Kenyanstar's Emisiko Andwati found time to have an interview with former Kenyan Criket national team player Michael Abwamba. Mike as many are fond of calling him had a very promising career that came to an abrupt end after playing for the Obuya Cricket Academy, Swamibapa, Kenya Kongonis, the U19 and senior Kenya national teams. In the interview, Mike explains how it happened that he left playing at such an early age and how he ended up as a coach at Jaffery Academy in Arusha, Tanzania.
Sports plays an integral part in any child's development. It instills and teaches the need for discipline, It keeps the mind fresh for academic excellence, It keeps the young ones, and even the not so young, away from various ills of life. It also presents itself as an alternative career path. These are the reasons a group of seven Kenyans founded the Khwisero Sports Academy, to give the youth of Khwisero in Kakamega county a sporting Chance.
A Basketball player and administrator, an experienced marketer, a sports entrepreneur. Cynthia Mumbo requires no introduction in the sports circles. After several years in the corporate world that saw her work with giants like East African Breweries Limited and Menengai Oil, Cynthia has opted to transfer her experience into sports and help commercialize the Kenyan Sports Industry. The Young CEO of Sports Connect Africa is our Kenyanstar of the week and here is her story ...
KS: Thank you for accepting to do this Cynthia, For the benefit of our readers who may not know you, please introduce yourself.
I am Cynthia Mumbo, a sports entrepreneur and I’m very passionate about developing sports not just in Kenya but on the entire African continent. I have about twelve years experience in working for corporate companies in Kenya and I’d like to bring that experience to sports business and the discussion around sports on how we should move forward. I am a mother of a sporty nine-year old; we eat, drink and live sports.
KS: Tell us about your passion for sports, The origin and where has got you thus far?
I’m always excited about sharing this story because it takes me back to when I started running and playing. I have a very strong influence in Benjamin Ayimba, former coach of Kenyan Sevens rugby team. When I was a kid, we lived in the same flat and I was mesmerized by his medals. Benjamin used to make me and my friends run when we were kids, for some reason I used to win a lot and I remember being given presents like sweets for winning, so that just got into my system. My parents were also passionate about sports so it’s an in-built thing. I started very young and I always thought I would play in the WNBA. I had that dream when I was young and I have always wanted to excel in the field of sports. I do what I do because I feel that I didn’t make it as an athlete in the sporting space so I want to create an opportunity for other young people.
KS: What credentials do you hold sport wise?
I am an all-rounder who has an interesting background. I have credentials from Chartered Institute of Marketing, currently I am studying my masters in sports management at the Johan Cruyff Institute in Spain. I have been to Vitz University through a special program that was sponsored by SuperSport, which is a Diploma in sports management and I am actually the only certified female federations manager from FIBA in East and Central Africa.
KS: You played in the Kenyan basketball league for over ten years. What were the highlights of your playing career?
As a player, I was lucky enough to play for several teams; I played for NSSF and I think that as my first team to play for was fantastic. That is where I learnt most of my basketball because I was lucky to play with talented guys. From there, I played for USIU then moved to Kenyatta University. But my highlight was playing for Yana; My first job was actually at Firestones so I got to play basketball for them, where we set up a team from scratch and in the first two years we got into the play-offs. Starting a team from zero and taking them to that level was fantastic.
KS: Any low moments?
Yeah… one is the fact that I’m not playing now because I think I should still be playing; I got injured and the injury bit just took me back. Another low moment is that I feel there should have been more in basketball in this country and there still should be more because as an athlete, I feel that I didn’t get to achieve my best because the sporting environment has not really supported team sports in this country.
KS: How did you balance sports and academics? Sports and your marketing Career? Is it easier in some sports than in others?
Currently, I’m going 100% in sports business but marketing is everything. I really got into marketing because ultimately, my goal was to get into sports business so I don’t think it has been a challenge in terms of balancing because when I was working in the corporate world, the idea was to try and understand how a business works. I was also in the basketball federation for about six years so whatever it is that I was pulling in from the corporate side, I was able to bring it back to the sporting side. It is really a matter of balancing, and sports teaches you to be disciplined so you have to figure out what time you need to do certain things.
