SG

KS: During your tenure, in several occasions when the club faced hooliganism cases, you publicly defended the club and famously said, ‘Those were goons in Gor Mahia jerseys.’ Many feel you never wanted to deal with hooliganism head on. What’s your response to this?

GB: To date I still hold the same opinion. In 2012-2013 before the elections and you know politicians love where there are numbers, and Gor itself is loved and hated in equal measure in this country. A cross section of politicians, with the elections coming up and with Gor being associated with one section of the political divide, some politicians would hire goons, don them in Gor Mahia jerseys and send them to cause trouble. Second, a Gor Mahia fan is not someone who would want to see his club suffer. A fan is someone who will protect the club with his soul. When in 2012 in that evening game at Kasarani(one of my memorable moments), Danny and Rama had taken off for trials without permission. Before that match, I called Logarusic and found out that two of our players were missing from training. The players also had their phones going unanswered. So we drew against City Stars 0-0. As usual, I never shied away from addressing the fans after the game when they sought to know what the matter was. Why we lost. They asked where Rama and Danny were. I told them that they had sneaked out of camp for trials. So the fans were agitated by that, and as I tried to explain myself, leaning on my car, then some goons confronted me and started getting their hands into my pocket. So I had to take off. (Hearty laugh) I ran for my dear life. The next day I addressed the press and said that indeed the scenes witnessed at Kasarani were those in my opinion occasioned by goons, not Gor Mahia fans. Genuine Gor fans are very disciplined and understanding. Look at Gor last season: Gor should have won the league. But the club was docked points because of fan trouble. Do you think a Gor fan would want his club to lose points and the league in that way?

KS: Hooliganism has been a major issue in Kenyan football. What particular steps did you take at your time to deal with this matter?

GB: Hooliganism is a  major issue not to Gor alone but Kenyan  football. During our tenure, we empowered our fans and created awareness. No amount of police can stop hooligans if you don't involve fans. At Gor, we have branches and would call branch leadership and pass messages to them on stadia safety and anti-hooliganism measures. We also employed the youth, from the fans as club marshals. We paid them 2000 shillings  per home game. Their work was to to help in crowd control. We also worked with other teams to help in crowd control.

KS: Another famous  highlight during your tenure was the Zdravko Logarusic saga. How good was he, and why did you later bite the bullet and decline to work with him, despite his good run in the league?

GB: Logarusic is  good coach, and a great friend. We established a working relationship that was way beyond just work.  We became friends and brothers. But Loga is interesting. In 2013, half way through the season, he came up with fresh demands on remuneration. We had a sponsor who was giving us 11m a year and the club wage bill was way beyond that. So when Loga came up with fresh demands we said, ‘let's review his salary putting in mind what he had achieved.’ But we had to strike a balance. We had a chat with Loga and gave him our offer, but he couldn't accept it . I then explained to him that despite our friendship,we couldn't continue and hence we had to let him go.

KS: Was it a good decision to let him go?

GB: It was. First, we had to act in the best interest of the club and also Gor is bigger than the club.No one can hold the club at ransom.

KS: You served as Secretary General  for a single term. Surprisingly so. You said that you had achieved your objectives. What was your biggest achievement as Secretary General?

GB: My objective was to ensure Gor gets back to where it deserves to be in Kenyan football. Second, it was to put Gor on the right path to achieve success in continental football.
 
KS: Would you consider at one time returning to serve Gor Mahia?

GB: Gor remains my club forever. For now I am engaged in personal business.However ,in future when that opportunity comes I will be available to serve the club, but it has to be at the right time. I still believe I have something to offer Gor Mahia.

KS: Your toughest time at Gor, besides the infamous sprint?

GB: When we lost the league on final day. I couldn't bear that and suffered personal consequences. It took its toll on me, even my family suffered emotional distress. The sprint wasn't even a thing, it was some of those moments. I even realized that some of the guys chasing me were even unfit because they couldn't catch up with me.(Laughs). There were several others, where you would do things in the best interest of the club but people would think that you were making so much from the club. I recall at one time I was having a drink after a Gor Mahia match at Nyayo Stadium. I was having a drunk with this guy. Then he tells me: “This Gor Mahia officials are making so much money.”

 I asked him "What do you mean?"

Then he tells me, “There is this Gor Secretary General, he has built a massive house in South C, and has big car.”

 I asked him, "What is his name again?"

He replied, “George Bwana. He has  a lot of money.”

I  asked him - Do you know how he looks like? He said, “He is a young guy.”

I then told him, "What if I told you my name if George Bwana?"

He was really shocked and apologized and said he had just been told the story.(Hearty laugh)

KS: We have a new office at Gor Mahia. 100 and so days in. Lots of teething problems here and there. You take on the new administration?

GB: As you have put it, they are going through some teething problems and honeymoon. I however, hold that they have overstretched the honeymoon. Its expected that upon resuming office those challenges are there. But there is a limit. I am particularly disgusted by a couple of things I saw like how some like  publishing club matters on social media. You do not see clubs talk about their matters on social media anywhere in the world. It amounts to subjecting the club to public ridicule. Like an official would post minutes of a meeting on social media. That is unacceptable. To me that is immaturity and should stop. However, they still have time to recover but they got to do things differently. Sober up and do things differently. We had similar issues when we were elected but theirs looks a little too magnified. They have got to start working and forget about elections.

