Déjà vu all over again: the FKF, KPL saga


Once again Kenyan football is making a whole bunch of negative headlines for itself. It seemed like a not-so-big-a-deal difference of opinion between the governing Football Kenya Federation, and the Kenya Premier League ltd, through which participating clubs manage the affairs of the Kenya Premier League.

Then it became a massive crisis threatening to grind domestic football to a halt, and putting Kenya’s football teams banned from FIFA activities again.

Sam Nyamweya, FKF’s supremo (Source: Michezoafrika)

On the one hand Football Kenya Federation wants an additional 2 teams added to the Kenyan Premier League. Perhaps it is to help get more fans involved, perhaps it’s a gimmick to shore up support ahead of October’s elections, or perhaps it’s something else.

KPL declined the ‘request’ because they felt it would mess the financial arrangements that they had with the sponsors. In any case such decisions ought to originate from the KPL itself.

FIFA came in to mediate, commissioned a report with recommendations, which it handed over to FKF, what with them being the body FIFA recognized. They were probably hoping that this report would guide a reconciliation that would allow them to go and worry about something else. Word on the street (nothing official has been released) indicate the recommendations side with KPL. That has not happened.

FKF then went ahead and launched the FKF Premier League, complete with a list of 18 teams, of. They then went and started tossing fines and suspensions at anyone working with KPL’s attempts to carry on regardless.

Here are some things that at I haven’t seen explored in the mainstream coverage of this saga

1. Bad Blood? The personalities in the center of this dispute are not colliding for the first time. When Kenya was last banned from FIFA activities, it was because KFF, then led by present FKF chief, Sam Nyamweya was at center of the crisis. Among other things, FIFA, backed by personalities now in KPL, was attempting to change the face of football administration in Kenya through the now dead Football Kenya Limited. Now the shoe appears to be on the other foot, as FKF appears hell bent on steamrolling over the KPL and anyone who sides with them

2. Bad Precedents? Over its tenure, in charge FKF has made a bad habit of intervening and overruling decisions of various bodies, in spite of their mandate to actually make those decisions. From overturning KPL, and IDAC decisions on disciplinary issues, to going over team the heads of national team coaches on squad selections. Could FKF’s decision making be the culmination of the contempt it shows the institutions it is supposed to be nurturing?

3. Bad Campaigning? Did i mention that the board of the FKF is up for re-election this October?. Maybe this is just a cynical mover to emasculate the only organization with the capacity to mobilize and follow through on the removal of Nyamweya’s team.

Whatever the real motivations for this crisis, it  certainly stinks of a  kind of brinkmanship that will take Kenyan football nowhere.

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14 Years and Counting


I don’t normally post on Provincial (or county)level tournaments, on account of the fact that I prefer national level domestic competitions as a measure of the strength of the game in question. However with this post I make an exception.

Over the weekend Kanbis Sports Club defeated Sikh Union to win the Nairobi Province Super League for the 14th time in a row.  In the absence of an East Africa Premier League, or Cup this year (or for the immediate near future), this makes them the best domestic cricket club in the country right now.

A Kanbis Wicket-keeper showing the kind of focus that makes champions (Source:Sporton.nation.co.ke)

Given that the nations team captain as, well as the bulk of players turning out for Kenya’s youth teams over the past few years are Kanbis players, it further shows how much more dependent the game is dependent on them than ever before.

Before them, Swamibapa (Kanbis’s most fierce rivals by the way) had made similar run of dominance of the game, and it was through their scouting programme that the bulk of Kenya’s legendary team at the 2003 World Cup was scouted and introduced to the game.

Is this kind of one team domination a good thing or not for the game? Well it depends with what the dominant team chooses to do with that dominance. Swamibapa, as I stated made their prominence into a platfo0rm to fuel a ‘golden age’ for Kenyan Cricket as a whole. During Kanbis’ reign however (mostly due to things they can’t be blamed for) Kenya’s cricket  as a sport has suffered a crisis.