KS: Do you think an attempt to balance sports and academic excellence is suppressing our sports Industry?
Our culture is education first and then other things and I know that that is something that is changing by having the Wanyamas of this world excelling while having gone to school and still being disciplined. That is a good thing because parents then realize that it can happen. If you put a kid into sports at a young age and notice that they can run or play basketball, the most important thing is how do you manage their time so that there is time for athletics involvement and there is time for books. Our culture does not appreciate that athletes who are the actual people who make the industry exist. People would rather fight so hard to be a member of the federation because there are more perks in being one. So I think it’s something that needs to be worked on.
KS: What challenges would a player face playing basketball in kenyan basketball league?
One is that there is no value, meaning what goes back to that athlete? There is no reward so it is like a pass time thing. I am not saying it happens to everyone; KPA, Equity and others reward their players. But there is a very big imbalance because there are so many teams that are self-sponsored, so they are not playing for anything and when you don’t have that, there is no competition. You find the same teams winning because they are the ones that are valued. I always go back to the discussion around the players because once they are taken care of, you find that the broader discussion around sports will change because it creates strategy.
KS: You have served as the team manager for the Kenya ladies basketball team and also as a committee member of the Kenya Basketball Federation. First, what was your contribution to the game in these two position?
Being in the federation, I think the highlight for me was being part of the team that got Kenyan basketball on to SuperSport live broadcast and for the first time bringing on board partners like Menengai and Kabras, therefore injecting money into the sport. That has not happened since.
KS: Secondly, do you think the state of basketball is better now compared to how you left it?
I feel that we have gone lower than low. The thing about sports is that it is evident in the execution. We are not in a better place. It pains me because basketball is in my blood. If we could be able to structure things in such a way that we are able to bring in more stakeholders and open up to criticism, it will help the game.
KS: Tell us about the Vikapu Elite Basketball Camp.
It’s my brainchild and vikapu as you know means basket. The idea for me was to support talent at a young age so we were to hold our first camp last year but unfortunately it didn’t materialize. Unfortunately again we have elections in August so we have to push it to December. I have a lot of networks outside this country and I get a lot of people writing asking what they can do or bring to help. The idea of Vikapu is to bring young people together for a week or two and give them the basics on basketball, but also empower them through life skills.
KS: How do you intend it to grow basketball in Kenya?
Talent is required across the board. I think you have seen what the NBA is doing in Africa. Our idea is to empower and then take them out to the networks that we have, and you never know what opportunities they might get. We have networks asking for that talent from Africa and we are at the forefront at investing in talent at this particular juncture, so that we can provide the world with that talent when they need.
KS: Are you involved in any way with the junior NBA team?
Yes. Junior NBA is the flagship youth program for the NBA and we are the implementing organization for them in Kenya. We have started the pilot program in Nairobi with thirty teams and together we have about 450 kids between the age of nine and twelve in the program. We will actually be having the junior NBA finals in July and it will be nice to have you come. We run the full basketball operations from getting the teams together to the finals and making sure the whole basketball element is sorted out.
KS: You have been in the press a lot this year, probably in the past too. One online media asserts that you have turned your sports passion into a lucrative business. How lucrative has it been for you?
We are at start up so there is still a lot of challenges. But I look at the opportunities and ask myself if European countries are doing it, what are we not doing. And that is where the lucrativeness is. I look at it and say what can we do to create a commercial discussion around sports, and that’s what drives me every morning. I am very passionate about sports and connecting people, and that is where Sports Connect Africa comes in. We are trying to bring these together so as to create an income, not just for me but also create value for the country.
KS: Tell us about Sports Connect Africa.
I think by now you can tell that I started sports when I was very young. I didn’t necessarily know that I would be running a sports business at this point in my life. The fact that I didn’t ultimately make it in the athletic environment is what pushed me to look for what I can do. The fact that I also worked in corporate for a long time made me realize that the business element was what was missing, so I wanted to figure out how I can bring that discussion about business around sports. So that’s where Sports Connect Africa came from.