KS: You are a key member of the Kenyan football industry;Kenya’s top football agent. How did you get into this trade and what motivated you to get into it?

GB: I am a journalist by training. I quit my job and got into football politics which is a very thankless job. Not paying. I served for about 3 years and upon expiry of my term I had lost quite a bit in terms of personal growth. I decided not to count those 3 years as a wate. I decided to turn my experience into business. I believe in shifting and doesn't believe in complaining about misfortunes. I decided to read about talent management, I did a course at Strathmore University, while still at Gor Mahia, that was being offered in collaboration with KPL and that helped me set up  a business which I run today. One of managing talent. Started with footballers, then coaches and trying to get into other sports as well…

Photo: George Bwana(left) and George Owino during transfer to Zesco

KS:You have had majority of your transfers in Zambia. Why Zambia?

GB: The Zambian league is well organized and well structured. Zambian clubs respect player contracts. Zambian clubs are well sponsored, they pay players well, and take good care of players and coaches. Zambian clubs like to give back to communities where they do business. I made one first move with David Owino in 2013 and it worked well. I got feedback from the player, he was happy and followed on his progress and was impressed. For me, when the player is happy, I am glad., I work first for the player and coach. As  a result of Owino’s good show, he opened up doors for other Kenyan players.

KS: Any challenges in this business?

GB: First, the perception that we make so much money. There is no big money really. We work for the players first. We are coming from an amateur league -KPL and if I make a call to a club in Serbia or Croatia, after watching the player and doing research on the club and when they hear about Kenya, they turn us down. They say Kenya is a nation for runners.  Our football isn't doing really well, and we struggle to convince people that Kenya has talent.

I am glad we have Victor Wanyama out there because I use him a lot as a reference point when looking for clubs for my players. Some people ask me; Where is Kenya? Is it from Nigeria? I explain to them where Kenya is and tell them -Kenya is the country where Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Victor Wanyama comes from. Do you know him? The reply -yeah yeah. I then say - The player I am proposing to you plays together with Victor Wanyama at the national team. So our ranking too is still low and does not help us. We need to do better.

KS: Your best business so far?

GB: (Laughs) That is a hard one. I think my best transfer businesses are two, to be very honest. The first one is that of David Owino because he was the first player I ever sold out of this country and the first to play in Zambia and he opened the doors for many players. The second is Jesse Were. He is scoring  lots of goals in Zambia and was the top scorer in the Champions League in Zambia and second highest scorer in the league. That lifted my profile because I got calls from North Africa, West Africa and Europe too showing interest in Jesse Were. Today I am largely known as an agent by people who would largely never have known me because of this players.

KS: What qualifies one to be a football agent?

GB: First it is interest. Secondly, the Football Federation has introduced laws that we have complied with, not fully, but we are in the process of complying and are in good books with them. So you need to be qualified. FIFA has also given mandate to individual federations who license you and once you meet the criteria and  they forward your name to FIFA.

KS: Majority of the Kenyan football agents, maybe middlemen, are not registered. This has been a concern. Does it concern you too?

GB: It is. A big concern. The Federation must have a list of agents. If anyone wants to be an agent, they must follow due process and be in the Federation records. I see a lot of my friends mostly in the media, purporting to be middlemen. Well, it is  a good thing, we need our players to be in clubs. It is a virgin industry but let them do the right thing and get registered.

KS: Agents have been accused of using players, taking them to ‘any willing club’ making money and dumping the players. Have you encountered this and is it concern to you?

GB: Personally I don't do that. First, none of my players has ever gone to a  country without me accompanying them. I usually accompany them to the clubs after having agreed preliminary terms. We physically travel with them to that respective country, review the contract myself together with  the player to ensure everything that was agreed is in the contract then the player appends his signature.

KS: Do you think most  players in Kenya have been abused by these middlemen?

GB:  It's true. Some middlemen, not all are unscrupulous and very dodgy. What I want to advise players; For a long time, players thought that an agent is someone who just wants to earn where they did not sow. That shouldn't be the case. A good middleman acts in the best interest of the player. That is what I do. There are guys who swindle players not only in Kenya but outside Kenya too. So yes, there are funny guys purporting to be player representatives, but with ill intentions and so players must also do due diligence on whoever they sign with this agreements.

KS: What makes you tick as an agent?

GB: (Laughs)  I don't know whether I tick. I am just a go-getter and a risk-taker. I believe nothing is impossible. I am a believer in Christ, and go out there to get things done.

KS: Kenyan football agents have been accused of ill-advising players. At times, making it difficult for Kenyan players to make moves across clubs in Kenya. Your response?