What can Kanbis’ success teach the rest of the game? Will the likes of Swamibapa, Sikh Union, Premier, Stray Lions or a new entity that has not come to the fore yet take this challnege to catch up with and overtake Kanbis? Will their model be studied and applied by aspiring sport organisations in and outside of Nairobi? Will their winning culture translated to whichever national teams their players get called up to?

I am hoping the answer to most of these questions is yes, because, Kenyan cricket at all levels needs it

Jackie Returns and other stories


Having rushed to do a piece on the reports that Jackie Jan Mohammed was stepping down as chairperson of Cricket Kenya, I am now rushing to do a piece indicating that said resignation has been withdrawn. Strictly speaking, this is just a ‘rumour’ on social media as neither the mainstream press, not Cricket Kenya has published confirmation of the event on the public domain through any of their official channels.

Guess who’s back! (picture from: gulf news)

It seems that the board simple was not ready to move on without Mrs Mohammed and persuaded her to hand in in there for the time being. The decision is said to have been confirmed at a full board meeting in Mombasa a few days ago.

While all this was happening (or not happening) we are now into the month of September without any communication (even of the rumour variety) as to what the fate of the East Africa Premier League and Cup. Over the past few years, they have normally been held in the August-September period, following the conclusion of the provincial leagues.

It is through these competitions that the likes of Irfan Karim, and Lucas Oluoch really burst on to the limelight. Have they been postponed? Cancelled? Or are they being staged, as you read this, in secret at an undisclosed location? What is going on?

Anyway, be that as it may be, the ICC has finalised structure of the new World Cricket Leagues, through which Kenya will begin the path back to relevance on the world stage. The men’s team will play Namibia, Canada, the Netherlands, and two promoted teams from Division 3 in Namibia, in February next year.

The top two teams will be promoted to Division One, from whence the qualification for various World Cups will be contested, as well as becoming party of the newly restructured Intercontinental Cup, from whence they should get a shot at test cricket.

I’m not going to dwell so much on previewing this upcoming tournament, except to say that on recent head to head records against the opposition at this tournament, Kenya are not the favourites to come through.

Anyway, that is the latest in Cricket in Kenya, maybe some of the question raised will be answered, maybe they won’t. That’s life

Change Cometh, and Cricket Kenya must deal with it


Cricket Kenya has a new chairperson. This blogger understands that Jackie Jan Mohammed has very recently stepped down from the position of Chairperson of Cricket Kenya, citing personal reasons, and her deputy chairperson, one Mr. Anil Patel has taken over.

To the best of my knowledge she was the only woman to have ever headed a national sports body in Kenyan history, and will likely the only one who may have the privilege and responsibility to do so for the foreseeable future.

Jackie Janmohammed (Source: imgci.com)

It would not be fair to pass judgment on Jackie’s tenure at the head of Cricket Kenya without first coming to grips with the situation the organization was in leading up to her tenure. Her reign began as part of a settlement to put a stop to a bunch of litigation that had dragged the process of replacing Samir Inamdar, her predecessor, out for two years.

Her predecessor had himself been come to be in charge of Cricket Kenya at the tail end of even more litigation, through which the old Kenya Cricket Association was dissolved and replaced by Cricket Kenya.
In between there were, a whole bunch of other intrigues that saw Kenya’s senior players on strike on several occasions, the site for a proposed national academy repossessed and turned into part of a super highway, and pretty much all structure in the game slip away
In that context her time could therefore be seen as the facing the consequences for the past decade’s stagnation.

On the field Kenya’s men’s national team failed to qualify for the 50 over World Cup for the first time since 1992, were relegated out of Division 1 of the World Cricket League, and lost the One Day International Status, upon which a lot of the support that Cricket in Kenya was getting from the International Cricket Council was being channeled.

However, on the domestic, though she did preside over the settling in and expansion of The East Africa Premier League and Cup, to the extent that the T20 competition was even able to attract some serious international level talent in its most recent edition.

Both tournaments have been in a way ‘cursed’ by their own success, as the extra revenues generated seem to have just become another avenue for the same old back door power games, and intrigue rather than a vehicle for the overall growth of the game.

