I grew up as a Gor Mahia fan and it is Gor Mahia’s loss to APR FC of Rwanda in 2010 that made me stop the foreign football and EPL ‘madness’. I remember the pullout from Daily Nation with all the Class of 1987 players who won Nelson Mandela Cup was pinned up on the wall of my room for many months. Abbas Khamis Magongo, the man from Mwanza is my best Gor Mahia player ever. That is not what I want to talk about. I want to jump into the forthcoming Gor Mahia elections.
Two youthful contestants have thrown their jerseys in the field. Dan Oketch and Chris Omondi are looking to unseat lawyer Ambrose Rachier who has been at the helm of the club for several years now. Rachier will defend his seat, vouching his efforts that brought Gor out of the trenches. He might have done a good job to get Gor to the ground level, but he is not the person to take Gor to the next level.
I wrote earlier on Facebook that Gor is like a Concorde that crush landed at Wilson Airport. What Rachier has been trying to do is to spruce it up on site and he has done a good job. The fact is Gor needs to find its way to JKIA, and that cannot be done by a pilot. Rachier is not the type of person to find unconventional ways like lifting the plane through the Nairobi National Park to Embakasi or dismantling it and rebuilding it up again.
I love FC Barcelona, more for what they do off the field of play. It is the only foreign club that I own a replica jersey of that is written LAPORTA at the back. Several people have asked me who Laporta is and I always take my time to explain to the Joan Laporta, FC Barcelona president between 2003 and 2010. There is a saying among Gor fans that “Gor is what they love”, which loosely translates to; everything and everyone else around Gor is secondary.
Envision this, before 2003; Barcelona had just won one Champions League trophy inthe 1991-92 season. They had been successful in La Liga through the nineties mainly due to the groundwork done by the late Johan Cruyff as manager between 1988 and 1996. When the Dutchman left, five managers managed the club until 2003. In the 2002-03 season the last season of Joan Gaspart as president, Barca finished sixth, their worst position in 15 years.
In December 2002, Barca had managed 17 points out of a possible 45. Things were worse off the field, as the club was deeply in debt. In the 2003 election, a youthful Joan Laporta announced his candidature because his friend and successor at Barca Sandro Rossell says being a Barca fan had become shameful. Laporta assembled a team of youthful technocrats that included current president Josep Bartomeu who beat Laporta in last year’s elections.
Laporta was elected on his promise of signing David Beckham at the time when Real Madrid had assembled a star studded team named Galacticos. Upon his election, Madrid snapped Beckham and Barca were worse on pitch. In December 2003, Malaga fans taunted Barca that they were going to be relegated to Segunda A.
Then Laporta’s Dream Team got into action and brought in Ronaldinho from Paris Saint Germain as a bargain because he was unsettled in Paris. They followed up with Edgar Davids from Juventus and then the untested former Barca player Frank Rijkard as coach against opposition from fans. The playing unit improved going into 2004 now it was time to turn the focus on the balance sheet.
A group of Barca die-hard fans used to enter Camp Nou free of charge. Laporta insisted they had to pay which led to threats on his life. The fans even painted graffiti about it on his gate, he never relented. In 2005-6 Barca won the Champions League and they have won it thrice after that. They have clinched eight league titles since 2004-05 season when they won it after six years.
Barca had a culture they held onto dearly; their shirt had never had corporate sponsor. To prepare the members for change, the club signed a deal with UNICEF in 2006 where they paid the UN agency 1.5 million Euros and their logo appeared on the players’ jerseys. After Laporta left, Sandro Rossell took over and pushed a deal of unprecedented amount in football with Qatar Foundation which moved UNICEF logo to the back of the jersey below the number. His argument was, if they did not break their culture, their opponents (read Real Madrid) will overwhelm them.
The story above shows how a group of youthful leaders jumped into a club that was on a downward path and turned things around. Gor Mahia, like Barcelona is the pride of Catalonia is the pride of Luos. Gor is not playing at the level of its peers like Zamalek, Esperence and El Mereikh on and off the field in the continent. The coming elections present a chance for fans to choose a new set of feet to fleet the club if as they say; it is Gor that they love. Nothing just happens, something must give.
As I said earlier, Gor does not need a pilot but a maverick nut head in charge at the club who will trump the new theme on the block- Make Gor Great Again. The vision must be crystal clear or else it is not a done deal. The virtue is not on the point leader, but the team he assembles around him.