GB: Football agents don't make anything impossible. Clubs in Kenya must understand that football agents exist. Player representation is a new concept in Kenya. I think there is  a misunderstanding in Kenya  on who football representatives are. These guys have a job to do, and bills to pay. Kenyan clubs don't understand why they would sign a player for a certain amount. I am shocked and saddened in equal measure on the amounts we talks about when signing a player and clubs feels it's too much for them. It is really nothing. Yanga or Simba in Tanzania will buy  a player for Ksh.5  millions easily. Kenyan clubs will struggle to buy a player for Ksh. 600,000. How many Kenya clubs even pay each other money for transfers? Only Gor perhaps has bought a player. Like during my tenure we paid money for Baba Kizito. Clubs must begin to spend on players. It’s a business. Transfer monies, besides the salary is what players use to improve their lives. Clubs must know that football representation is not extortion but a business.

Photo credit, Soka: (From left) Jesse Were, Teddy Akumu and David with Bwana during a Harambee Stars assignment


KS: A concern raised by Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier is that Kenyan players and agents insist on signing short contracts hence destabilizing the clubs and players. Your response?

GB: That is wrong and I strongly agree with Rachier. First, there are certain parameters you look at when signing a player. First, it's the age of the player. There is no reason why I should bring a 19 year old and insist on signing a one year contract. I am reaping off this club and I also am not helping the player. There is no guarantee that a young player will hit form straight away. There are very many challenges and the pressure is too much. If the player is on a short contract, he will struggle to get form. And before he settles, his contract is out. Signing short contracts does not help players. Some players also love signing short contracts so that every often they are getting paid sign on fees every often. Players must also put in mind their personal growth and know that you need time to settle in a club. I know players also fear that if you sign along contract then a club from abroad comes and wants to sign you, then your club will decline to release you. I keep telling player to insert those clauses in the contract and that is what I do for my players - If a club wants t sign you, then they shall pay a certain amount to your club. A serious club that wants to sign you will pay you and your club the monies being asked for.

KS: How do you spot players? Do they approach you or you go out looking for them?

GB: Mostly I approach them. I watch lots of football myself, both the premier league and youth football. So I spot the players. Some call me and approach me for representation and I have to do some background checks to see if it's worth the business. Not every other player is worth the business.

KS: Does you talent management program include image rights management and has any of your clients made money out of it?

GB: In the contracts we insist on a percentage for image rights. We always insist on that. So far, we haven't had an instance where we have been approached.  We try go out there to do this. Zambia is our biggest zone so to speak and we are trying to set up a place there. It would be needless for a Zambian League player to endorse a Kenyan product. We have been thinking of partnering with certain people to work on this.

KS: We have seen a couple of players, some of them your clients not excelling in the PSL despite being good players. Why?

GB: I don't think its a question of Kenyan players. Musa Otieno, the most decorated Kenyan player played in the PSL for over a decade, and even won the chairman's trophy. I think it's a question of attitude. Secondly some clubs, to be fair to our players, mistreat some players. We have had incidences with several players, most recently Clifton Miheso. The same was the case with Khalid Aucho. It's true some PSL clubs don't treat foreigners well. Attitude is also important for the player. They should know that when playing outside Kenya, you are playing with  people who aren't from your native country. So they(Players) must have psychological preparedness for them to succeed.

KS: Rumours have it that you are coach Stewart Hall’s agent…

GB: No rumour. It is true. I am his representative and I brought him to Kenya.

KS: In recent days, you have been accused of destabilizing AFC Leopards by trying to move Hall to another club. How true is this?

GB: I am a football agent and as such, when I place a player or coach somewhere, I want them to succeed because when they do I make a name for myself and stand a chance of renewing a contract or getting him to another club. I don't think any business,and want his salt would want to antagonize himself. I brought Stewart Hall to AFC Leopards late last year and he is on a 2 year contract and want him to succeed at Leopards. While i was away in Zambia, I read the reports on the press that I was trying to destabilize Leopards .The truth is I got inquiries for Stewart Hall from a Tanzania club. That is very true. The contract that we have with AFC Leopards for Stewart Hall is such that, there is an exit clause. That goes for every contract. When that club made inquiries, I explained to them that they shouldn't talk to the coach because he has a contract and a job to do.  Having had a good start, I told Hall that we wouldn't wish to antagonize his stay at Leopards. The coach will stay because he has a contract with AFC Leopards. However, if whoever wants Hall can meet the release clauses that are agreeable to the AFC management, then we will deal. For now, Stewart Hall is an AFC Leopards coach. He has interests not just from Tanzanian clubs, but also outside Tanzania. There are several other inquiries. Stewart is a big coach.

KS: You have been at Supersport before. Your take on the current TV saga?

GB: Very unfortunate. It is sad that we should get into a situation like we have. Our football has made tremendous achievements over the past ten or so years. We still need to do more. I am disappointed that the people mandated with the affairs of our football have gotten us into this situation where broadcast right holders are withdrawing.Many countries would wish to have a broadcast partner. I am hugely disappointed that this has happened. I urge them to sober up as gentlemen, come to a table and talk about this, I am willing to bring them on board because I can. One of the major players in this stalemate is my former chairman who is the chair of KPL and the other is a good friend of mine and  a young guy who can understand my language and Supersport themselves. I am a TV  professional and Supersport are my former employers. I credit them for what I am today. So I believe this can be sorted out. Supersport has put in a huge investment in that facility at Ngong Road, I was part of it. I don't think it will be fair to have that go to waste. As  a football stakeholder, we need TV because that is how I can sell these players - From the clips. If Supersport pulls out, our games will be played minus coverage. We need to sober up. I know people are fighting over egos and small things but I am sure these things can be sorted out.