KS: Besides yourself, who are the other brains driving Sports Connect Africa and what exactly are their roles and contributions?
I work with consultants given that the business is still young. So we have had to accommodate what we can afford at the moment. I’ve got Harrison Kaudia who is very key in terms of the basketball program elements and I’ve got Papi Odhiambo who understands finance from very many different angles. We also have Pamela Sinda who works for us from an administrative perspective.
KS: Coming back to overall sports, what do you think is the state of sports in the country?
I feel that we are not where we should be. I asked myself, why do our children wake up and work so hard to go and play in Europe? Why can’t Europe come to Africa? I’m that cocky about Africa. We are trying and I don’t believe in trying, I believe in doing….we need to set our aspiration maybe a hundred times higher than where we are. If you go to any sport in the country and ask, is there a minimum wage bill? Is infrastructure supported?. Every space that was open in this town has been taken up by a building.…. I’m excited about what Mombasa government did of setting up a new stadium. That is fantastic. I feel that not much is being done and there is no belief as to what sports can do to this country as an industry.
KS: How is Sports Connect Africa helping in bridging the gap between where we are and where we should be?
It starts from a strategic element because it is not something that can be done in one day. We must first hold federations into account. We currently have the Sports Act but I feel guys are not yet being held into account. I think the execution element is what I would focus on. The corruption element in sports unfortunately is also among the key things pushing us back and it is sad. I think if that element is reduced even by 50%, so much will be done.
KS:Take us through some of the projects that you have previously or are currently handling as Sports Connect Africa.
The junior NBA is a flagship project and we are very happy with what we have been able to achieve in the first year. We recently held the GEC tournament which is a golf tournament that supported ten different countries and the winners went to Dubai. We have a couple of projects which we are working on that I can’t share on camera because they are still under discussion. Of course the Vikapu projects is another that we are working on and we are very excited about it. We still have other projects which are coming up, and they are very exciting.
KS:What challenges does Sports Connect Africa face in meeting its foundation objectives?
Resources. A lot of people don’t understand this business so I have to explain a lot. But challenges are there to be overcome so we look for what we need to do to reach out and solve the problems that we can.
KS:What do you think would be the impact of Supersport exit from the Kenyan market? What Would you say is the role of media is sports?
I like that you asked that question. We know about Olympics, NBA, World Cup and others purely because of media. In sports management, we have what we call the sports triangle where there are three key components; Sports, Media and Sponsorships. Media is very key, If sports is not set up properly, then the media will not be attracted. If they are reporting negative stuff or reporting nothing at all it means that is how our sports are. That will then influence other partners who are potential sponsors who will decline to be associated with sports, based on what they are seeing from the media. But if the sports is organized, everybody will want to be associated with it beginning from positive coverage by the media.
KS: What is your Parting shot to kenyans and readers of Kenyanstar?
Let’s take the commercial elements of sports seriously. I think it’s not a difficult thing to do but there has to be a concerted effort to steer sports towards being an industry that is respected. We are known for sports all over the globe so we need to create an industry that hires marketers, business people and so on. We also need to work together and realize that we are all going towards a specific goal, whether we are competing or not; and that is to change the lives of young people in this country and continent.
While most coaches are losing hair plotting on how to have at least one trophy in the cabinet at the end of the season, to Jos Openda, that has never been a concern. To him, Kenya Hockey Union league title is assured even before the first ball of the season bullies off. In fact, his biggest concern is how to finish the season in style, to win the league without conceding a goal.
Her illustrious career on the volleyball court was abruptly cut short by a deadly heart condition which has seen her survive three major hear operations. Despite the numerous health challenges punctuated by several trips to the hospital, Roseline Odhiambo, a former National team centre blocker and 2010 and 2012 Africa’s best blocker and server still has a big heart of helping the needy with the little resources she should ordinary be sharing with her two young sons.
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.