Her successor, Mr. Anil Patel, has a very full plate once he gets into the swing of things. The last time I checked, Cricket Kenya did not have a Chief Executive Officer, the East Africa Leagues season is around the corner, and the board is certainly looking at a cut in funding from the ICC, as well as a truncated schedule of fixtures (from the ICC’s programs for associates) to keep the national teams at all levels active.

So in the short term those will be the challenges.
The national team have February’s World Cricket league Division II to begin their rehabilitation, and earn the right to be in the next edition of the Intercontinental Cup.

The women’s and youth national teams do not even have the certainty of that, until the full implications of the cuts by the ICC to regional youth and women’s cricket become fully known, at least.
In the medium to long term there is continuing to build trust among the corporates and institutions that have invested in Kenyan cricket so far. There is the need to work out how to get additional resources from wherever and whomever they can get onto the band wagon of making Kenyan cricket grow.

And of course, the resident pachyderm in the building called Kenya’s tiny player base. I have called for this many time before and will call for it again. Cricket Kenya needs to get a formula to get cricket into public schools and institutions in a sustainable way. We are talking about getting a portion of the ~97% of school going children countrywide.

That is a story for another day.  For now, its to wish Mr Patel, and the remnant of the Cricket Kenya board installed in 2012, all the best as they steer the game forwards.

Kenya XV’s Latest Adventure


By Now you have probably heard. In fact as I write this blog, the boys should already be knee deep into their 1st match of the pool stage. Kenya XVs quest for progress and relevance has taken them to Cape Town, where they will be contesting the Vodacom Cup as the Tusker Simba XV

This is the latest of numerous interventions done with the dream of Kenya making her maiden appearance at the Rugby World Cup. Or at least show some of the breakthroughs that have been witnessed at the more successful 7s national team.

There have been several promises to bring over 2nd tier nations from Europe and South America that did not work out. There was the Elgon Cup, which grew into the Victoria Cup before collapsing in  heap. There has also been the on off participation in the Junior World rugby TrophyThis was t the international level

At the club level there is the Bamburi Rugby Super Series, which goes from strength to strength, as well as efforts to grow the kenya Cup-Eric Shirley Shield and the Enterprise Cup.

All these driven by the quest to get the XVs team to catch up with with the level of growth that the Sevens lads have seen.

This intervention, on the other hand is a whole different approach. The Vodacom Cup is a South African Competitiobn that as far as I know is essentially a finishing school fro Rugby players en route to the wonderful world of Super Rugby, Tri-Nations and all the glory that goes with it.

The gist of Kenya’s participation, is that the several week of grueling competition will prepare the team mentally and cohesionally (hiyo ni neno?) to finally pip Namibia to that Africa slot. Is this a long term thing or a once off entry?

I guess we will find out with time. Meanwhile I should be googleing scores, no?

Devolving Football? What Sofapaka and Tusker FC’s moves portend


Kenya’s 2014 premier league season starts imminently and aside from the usual ins and out, there have been two moves, or rather two incidences of a move that have struck as different. Over the Sofapaka Football Club, Mathare United and Tusker FC will be opening the season in new locations. The  formely Nairobi based,  Mathare United, Sofapaka, a shifted base to Machakos , and Tusker set out to move to Meru. The Tusker Move not beingwithout its controversies. The Stadium move being stalled first of all by KPL declaring the proposed Kinoru Stadium venue unfit to host premier League matches, only for FKF to interfere and muddy the waters further

Why did these clubs make (or set out to make)there moves? This post won’t attempt to give a ‘comprehensive’ answer to this but here are some hypotheses. Firstly, Its likely the two clubs did this because of market forces. Over the part decade, Tusker and Sofapaka have between them won more trophies than pretty much everybody else in the Kenya Premier League, yet in hue crowded field of Nairobi football, hearts and minds still very much belong to to Ingwe and K’Ogalo.

What do these moves mean for Kenyan football?  Without pretending to offer a ‘comprehensive’ answer here are a bunch of hypotheses that I figured come into play.