KS: Thanks so much George for your time!

In the run up to 2016 Gor Mahia elections, someone shared with me that Luo politicians were afraid to fund candidates opposed to the incumbent AmbroseRachier. Their main fear was to go against the Luo political kingpin and Gor Mahia patron, RailaOdinga who was behind Rachier. This meant that an economically endowed Rachier was up against candidates with lean financial muscle, he won.

On 29th June 2013, AFC Leopards’ went to the polls at Kasarani. Businessman Alan Kasavuli was elected Chairman and Nairobi politician George Aladwa won the Secretary General seat. The election was peaceful but the intrigues that preceded it were typical of elections in the two clubs with biggest following, Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards.

The results were expected because Aladwa was emerging as the leading Luhya politician in Nairobi and Leopards’ is typically a Luhya club. He had lost the Makadara parliamentary elections in March of that year so here is a man of limited education looking for soft landing. In February was the Mayor of Nairobi and by June was a citizen. I often bumped into Aladwa with a host of hangers on in the streets of Nairobi. Kasavuli beat financial expert Dr. Walter Onyino.

After the elections I saw Aladwa in the streets with an Ingwe fan I knew. I approached him and proposed to him that I had a wonderful idea I wanted to share with him. He quickly noted that I knew one of his aides and asked him to organize a meeting later for us to discuss it in detail; I am still following up to meet Aladwa to date. That is not the reason for writing this; my take is that Kenyan politics is behind the underdevelopment of Kenyan clubs, unfortunately the solution lies with our politicians.

I can share what I wanted to share with Aladwa now that he is back swimming in his waters of Makadara parliamentary elections. I first met Georgie, as Aladwa is known, in Makongeni area back in my days as a political activist and noted his mobilization skills. To rise from a school dropout, to a tout and end up as Mayor is no mean feat. I knew if I sold to him the idea that he can rise to the Luhya kingpin position through Ingwe, he will buy into the idea. He only needed to let Kasavuli the businessman run the day to day matters of the club then he does what he does best, mobilize Luhyas into club structures.

I knew his heart was elsewhere, he was just cooling his heels in Ingwe to remain in the limelight. This was going to be a win-win situation. He just needed to set up Ingwe branches in every constituency and determine the officials. Once that was set, he would return to Nairobi and sit pretty knowing that he had point men from Nairobi down to the villages in Western Kenya. These branches then had to submit annual subscription to Ingwe which would lead to the club having a steady stream of cash. Aladwa would then walk out at the right time with a network across the Luhya nation, which never happened.

Today, Leopards are in the same position with Gor Mahia. That place where a Tanzanian TFF official was heard saying about Gor during the 2015 Kagame Cup in Daresalaam; these are just noisemakers without money. The problem never seems to go even with a change of guard. Currently Daniel Mule is the chairman of Ingwe while Lawyer Ambrose Rachier is at K’ogallo elected in June and December last year respectively. 

Romours have it that Ambrose Rachier paid for the ODM ticket for Gem parliamentary seat but lost it to Raila’s cousin Jakoyo Midiwo. So Raila always has a political debt he owes Rachier which Gor Mahia unknowingly picks the tab. Rachier is the A to Z at Gor Mahia, the other officials are flower girls (and page boys). When the club is stuck and money is required, Rachier foots the bill only to pocket the gate collections without consulting anyone. No one will know how much was raised because no one knows the amount of money he chipped into the club the last time cash was needed. That is how he justifies his position at the club and fans, including progressive Luos have bought into it. Meanwhile the club is run from his Mayfair Court offices at Ralph Bunche Road even when the decoy office was open at Nyayo Stadium.

Until Sportpesa came along, both clubs were struggling financially. The money Sportpesa pays seems to have taken the officials back to comfort zone.To date, both clubs do not have operational offices or official merchandise vendors.  Even the CAF Club Licensing rules could not bring out the best of the two giants. Like the rest of the clubs, FKF looked the other way on many requirements. Meanwhile, the online pages of the two clubs are as active like bee hives. The problem is no honey flows from the fans to the clubs.

It is difficult to separate the Luo and Luhya politics from Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards’ respectively. This means that the only hope these clubs have lies in the networks and influence the politicians from the two communities have over their people. The problem is our politicians are selfish and myopic. Somehow when the clubs stretch out begging bowls once in a while, the politicians reach out to their pockets to massage their egos and feel relevant and not to help the clubs become self-sustaining. 

In our tribal based politics, the best place Luos and Luhyas can show this country that they are fit to lead is in football. The biggest irony of our times is that Kenyan football is dominated by the two communities yet they don’t call the shots where it matters. Even in areas where they enjoy near monopoly dominance, other communities including foreigners call the shots. Politics is diminishing the stature of our two big clubs but in there lies a way out as well. It boils down to more leadership and less ujuaji. Mutajua Hamujui!