At the age of 17, he had helped set up a vibrant Sports Club whose key objective was to keep idle youth busy by bringing them together and create opportunities for them. He is tough and probably one of the most misunderstood sports administrators in Kenya. Andrew Mudibo, the Kenya Table Tennis President also heads 13 other countries across Africa in the sport he picked instead of his first love, football.
We had a candid talk with Mudibo who has since announced his interest to vie for National Olympic Committee of Kenya Secretary General post in the coming poll in May.
KenyanStar: Thank you so much Mr. Mudibo for sparing your time for this interview. Just to start us of, who is Andrew Mudibo in Kenyan sport arena?
Mudibo: In sports Andrew Mudibo has been, let me say an all-rounder. All-rounder because I started off as a player. I used to play football in the late 80s. I played with the likes of Dennis Oyiela and Achieng Achieng. Those were very key players for AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia and even Harambee Stars and at that time I was a force to reckon with in the team we were playing with. I learnt a lot from them. We were good team mates at Undungu football club. It was during that time that I was also a good Table Tennis Player. It is then that I started St. Teresa Table Tennis Club at St. Teresa Catholic Church in Eastleigh.
I started St. Teresa when I was 17 years old. What we did was that, in view of crime related issues that were there in terms of social vices, I decided to come up with activities that would bring the youth together, to give them hope and open the door for them to get jobs and maybe create a good future for themselves.
Kenyanstar: What exactly made you drop football for racket games considering that in Kenya and Eastland specially is known for their love for football.
Mudibo: For me to drop football...There were a lot of things involved. One was that, you'd get injuries and coming from Eastland, people didn't know how to treat those injuries. In those days, football was being used in a way, to eradicate societal problems. But later on I discovered that maybe football wasn't my sport. That Table Tennis was my sport. And as you grow, you might need to decide what you want. You try different kinds of activities and my heart settled for Table Tennis. But it doesn't mean that I have left football out of my heart. The other day when Hussein Mohammed was doing his campaign for football (presidency), I was deeply involved in his candidature and at that time he became popular. And before that, through Media Plus, I was handling Harambee Stars through sponsorship. So issues of football and sports in general have largely been in my blood throughout. And leaving football doesn't mean that I have left it out completely. No! I am still involved in it in some way or the other. For example, I mentor people like Francis Kimanzi whom I grew up with. He's learnt a lot from me. A part from that, we are also the pioneers of Mathare Youth Sports Association. So it is a whole lot of experience that I have been able to come through.
Kenyanstar: What's your take on the future of Table Tennis in Kenya?
Mudibo: Right now I would say the future is very bright. If the structures that we started putting in place continue, then in the next three to four years, Table Tennis will be able to stand out among the leading sports, not only in Kenya but in Africa. Right now we've just put in part of the structures that are supposed to be there and everybody, even internationally are taking note of what is happening Kenya. What we are trying to brush off is making sure that... people still believe that everything is done through a president of a federation. It has to be a team work. And team work means you must work with existing structures. That is what we've been fighting for because each one has got its own structure and those structures must stand alone. In the late 50s or early 60s, when the Railways was coming to Kenya, Table Tennis was one of the leading sports in this this region. The Goan and White people were playing Table Tennis. You'd have Posta and Telekom playing. Now, as we moved on, the structures were not put in place. For us, those structures must be there and that's one of the key areas we are working on. When you are developing a sport, many people look at the winning bit but for us it is not about winning. It is about the structures that will support what is happening that is important. If you don't have those structures then you have a problem. The sport will not grow.
Kenyanstar: Besides being the boss of Table Tennis in the country, you are also the President of Africa Zone V region. That is 14 countries under your watch. How do you juggle your time and what are you doing improve the standard of the sport in this region?
Mudibo: Right now, Zone v is called Eastern region. The Africa Union changed how Africa is divided. Previously we had Egypt in our region but now they are out. It's true I've got a total of 14 countries in my region. What is important is that you cannot carry everything on your shoulders. For you to be able to succeed, you need to delegate. You need to delegate different aspects of it. And you need to trust people who are around you. The people you relate with in various capacities. Those are people you need to trust and work with. And you need to give them that opportunity because if you end up that you want to do everything alone, then chances are you are going to fail because you've not built a team that can work.
