Behind The Problems In Football Clubs is Poverty

I am the son of a poor man. I know poverty in its architecture and manifestations because I am involved in fighting it. Right from my own family to the two communities I call home down at The Peninsula and up at the edge of Kakamega Forest in Kaimosi. I have seen the indignity of poverty. You can now guess why my heart is at home in Sofapaka FC.

Recently Gor Mahia official Judith Nyangi announced on social media that Nairobi Governor candidate Mike Sonko had agreed to sponsor Gor Mahia Youth Team; I saw poverty. She then gleefully announced that Mike Sonko will send fans to watch the Sportpesa Super Cup final between Gor and AFC Leopards in Dar-es-salaam in Tanzania; more poverty. The other thing about poverty is that it is comforting whenever one finds herself in more activity without productivity.

Judith Nyangi cannot be the smartest lady in the Gor fraternity. What she lacks in smarts and looks she compensates well with confidence, a bit of arrogance and a good grassroots network and mobilization skills. This is why she marvels in her achievement and sitting next to Mike Sonko. Gor Mahia is still on a journey because it is people like Nyangi who will help some fans see what Gor lacks. This might spur some curious onlookers to jump in and improve the club.

Gor is not a poor club; it is just ridden in poverty mentality. If Gor was a poor club, it could be struggling like Sofapaka and Muhoroni Youth. From the top leadership to the fan, people are either happy or ignorantly satisfied with the state of affairs. It reminds me of a comment by a local music producer. Kenyan musicians are happy self-negotiating for 100% of a Ksh. 100,000 deal than let someone work out a 30% of Ksh. 20 million deal. Gor and AFC Leopards’ officials are in the former category. 

Poverty has the habit of looking at the here and now. Waiting for a week and seeking expert opinion is a waste of time. Negotiating in such a position is negotiating from a position of weakness. Only one outcome is expected, a loss. The height of irony is walking out of such a deal bragging. The road to financial freedom even for individuals is long and treacherous, but luck happens to a prepared mind. You cannot score a goal from the stands.

Poverty is in the mind. For Gor and AFC Leopards’ to get out of this mindset, they have to fight this poverty mentality. There is no way a handout by a politician can be announced like it is the best deal for a club that has potential for multi-million deals. There is question of sustainability and political fallout of parties involved. Mike Sonko is better off dealing with fans based branches than directly with the club. At the moment, incumbent Governor Evans Kidero is footing the coach’s rent which is a potential source of conflict with his opponent Mike Sonko.

 A few weeks ago I wrote that politics is at the heart of our clubs’ problems but it can provide solutions if handled well. Handling it well requires minds that have been emancipated from poverty. This is why I am calling on the smart souls at AFC Leopards’ and Gor Mahia, to step up and lead. Next time fans are electing club officials, remember that everything rises and falls on leadership. If you see excellence anywhere, rest assured that someone somewhere endured the pain and frustrations.


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