@stuttistician

 

Gor Mahia coach Marcelo `Ze Maria’ Ferreira has criticized Thika United for their time wasting tactics in the second half of their match which ended in a 1-1 draw on Sunday 21 May at the Stadium.  Thika were leading for a better part of the game until the final minutes when Godfrey Walusimbi earned a point for Ko’galo with a sublime free kick.


In Ze Maria’s view, Thika United wasted a lot of time in the second half and he felt that the referee should have added more than five minutes at the end of the match. ``I feel that the referee should have added more than just five minutes at the end of regular time. Thika were always on the ground during the second half. They didn’t play at all, just wasting time. I think we played only 35 minutes in the second half.’’


Ze Maria also believed that his team should have killed the match in the first half but his strikers were unlucky to get a goal. ``We created many chances and should have won the match in the first half, but the strikers were not lucky.’’


Gor Mahia are at the summit of the table standings with twenty six points, two more than second-placed Ulinzi Stars. They have so far won eight, drawn and lost two apiece in the twelve matches that they have played.

I am averse to betting for personal reasons but I will confess that the recent Ksh. 221 million jackpot win almost made me reconsider my stand. Kenyans have taken up betting like fish into water which has led to overnight growth of betting firms like Sportpesa. This has also attracted other global players in the industry into the local market. Betting has its negative effects which ended up in parliament. Even before parliament passed the bill, the government proposed severe tax measures beginning next financial year.

The government recently announced plans to tax 50% of betting firms gross profit and a further 30% on net profit. It can never get worse than this for any industry. The truth is, betting firms cannot survive these measures after enjoying great profits in the past. Sportpesa- the biggest player in the local industry – has reacted by threatening to withdraw sponsorship to football, boxing and rugby outfits. Is this sabotage or a genuine distress call?

Amidst all this, Sportpesa was reported to have signed a shirt sponsorship deal with EPL side Everton worth Ksh. 3 billion. This could have been prompted by the relegation of Hull City FC who have athree year deal worth about Ksh. 400 million with Sportpesa. The cry from local fans has been that Sportpesa makes the bulk of its money locally, gives local clubs peanuts but rewards foreign clubs well.

Recently Sportpesa spread across the border into Tanzania where they got into partnerships with local sports outfits. They are renovating the artificial turf in a local stadium while they are now the shirt sponsors of local football giants Yanga and Simba. I waited for the details of the two deals to shed light on the cry of KPL fans but it did not yield any juice for this article.

Sportpesa is giving Simba and Yanga about TSh. 5 billion each which is in the tune of Ksh. 250 million over five years. This is in the range of what Gor Mahia receives though slightly higher than what AFC Leopards earns which is Ksh. 225 million over a similar period. May be the outcry from local fans pushed them to set their ceiling around the amounts they have with Kenyan clubs. 

Sponsorship is not charity. A firm goes into a sponsorship or branding deal with a football club for purposes of brand visibility. Sportpesa is going to get more visibility in Tanzania through the two local clubs than they are getting in Kenya. Tanzanians love their football and they show up for matches in big numbers. The league is also well featured in the local press. Tanzania Breweries Limited the shirt sponsor of the two clubs pulled out of football after it changed hands which meant Sportpesa got the two giants in financial straits. This could be the reason why they may have given in to not so good deals.

Kenyans should build the brand equity of local football in general but most important KPL clubs in particular. Sportpesa will only pay what the brand they are partnering with is worth. There is a big difference between their deal with Everton and what they signed with Hull City yet both clubs played in EPL. If brand equity is a measure of sponsorship then Sportpesa has been good to Kenyan football, especially clubs. Look at their perks for Kenya Rugby Union, Ksh. 607 million over five years and purported Ksh. 360 million over four and a half years as KPL title sponsors.

The term ‘purported’ comes before the KPL deal because unlike KRU, KPL did not reveal the actual value of their deal. That is a big pointer of where brand equity tilts; Kenyan rugby is a better brand than football despite having fewer followers. To attract more funds, clubs must package themselves as institutions worth of any amount they feel they are worth. People do not buy products or brands; they buy emotions associated with them. We must make our clubs and league attractive.

As Sportpesa and other betting firms prepare to fight it out with the government over the new tax regime, clubs must prepare for any eventuality. If the government’s stands its ground, Sportpesa is justified in transferring about Ksh. 400 million annual budget for local sports institutions into part of the tax that the government collects. Only two things are certain in life, taxes and death. Either way, we must play football.

@stuttistics

AFC Leopards head coach Stewart Hall blamed his side’s missed chances in their 1-0 defeat to Kakamega Homeboyz on Saturday 20 May. A solitary goal by former Leopards striker Mohammed Dialo was enough to condemn Hall’s charges to their fifth loss of the season.


The loss also took Ingwe’s winless streak to six matches, one of the worst runs from any team this season. Speaking after the match, Hall said that his side did not deserve to lose and blamed it on the numerous goal-scoring chances that were missed.