Kenyanstar : Talking about building a team, what is your take on Kenyan Sports in terms of administration and governance?
Mudibo: We can divide Kenyan sports into two: We can look at the playing bit and administration. I have absolutely no problem with the playing bit because that's an area that can be corrected. But the major area where all the focus need to go to is the administration. Based on the structures and governance surrounding each federation and offices is that we've been operating in a more "jua kali" casual way which has got no set formula. For example, like my case, I was a sports person. Then I came into leadership, but I have not undergone any formal training in terms of being able to be an administrator. Those are the areas that need to be addressed. When, for example, you look at the National Olympic Committee, whatever we are seeing is just part of the problem that is there. It is not just about Rio Games. The issues are quite wide range.
You cannot tell me that right now we've got Oliech (Dennis), we've got Wanyama (Victor) and his brother, Mariga (McDonald) but we can't get more payers coming in to that rank. Again it doesn't mean that money can only be found outside Kenya. Money can be found here, in sports. If the betting firms are making billions from Kenyans in betting then that's something we need to re look in terms of how we are operating as officials. And whatever is happening at Nock, is a generational change that has come and that change has to happen. For me it is time for a new generation in sports leadership.
Whatever that was there at Nock before are traditional ways of how things were operating whereby if something is wrong you'd sit down and pat your colleague on the back and say, ”you know we are sportsmen. We don't do one-two-three. Let's put this thing under the rug." But the world has changed. Nowadays it's an issue touching on good governance. It's an issue touching on transparency. It's an issue touching on how you develop players to be the best because right now, sports is an industry.
Kenyanstar: Still on good governance, do you think the big Brothers like Rugby, Athletics and even football which until recently were rocked with some internal wrangle - have anything to be emulated by their younger brothers in terms of leadership? Also the age factor has been used severally by those seeking leadership positions to kick out the incumbent simply because they are ‘old’ but we don't look at the track record or even the integrity of the youthful leader who want to come in?
Mudibo: That's why I said there is a problem. For example, how do you lead? If people do not trust those around them, then those fights will always continue. And I think that one thing people do not understand is that, we need to look at how to make them to feel comfortable so that they feel that they are still loved and wanted in the society. It is not just a matter of kicking them out and ignoring them. It's a matter of making them to be comfortable and be part of what is there. You cannot throw out the old generation simply because we are saying the young ones have to come in. We must be able to get that institutional history coming in by working with the old people to be able to improve each and every step that is there. Along the way, they learnt what was wrong and it is now for us to be able to learn from them. How do you correct and reinforce the shortfall that was there. At the end of the day, it must be a team effort between the old and the young.
Kenyanstar: You are viewed by some as this tough guy. Street man if I may say. Some say you are rude. Some say you have a big network and that you are connected to the high and mighty. Does your connection have an influence in your character?
Mudibo: I will leave it to the people who are judging me. There are some who say I am a Saint. There are some who look up to me, like my son. He would look up to me like a good father. But it depends on how people relate with you. When you say some say I am a hard headed person and all that, it depends in what area. It is very easy to paint somebody in a negative way but let's look at the work that is being done. Is the work being done in the right way or not? Are the actions that have been taken right or wrong? Are you able to fault me on the work that has been done or not? If you can be able to get a fault me in any of the above areas, then I think those faults need to be addressed. We all know that all of us are human. If Jesus was abused and the President can be abused, who said that I cannot be abused? Even you, Elvince, at your place of work, not everybody will love you and that is part of life. That is something by the time you realise that that's it, then you'll be able to do a lot with your life. That's why I am saying, we need to get out of those small excuses and look at the bigger picture. Let's address issues about Kenyan sports. All of us can never be the same and how I handle the pressure is not the same way how you'll handle it.
And when you talk about knowing the high and mighty, those high and mighty are our leaders. If you do the right thing, God opens the doors for you. For me, I am a saved Christian and I believe in God. Most of the fights or challenges that are there, God is the one who guides me on how I approach issues and have them resolved. If I was somebody you cannot work with, somebody who is rude and all that, I don't think I would have made it to the position where I am today, in leadership and even business. I would not be here today.