Firstly, the two clubs are seeking new markets to grow their brands. Tusker FC is the third most successful football club in Kenya outright, and in the past decade or so and could very well have  closed out other teams in terms of success on the field had a revival of corporate interest in the tow big community clubs (AFC and Gor) not happened when it did. Yet what do they have to show in terms of a fan base.  To the best of this blogger’s knowledge their games continue to get minimal gate attendances and for an institution with all the financial backing that Tusker has, that just ain’t right!

Sofapaka, and Mathare United on the other hand are new kids on the block. Sofapaka backed by the flamboyant Elly Kalekwa, and Mathare Unieted by the MYSA. They have taken the league by storm, and though they have better crowds than Tusker, they too seem to have found that,  the hearts and minds of most Nairobi football fans seemingly belong firmly to either Ingwe or K’Ogalo. So what do these teams do? Move I suppose.

What is the way forward For Tusker and Sofapaka?
What is the way forward For Tusker, Mathare and Sofapaka?

On the other hand why Machakos and  Meru and not say…Uasin Gishu and Murang’a ( hoe county of Kenneth Matiba, the founder of Tusker FC)? This blogger understands that the county governments in question were more than passive participants in the football clubs’ respective moves? What is in it for them

This blogger reckons that its not just prestige, but the possibility of drawing attention to use the teams as a centre-point to develop sports and cultural activities is what convinced Governor Mutua of Machakos, and Governor Munya of Meru to act on this opportunity.

Which benefits to they intend to harvest from this? Will the football clubs start developing local footballers for use their Premier League and continental assignments? Will the exposure on Super Sport TV draw interest to the wider opportunities that these counties have to offer?This blogger certainly hopes so.

NB: This post has been updated to reflect the controversy revolving around the Kinoru Stadium in Meru.

The Rise and Rise of Rakep, and Other Stories


This blogger has heard it on the grapevine that Rakep Rajendra Patel, is set to be confirmed as the captain o the Kenya men’s national cricket team. The Top Order bowler slash part time off spin bowler slash back up wicket keeper has been in the national team since 2007 is  be taking over the captaincy from Collins Obuya, who had been captain of the team since 2011

Cricket Kenya Logo
Cricket Kenya Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I believe (though not 100%) that at just over 24 years old Rakep has become the youngest person to be handed the reins of the national cricket. The next youngest (as far as my memory tells me) being when a 25 year old Maurice Odumbe was asked to captain Kenya’s team to the 1996 Cricket World Cup.

I feel, that circumstances aside, his appointment represents a unique opportunity for the national team to take a new direction under a person, hopefully for the betterment of the team as a whole.

Mind you this is not Rakep’s first ever significant captaincy assignment, as he has a back ground of captaining Kenya’s U19 national team, the EAPL franchises Kanbis Tigers and Express Ndovu as well as being a leading light in the Kanbis ‘A’ team that has pretty much dominated the NPCA leagues this past decade.

In addition to that, with former Kenya captains: Collins Obuya, Morris Ouma, Thomas Odoyo, Ragheb Aga, and possibly Steve Tikolo active and available for selection, he will not lack for a ‘council of elders’ to harvest input from

His immediate task is to rally the team to get one of the last two slots for the 2015 Cricket world Cup in Australia and New Zealand, that will be contested in New Zealand early next year. What is on the line is not just a 6th consecutive appearance on the biggest stage in world cricket for Kenya’s men’s team, but access to a bunch of grants and credits which are presently the largest source of steady funding for Cricket Kenya as a organization.  They will pretty much be playing for their livelihoods there.

This will not be easy given Kenya won only 4 of the 10 matches against the teams they will be facing in New Zealand, in the earlier  stages of the qualifiers.

Nonetheless, he can take heart that they did beat Ireland, who booked an early ticket to said world cup by winning the WCL league, fairly convincingly, so the ability is there.

In conclusion this blogger assumes that the appointment  of Rakep Patel is made with the long term in mind. let us hope that it goes well. GOOD LUCK TO YOU RAKEP!