``We played well, but as usual, we missed many scoring chances. We deserved to have scored at least a goal, maybe more. We did not deserve to lose.’’
Leopards had started the season remarkably, winning four of their first six league fixtures and were widely seen as this year’s title competitors. A dip in form has however seen Stewart Hall linked with an exit from the club, with numerous clubs said to be interested in the former Azam tactician. Ingwe are currently 11th on the log with fifteen points from twelve matches.

Nzoia United coach Bernard Mwalala was elated that his boys finally got a much-needed win after thrashing Muhoroni Youth 3-0 on Saturday 20 May.

 

The win comes a week after the coach had lamented on his side’s 1-0 loss to Gor Mahia, alleging that they had lost unfairly to the league leaders. ``Against Gor Mahia we lost unfairly and the players were very disheartened by that, which is why I am very happy that they won this time.’’

 

Mwalala also praised his team’s overall performance in their match against Muhoroni, particularly the strikers who he termed as exceptional. ``Every department played according to instructions and the strikers were exceptional.

 

Although he was satisfied by the number of goals that they scored, he noted that they had the chance and capability to score even more goals. ``I think we could easily have scored five goals but the 3-0 result is still satisfactory.’’

 

Nzoia United are currently in 9th position after gathering sixteen points from twelve matches and their next match is against Sofapaka.

 

Mathare United coach Francis Kimanzi had mixed reactions after seeing his side fall 2-0 to Tusker on Saturday 20 May. Although he expressed his frustration from losing three consecutive matches, he believed that they created a number of chances but it was just not their day.

 

``This is the third consecutive loss and it is not good at all. The players created chances…It was just not our day,’’ said the former Tusker tactician.

 

Mathare United have actually lost four matches in a row and have only registered two wins in the twelve matches they have played since the start of the season. They sit 17th on the table with nine points, one place above the last position of the league.

 

 

 

Tusker FC coach George Nsimbe has appreciated his players’ efforts and commitment in their recent games, which has seen them rise rapidly in the table standings of the Kenyan Premier League. The Brewers started this season unexpectedly, losing two of their first league matches including a 5-2 thumping by new boys Nzoia United.


They however picked up from there and have not lost a match since, winning all six of their last matches. They have also moved from the bottom positions to 3rd in the table, locked on points with second place Ulinzi Stars and two adrift of leaders Gor Mahia.


``We are in a good place right now. The players have been very dedicated and the results are there to be seen. We kept a clean sheet today…Good,’’ said Nsimbe after their 2-0 win against Mathare United. Up next for them is a match against a struggling AFC Leopards side, who have not won six matches.

Posta Rangers tasted defeat for the first time this season after going down 1-0 in the hands of Ulinzi Stars on Saturday 20 May. Rangers coach Sammy `Pamzo’ Omollo was however not fazed at all by the defeat, saying that he knew that their unbeaten run would obviously come to an end along the road.


``I don’t know why people are surprised (by Ulinzi’s 1-0 loss). I knew that our unbeaten run would come to an end at one point this season.’’


Pamzo however chose to dwell on the positives from the match and look forward to their next assignment, which is a game against league leaders Gor Mahia.


``It has happened but it is not the end of the road. Infact, the defeat may be a blessing in disguise because it has exposed our weaknesses and mistakes, which we will work on before we meet Gor Mahia in our next match.”
Rangers weekend’s loss means that they have now gone three matches without a win, having drawn two matches prior to the defeat. They are currently in 4th position in the league table with twenty three points.

Porto coach Nuno Espirito Santo has left the club by mutual consent after one season in charge in which they finished runners-up, the former European champions said on Monday.

Usually known simply as Nuno, the Sao Tome and Principe-born coach was halfway through his contract when he departed one day after his team suffered a shock 3-1 defeat at Moreirense in their last league game of the season.

Porto finished second in the league, six points behind champions and arch-rivals Benfica. They kept up the chase for most of the season until their challenge faltered with home draws against Feirense and Vitoria Setubal.

They also reached the last 16 of the Champions League before losing to Juventus and suffered a shock elimination on penalties at the hands of Chaves in the Portuguese Cup.

"Porto and Nuno Espirito Santo reached an agreement on this Monday afternoon to end the coach's contract by mutual consent," said the club in a statement.

Porto won the Portuguese league nine times in 11 seasons from 2002/03 to 2012/13 but their dominance came to an abrupt halt, with arch-rivals Benfica winning the last four.

Since 2013, they have appointed Paulo Fonseca, Julen Lopetegui, Jose Peseiro and Nuno as coaches, while Luis Castro and Rui Barros have also been in charge on an interim basis.

Goalkeeper Nuno's playing career took him to Vitoria Guimaraes, Deportivo La Coruna, Merida, Osasuna, Dynamo Moscow and Aves, though he spent much of his time as second-choice.

He had two stints at Porto, the first from 2002-04 when he played second fiddle to Vitor Baia and the second from 2007 to 2010, when Brazilian Helton stood in his way.

Nevertheless, Nuno won a Champions League, Intercontinental Cup and UEFA Cup, four Portuguese league titles and three Portuguese Cup winners medals during those two spells.