Kenyanstar: Recently during the National Olympic Committee of Kenya extraordinary meeting, we saw quite an embarrassing scenes. A scuffle between you and Paralympic boss Agnes Oluoch who accused you of ‘micromanaging’ the ongoing Nock elections process. What exactly happened behind the camera lenses? And are you eying any seat at Nock?
Mudibo: The only thing I can say about Agnes is that her attack on me was personal. The attack happened outside the meeting itself. The meeting had ended and in that regard that it is a personal matter. It is like if I leave this interview and walk out to the streets and am attacked, it doesn't become a sports issue. That remains a personal matter which has got nothing to do with sports. I reported the matter to the Police and I believe she is supposed to appear in court and take a plea. I'll leave it at that because this is a matter before a court of law and I wouldn't want to comment on an issue in court.
For now, the first bridge that we need to cross is on the side of the Constitution. If the Constitution is adopted the way it is, then definitely Yes, I will be vying for a seat and I will reveal which position I'll be going for at the right time.
Kenyanstar: Thank you so much for your time and all the best.
Mudibo : You are welcome.
Mudibo has since announced that he will be vying for NOCK's Secretary General Post. The interview was conducted the Clarion Hotel.
He is soft spoken. A man of few words but with an overflowing pot of humor. Japheth Munala, the Kenya Pipeline head coach is a man on a mission; to transform the Kenya Volleyball scene. His humility and dedication to his work has seen him record great success with both his club, Kenya Pipeline with whom he has lifted three consecutive league titles. He also assisted the national women's team, christened Malkia Strikers to their first international title when Kenya wrote history thousands of kilometers away by lifting the FIVB World Grand Prix in Australia in 2015. Munala also uses his free time to give back to the society. He shares his skills with grassroots coaches and upcoming volleyball players in High Schools. His effort has since been rewarded when he guided three different Schools to both the national and regional School stages.
K.S: Thank you coach for your time. Just walk us through your first contact with Volleyball.
Munala: I started playing volleyball while in School. Musingu Boys High School. I feared going for cross country and i would hide among volleyball players. The captain saw my height and convinced me to stop running and concentrate on volleyball. I excelled so fast and before the end of that year i was in the starting lineup. While in form four, i took the team to the nationals. That's how I begun playing volleyball.
K.S: So how was the transition after high school?
Munala: That was in Form Four. I went back for Form Five and Six in the same School. While playing for the School, I joined a club, MOW of Kakamega. I played for both the school team and Club and when I cleared form Six, I moved to MOW on full basis and stayed with them for three months. I then switched to Kenya Ports Tele Communication (KPTC) in 1988. That was a branch volleyball club of KPTC. After one year in Kakamega, I was transfered to the headquarters in Nairobi where the senior team was based. I remember they were the national champions for very many years. They saw me play in Kakamega then transfered me to the bigger club, Posta men where I played until I retired.
K.S: What was your most memorable moment as a player and what are some of the achievement you can point out during your time at Posta?
Munala: The most memorable day was when I played for Posta for the first time. We had good players in the team then and It wasn't easy for anyone especially a new and upcoming player to get a slot in the starting line up. When I got the starting role, I never looked back. I held that position (left attacker), up until I retired from the team in 2007. Unfortunately I never played for the national team. I was called several times but I never made it to the final squad. We won the national title with Posta severally. We were the national champions for more than 10 years in a row. We also won KICOSO games and we finished third at the Africa Club championships, the first time a Kenyan team finished in the medal bracket at the continental stage. Only Kenya Prisons (men) has done better than that when they finished second in 2013.
K.S: You must have had some bad luck there with the national team. Sorry about that. So then how did you transit from the court to the bench?
