Do Kenyans realize that SuperSport began sponsoring the Kenya Premier League in 2007? The initial sponsorship was to last four years and cost more than Kshs. 360m, or $5.5. Afterwards, the broadcast right holder promised to spend more than $11m on KPL, which was to be twice what it first offered. The new deal was […]
And it it is, amidst the gloom of the floundering fortunes of the Harambee Stars, Kenya women’s national team, shone bright, qualifying for their first ever Africa Cup of nations.
This is a Milestone for Kenyan football and massive relief fro the Nick Mwendwa FKF regime. They have been under fire from a media (probably still full of people loyal to the Ancien regime) over the poor state of the Harambee Stars.
I digress. This post is simply to pass my congratulations to the women who have shows that with some real support they can go very far, in what is still the very underdeveloped world of women’s football in Africa.
The first major decision of the new FKF team has been made. The highly reputed Bobby Williamson has been relieved of his duties as Hrambee Stars coach and replaced by long time Mathare United tactician Stanley Okumbi.
Early reactions I am seeing on the inter webs are mostly negative, and downright critical of the decision. The basis, which I totally understand is that Mr. Okumbi is neither glamorous, neither does he have a trophy cabinet full of shiny medals and titles that are the normal expectation when hiring a national team coach.
However I think that because of the challenges that Football in Kenya has, not just Harambee Stars recent run of poor qualifying outcomes, Stanley Okumbi is the kind of coach who is best suited for the job right now.
His predecessor Bobby Williamson, a great coach by any standards, had come off taking Uganda Cranes too multiple CECAFA titles, and Gor Mahia to much silverware.
He was the kind of coach who you would normally expect to get such an assignment. Lots of trophies, foreign passport, etc. Yet in his tenure in the Stars coaching job was hardly the roaring success one would expect.
The reason for this is not because the man himself suddenly became a bad coach, it is because Harambee Stars have problems that cannot be fixed by the glamour of a famous coach. Harambee Stars problems are structural.
FKF has yet to implement clear program for player development, coach development, friendly fixtures and other supplementary issues that the coaches of major football powers take for granted, when they take on the job of coaching whatever national team they are in charge of.
For Harambee Stars coaches on the other hand, the modus Operandi is get a ‘name recognized’ superman and hope the man can work miracles in spite of the total lack of co-operation or direction from the administration.
Failure to which, FKF blame that coach for everything wrong and repeat the process with some other superman coach, to somehow unilaterally work wonders.
Up till now it seems. By appointing someone whose background in football is from the most successful player development program in the country, the Mathare Youth Sports Association, FKF is signalling that they want to bring in people who know what it actually takes to holistically build a successful national team from the ground up.
Stanley Okumbi may not have a lot of trophies or medals, while guiding a seriously outgunned and inexperienced Mathare United team into mid table finishes in the Sport Pesa premier League. Yet I am sure that if you ask many of the players who have left Mathare United to greater glory with local, regional and international teams, many will tell you that his coaching is what laid the foundation for them to succeed as players.
I am not writing this post to play Devil’s advocate, I genuinely believe that Stanley Okumbi’s strengths are uniquely matched to the areas of weakness that Harambee Stars have as a team.
I also want to believe that as time goes on many people with similar youth football backgrounds, whether they are foreign or local, famous or not, will be added to coach our other national and youth teams, and that between them they can help FKF bring not just temporary success (winning the match or bahatishaing a small local trophy) but long term dominance of their opponents back to Harambee Stars.
In short Stanley Okumbi may not be the coach we want, he is the coach we need right now.
Football Kenya Federation’s elections have come to a close. After a long drawn out process marked by the usual shenanigans with registration of Football clubs, delegates and so on, Nicholas Mwendwa emerged the new Chairman of Football Kenya Federation, while Incumbent Sam Nyamweya formally retired from football activities.
NIck Mwendwa basks in the glory of victory (Source: Daily Nation)
Standing at the head of the ‘Team Change’ slate that swept the board, winning majority of the FKF branch Chairmanships and NEC positions, Nick Mwendwa and his allies were granted a powerful mandate to implement change in an organization in desperate need to break from years of mediocrity and corruption.
Heck even the outgoing chair, himself elected on a platform of change, wound up covered in the graft which he was supposed to end.
So, what this blogger is wondering, is specifically what changes does team change intend to bring into FKF?
There is the unfinished business of the FKF-KPL standoff and what consequences it has on the teams, corporate sponsors and broadcast partners that have found themselves on either side of the standoff.
There is the continued neglect of women and youth football, and the absence of strategic direction of the men’s senior team. Harambee Stars remain the only team in the East Africa region who never seem to have anything lined up for FIFA sanctioned friendly match dates.