His coaching career began as assistant to Jesualdo Ferreira at Malaga. He was named Valencia coach in July 2014 but was fired one year and four months later.

Chelsea's Antonio Conte was named Manager of the Year at a League Managers Association awards ceremony on Monday after leading his side to the Premier League title and FA Cup final.

The 47-year-old Italian, whose team finished seven points clear of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, will lead Chelsea out against Arsenal in the Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.

Chelsea's 93 points was the second highest total since the Premier League began in 1992 and they became the first Premier League team to register 30 victories in one season.

"I think I've had a lot of incredible emotions in my first season here in England. I want to say thank you to all the people who voted for me. It's great to receive this award. I hope I deserved this," Conte said.

"It's fantastic to read all the names that won this trophy and to stay with these managers is a great achievement for me. I hope to continue in the best way," he added after receiving the award from former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.

Chris Hughton, 58, was named Championship (second-tier) manager of the year after guiding Brighton & Hove Albion into the Premier League as runners-up to Newcastle United.

Angel Maria Villar was re-elected as the Spanish Football Federation's (RFEF) president for the eighth consecutive time on Monday after he stood unopposed. The term of office for the 67-year-old, who got 112 votes with 11 abstentions and six spoiled ballots, will run until 2020, with Villar having been first elected in 1988.

The former Athletic Bilbao and Spain midfielder has presided over the most successful era in the history of the Spanish national team, who won successive European Championships in 2008 and 2012 and their first World Cup in 2010.

"We have received huge endorsement which has brought us an undeniable victory. We have worked and won cleanly, it is a legitimate triumph, ratified by a strong majority," Villar told reporters.

The president is elected by an absolute majority of the members of the assembly which includes 120 members representing the clubs, players, referees and managers/coaches, who in turn are elected by the federation's ordinary members.

The president's former secretary general, Jorge Perez, had said he would run against him for the post but instead brought a case against Villar to Spain's highest sports court over alleged irregularities in the election of the RFEF assembly.

Perez withdrew from the election in protest, deciding not to present his candidacy on May 5, and asked the Spanish Sports Tribunal (TAD) and Sports Council (CSD) to annul the election of the RFEF general assembly, which they did not do.

In response to Perez's accusations, the RFEF published a statement saying the assembly election process had been conducted with "absolute honesty and transparency" and that the criticism was "completely untrue and biased".

Inter Milan forward Gabriel Barbosa has apologised for storming off the substitutes' bench when he realised he was not going to be used during Sunday's Serie A match at Lazio.

The 20-year-old Brazilian has had a frustrating first season at Inter, making just nine appearances, all as a substitute, and playing a total of only 111 minutes since his 30 million euros ($33.71 million) move from Santos last August.

He has managed one goal and picked up three yellow cards in that short period on the pitch.

His frustration boiled over during the 3-1 win at Lazio after he was not among the three substitutes brought on by coach Stefano Vecchi in the closing minutes of the game.

Television pictures showed him angrily leaving the bench before the final whistle.

"Inter supporters and team mates, during yesterday's game I suddenly adopted a thoughtless and inadequate attitude by leaving the pitch before the end of the game," he said on his Facebook page.

"Once the heat of the moment had died down, I realised, in calmness and with the support of my family, that the incident was unsporting and contradicted my professional values.

"I recognise my mistake and would like to register my sincere apologies to all the Inter fans who always supported me and to my team mates."

Gabriel, whose made his professional debut as a 16-year-old in 2013, emerged as one of Brazil's great hopes during three seasons at Pele's former club as he scored 57 goals and impressed with his pace, trickery, skill and clinical finishing.

He scored on his Brazil debut against Panama last year, went on to play at the Copa Centenario and won Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro with the under-23 team.

Vecchi said after the game that he expected the club to take action, although Inter have not commented since.

James Davison said it will be bittersweet to fill in for the injured Sebastien Bourdais at the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday but plans to do his best despite limited preparation time.

Davison completed 88 laps on the sprawling 2.5 mile oval speedway on Monday, with a best speed of 223.670 mph. It was the first time in two years the 30-year-old Australian, who has two previous starts in the race, was in the cockpit of an Indy car.

"It's certainly mixed emotions," Davison told IndyCar of replacing Bourdais. "No racing driver ever wants to secure an opportunity under these circumstances.

"I got to know Sebastien a little better when I was living in St. Petersburg a couple of years ago, and we were teammates together at KV Racing in 2014 when I was a rookie. He was very good to me there."

The 38-year-old Bourdais slammed head-on into the safety barriers when his Honda-powered car lost control on Saturday during qualifying.

Bourdais, who drives for Dale Coyne Racing, underwent surgery for pelvic fractures, officials said on Sunday.

Team owner Dale Coyne told IndyCar that Bourdais may not race again this year.

"He's got a plate, screws in his hip bone and plate on his pelvis. ... So it's at least 12 weeks, which may get him ready for Sonoma (in September), but why run one race?" he said.

"Let him rehab for the other four months and get ready to go for next year. Have him out and in January start testing with him and go at it."