Munala: While still playing, I went for a coaching course in 1997. I was still very active as a player but i needed to have the certificate with me. So i went for Level 1- coaching course and got the necessary papers. I continued playing until 2005 when I started doubling up as a coach-player, still with Telecom. I actually started as a player-trainer then coach-player. After I got retired from Posta, I took coaching as a career in 2008. I started with the Telkom in division two and took them to division one. I later left Telkom for Kenya Commercial Bank as assistant coach to Paul Bitok. When he (Bitok) left for Rwanda, I took over the team as the head coach. We won the league that year with KCB, finished second in Africa (Club Championship). In 2011, Pipeline saw me and that's where I am to-date.
K.S: What are some of the challenges facing the growth of women's volleyball in Kenya?
Munala: When we joined volleyball, i would say there was shortage of players but some of us took up the challenge as coaches to go back to Schools and nurture players. Currently, there are a lot of players coming through from Schools. The only major challenge is the few number of clubs which is not enough to absorb the growing number of talent coming out of High School. For a very long time Schools have played the role of feeder to various clubs in this country. What I can say is that there is no shortage of players now but we have a shortage of the number of clubs, especially for women.
My wish and appeal is to corporate bodies, the private firms to come in to Volleyball. We should have more institutional clubs which should be able to employ these players so that we can have transition from Schools to club volleyball. Otherwise the four clubs in the women's top division are not enough to take in the big number of players coming from School. I would challenge corporate institutions to form clubs that will absorb all these talents being wasted.
K.S: Talking about Schools, we've seen you working very closely with quite a number of institutions. Why so and do you do it for monetary gain?
Munala: Not at all. Money is not the driving factor. I started with Malava Girls when they had absolutely no impact in School volleyball. There were only two schools then - Lugulu Girls and Mukumu. Those two schools were very good in Volleyball. So Malava came nowhere near them. I started with Form Ones and by the time they got to Form Two, they were the champions in Western Province. Until the time I left, they were the champions East Africa.
Then I went to Kwanthanze Secondary in Machakos County. In my first year with Kwanthanze, they finished fifth. The second year they came third and the third year they finished in position one, both at Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) and East Africa School games. After Kwanthanze I went to Soweto Secondary. Soweto is a very small School from Kibera slums. Not known in Volleyball but after one year stay with them, Soweto became the Nairobi and Metropolitan regional champions. Then they finished second in both the national and East Africa. So those are the achievement I can point out at school level. I can say that the majority of young players in Kenya Volleyball today, about 70 percent have passed through my hands as a coach of schools. I've seen them grow. In fact, majority of them are now coming up to the national team ranks. This is an initiative that every coach in Kenya volleyball should take up. That way, we may not lack volleyball players in future.
K.S: Coach thanks so much for doing a lot to bring up young layers. Kenya has dominated continental volleyball for the last two decades. Unfortunately, that is not the same case when we cross over to the international stage. As the national team coach, what would you say is the biggest difference between Kenyan Volleyball and the rest of the world.
Munala: The biggest challenge I would say is lack of basic skills from our players. That has been the biggest undoing whenever we play outside the continent. But if all coaches would go back to the grassroots to start teaching these basics straight away from School, I think we'll go far at the international stage. But I am thankful that we've made some progress in the last few years and made impact at the international level.
K.S: We've seen your success with both the national team, at Club and even School level, as a coach. Besides your achievement with Schools, you have won the national title three times in a row with Kenya Pipeline and several accolades with Malkia Strikers. Unfortunately, during your time as a player you were not this successful. How did you turn it around, to be this successful on the bench?
Munala: As a coach you have to be very committed. You have to instill discipline in players, whether it's at School or club level then push it. Becoming the national coach has given me a lot of experience. I've traveled the world, I have seen how other players are playing and how other coaches are conducting themselves and I have learnt a lot in terms of drills to give to the players.
What worries me is the lack of support Sports receives from the government. For example, our main undoing at the international stage is the poor reception. About 99 percent of our league matches are played outside. This shouldn't be the case. The way you receive the ball in the gym is totally different from the way you receive the ball in a windy environment outside. Outside there, volleyball is played in the gym. In Kenya we only have one standard gym for volleyball which is shared by every body, including politicians. I thought the county government would help us by constructing more Gyms. If only the county government would construct at least 20 gymnasium for indoor sports, then we would be far. I don't know what happened along the way and we are still waiting for somebody to come to our rescue (laughter)
K.S: What is your obsession with young players?