There is also the floundering, perhaps even ill advised efforts to bring the Africa Cup of Nations to the country. If Team change decide that that is somethign still worth pursuing then, that would mean there has to be an overhaul of the football infrastructure in Kenya.
Most importantly Mr. Mwendwa needs to show Kenyans that he has taken FKF chairman post because wants to work on building Kenyan fotball not just as a means to leverage himself into politics like so many of his predecessors.
All in all this blogger hopes that Team change can deliver on its promises to Kenyan football, and the FKF can become a beacon shining a light, not just for Kenyan football’s path to greatness, but to African football as a whole.
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.
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.
Two months ago a certain African football federation was thrown into turmoil when the host of their show piece event suddenly withdrew. While CAF moved with speed to save the Africa Cup of Nations, the body I’m talking about is the Confederation and East and Central African Football Associations, and the event in question is the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup.
Born as the Gossage Cup in the 1920s, the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup is the oldest running international football tournament on the African Continent, was due to be hosted in Ethiopia in its traditional November-December window.
Kenya’s Harambee Stars are the current defending champions, having won the 2013 edition as hosts. That year’s tournament had its own problems as FKF, struggled to mobilize funds to ensure all th hosting costs were met in good time. There was the embarrassment of a national team detained in a city hotel over unpaid bills.
After a number of behind the scenes efforts, CECAFA finally gave up (at least for this year) and the tournament was called off. Word spreading on several sports sites indicates that the tournament long overdue an overhaul and that nation were increasingly averse to hosting the show in its current format.
Apparently, some of CECAFA’s members want a home and away league system (like in the UEFA Champions League) with finalists playing each other at a neutral venue at the end of the year. Or something like that
If this reform carries through, it will pretty much eliminate the burden of one country having to host several teams and the delegations and fans, that apparently was the beef behind most of the CECAFA members dislike for the once off tournament format.
However, spreading the CECAFA tournament will have its draw backs. For instance, given that most of the time the players are involved in club football (home and abroad) and when that is not going on, World Cup and CAN Qualifiers, when will these matches be held?
Will there not likely be resistance from those clubs whose plates are already full with local league, and continental commitments? Asking them to allow their start players to commit to an additional ~22 (11 opponents x 2 games) during the competitive season might a bitter pi8ll to swallow. Not to mention issues of security, in countries like Somalia in particular. Will they host their won matches?
That being said, no actual changes have been announced, yet and in all likelihood, the promoters of change might not get the numbers to force anything at all through. Nonetheless, with this years’ Challenge Cup tournament off the books, and potential host showing cold feet, clearly things cannot go on as is.
Bobby Williamson may be a great coach, but this is a terrible job offer.
On Sunday Afternoon on the 2nd of August 2014, Kenya Harambee Stars were due to face Lesotho needing to win by 2 clear goals, to stave off elimination from Africa Cup of Nations qualification at the preliminary round. They were unable to do so. The match ended goalless. The only way Harambee Stars will be at the 2015 Africa Cup of nations it seems, will be as ‘observers.’
Within minutes of the game, Football Kenya Federation had dismissed the team’s entire technical bench, and ‘disbanded’ the playing squad. Within days they had grabbed, the very well reputed Bobby Williamson, winner of 4 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup trophies, and the man who ended Gor Mahia’s 18 year Premier League title drought, as Harambee Stars new head coach.
And so the merry-go-round called head coach of Harambee Stars continues to roll. Though there are likely promises that have been made to Mr. Williamson over Job security and a bunch of other things, this blogger doubts there will be much seriousness in keeping them.
The man himself is clearly qualified for the job, but is the employer ready to deal with him long enough for his ability to make a difference? Does it matter how good the man in the head coach’s role is, if the rest of the structure (youth development and scouting, logistics and friendly matches planning etc) is virtually non-existent? Harambee Stars have been through an inordinate amount coaches over the past decade with only marginal variation in the outcomes on the pitch. As far as I believe the head coach’s position is hardly where the problems Harambee Stars have lie.
CV aside there not is much difference between this appointment, and that of the last man shown the door, Adel Amrouche. A big name, that’s hired on hype of recent success, to single-handedly be the magic pill that ends all of Harambee Stars woes. Sprinkle in some token local management and apparently you have a winning formula.
Granted Bobby Williamson, as I stated earlier in the post has an amazing resume, and reputation, the cynic in me reckons, that when push comes to shove his appointment is simply more window dressing on FKF’s part.
Without real substantive changes to the way FKF runs football in Kenya, then most likely outcome is, Bobby Williamson will struggle to get any more out of Harambee Stars than Adel Amrouche did.
At the end of the day either he will resign in a huff, or get made the scapegoat for all of Harambee Stars shortcomings, and some other high-profile ‘miracle worker’ will take over and the cycle will start again. That is how FKF rolls!