Sunderland manager David Moyes has resigned after the team's relegation from the English Premier League. The former Manchester United coach announced his decision at a meeting with the club hierarchy in London on Monday.

Owner chairman Ellis Short says "having worked tirelessly throughout the campaign to avoid relegation from the Premier League, David has chosen to leave the club without compensation, which is testament to his character."

Moyes lasted only one season at Sunderland.

The Scot says, "I wish the players and my successor well in their efforts towards promotion back to the Premier League."

The team line-ups for the Under-17 World Cup (17th edition) to be held in India between 6 and 28 October 2017 are now complete, after the CAF (African Confederation) qualifiers were over on Monday.

Victories in their final group matches ensured Mali and Niger progressed to the tournament joining Ghana and Guinea, who had already sealed their qualification.

Niger made history by qualifying for a first-ever FIFA tournament after defeating Tanzania 1-0.

The 2016 AFC U-16 Championship held last year ensured Iraq, Iran, Japan and North Korea qualified for the tournament from Asia. Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and the United States of America recently qualified from the CONCACAF (Central, North American and the Caribbean) region.

England, France, Germany, Spain and Turkey recently sealed their places for the FIFA event after finishing as the best 5 teams from the 2017 UEFA European Championship.

Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Paraguay are the final CONMEBOL nations that will participate from South America while New Caledonia and New Zealand have qualified from the OFC (Oceania) region. Hosts India qualified for the tournament directly.

Welcoming the 24 countries, Tournament Director of the Local Organising Committee Javier Ceppi said, "It is very exciting to know the 24 teams that will be playing the World Cup. The line-up is superb, with established powerhouses in the category (such as former World Champions Brazil, Ghana and Mexico) and teams making their debut, among them the hosts India. Having seen the teams and knowing of their quality, football fans are in for a real treat in October and it is key that they can start getting their tickets now and book their place in history before is too late".

With the 24 teams in place, the attention now turns to the official draw, which will take place on July 7 and determine the fixtures for each team.

The 24 teams are:  India, England, France, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Japan, North Korea, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, United States of America, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Mali, Niger, Ghana, Guinea, New Caledonia and New Zealand

Cristiano Ronaldo helped Real Madrid lift their 33rd La Liga title on Sunday as he scored his 40th goal of the season within two minutes against Malaga to put Real in the driver's seat in their bid of dethroning FC Barcelona.

Real Madrid were three points ahead of Barcelona on the La Liga table and needed a draw or win against Malaga to win the 2016-17 title. Madrid beat Malaga 2-0, thanks to goals from Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, while Barcelona won 4-2 against Eibar. It was Madrid's consistency throughout the season that eventually proved to be the difference.

Despite the happiness of winning the domestic title, Ronaldo slammed the media for projecting him what he's not, saying he's "not a devil."

Post the match, Ronaldo was asked about a gesture he made to Celta Vigo players midweek during Madrid's 4-1 win over the Galicians insinuating that Celta had been offered bonuses to damage Madrid's title charge.

Ronaldo hit back at the press for making a mountain out of a molehill.

"People say things about me without knowing a thing and it bothers me. You (the media) say things about Cris without knowing the truth," Ronaldo retaliated.

"I am not a saint, but I am also not a devil like many people think I am," Ronaldo added.

Ronaldo further said that he has a family and such negativity about him in public affects them.

"I don't like this type of thing because I have a family, I have a mother, a son, and I don't like that they say stupid things about me."

The smile was back on Ronaldo's face when he was asked about his form lately. With the goal against Malaga, Ronaldo scored his 14th goal in the last nine games.

"I've prepared to be in top shape for the end of the season," he said.

Ronaldo said he was glad to be of help to his team that won Madrid's first title in five years.

"I've helped the team with my goals, my decisions and for that I am happy," Ronaldo added.

Real Madrid have their eyes set for a European double now as they prepare to face Juventus in the UEFA Champions League final on June 3 in Cardiff.

Popular Articles

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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”.

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."

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. 

Ireland and Everton defender Seamus Coleman faces up to a year on the sidelines after breaking his leg during a World Cup qualifier against Wales.

The ever-present risk of serious leg injuries in football was unfortunately realised once again as Wales’ Neil Taylor was shown a red card for a poor tackle during the 0-0 draw.

Once he realised what had happened, Coleman held onto his damaged leg while waiting for help.

Coleman was given oxygen on the field as medical staff attempted to immobilise his leg before taking to and ambulance and then hospital.

The final score took a back seat to Coleman’s well-being  after the match.

“It’s a bad break. Seamus is a fantastic player and character - it’s a major blow for the lad, for his club and for us,’’ Ireland manager Martin O’Neill told the UK’s Sky Sports.

“Apparently it wasn’t the best challenge in the world - I haven’t seen it back - but naturally disappointed. He’s gone to hospital and I think it’s broken.

“I saw Seamus’ reaction - he was holding his leg up and it didn’t look good.”

The length of Taylor’s suspension is yet to the decided but one this is for sure – Coleman is facing a lengthy stint of rehab before his professional career resumes.