Munala: The way to go is to give young players a chance. For continuity of the sport, you have to at least have that generation, the old and young. Every coach should strike to have at least two or three young players in his or her team at any given time. If you rely solely on old players you may find yourself in a very awkward situation. Old players will 'cheat' you that they are on form but when they step on the field, they tire very fast.
K.S: What are some of the challenges you face as a coach specifically as someone who works with female players?
Munala: Very difficult. Coaching women is very difficult. You have to understand each and everyone of them. You have to understand their mood especially when they are on their menses. But the most important bit is, as a coach you should never date a player. The moment you do that they will stop listening to you and that's the last thing you want as a coach. There is also the issue of pregnancy coming in when you least expect it. Your best player leaves for maternity and you have to devise ways of filling the gap. These are the issues we battle with as women's team coaches. For example my employer will not understand why i lost a match because of the absence of one or two players. But the truth is, the team can be completely weakened due to unavailability of that one player. Its never easy coaching women.
K.S: Back to your achievements if you don't mind. We've seen you dominate the local volleyball scene for the last three years with Kenya Pipeline, something that usually guarantees you an automatic ticket to the Africa Club championship. This title has eluded you for the last five years. Currently you are preparing for that very event. Is this the right time for Pipeline to win their first continental title in over a decade?
Munala: If there is any stressful moment for a coach, it is during club championship and national playoff. It gives me sleepless nights. Long nights because you don't know in which pool you are going to land. Whether it is going to be friendly to you or not. Club Championships are a headache to any coach. It has eluded me several times since 2011 and now we are goin to 2017. I hope God will give it to me this time round. I've done my best, we've tried everything and I hope we are going to do well in Tunisia.
K.S: Finally, as a coach, what do you consider when signing a player, height or skills? And is Volleyball all about height?
Munala: What I can say is that height is an added advantage in Volleyball. But again, you can be tall but lack the jump. Volleyball is nothing but to have a powerful jump. If you have a powerful jump then height is an advantage, even better for a player. You should have a moderate height or above medium. But if you are tall and have the jump, then that's the ideal player every coach will be looking to have in his team.
K.S: Thanks so much coach for your time.
The interview was conducted at the Kasarani indoor Arena during Kenya Pipeline training ahead of the 2017 Africa club championship.
Fredrick Otieno is a skating hero, a national hero, he rehabilitates street children through skating . Currently the National Coach for the Speed Skating National team, Fred says this is a position he got courtesy of his programs with the skating club he founded; The Nairobi Sprint Skating Club. A student at the Kampala University taking a degree course in Community development, Fred is our Kenyanstar of the week and he opened up to Kenyanstar on the challenges facing skating as a sport and how he uses it to rehabilitate street children..
She draws both admiration and hate in equal measure. Some would call her the Margaret Thatcher of Kenyan football - a fearless leader who takes on anything and anyone. From a stern critic of the previous administration, she now is at the helm of the club she holds dear to heart.
Like most of the previous Kenyan Stars interviewed on this column have correctly noted, poor infrastructure and insufficient youth programs stand in the way of sports excellence in Kenya. In all if not most sports, we compete against countries who introduce their sports people to the game at a very early stage. That is why this week, Our Kenyan Star of the week, Nicholas Macharia, who runs a football academy under the banner of Ambassadors Football Club and supported by the International Christian Church at Nairobi's Imara Daima estate.
As Ken Odero asks on his blog, Was Mathew Ottamax’s career a case of bloated ego, unfulfilled potential or was he just misunderstood? The story of Mathew Ottomax is about a man who played for the 2 biggest clubs in Kenya, won a league title with each of them, played for the national team and left at his peak.' Mathews Owino ‘Ottamax’, who is currently a goalkeeper trainer, is our Kenyanstar of the week.
KS: Mathews to start us off, to which club do you swear your allegiance between the two Kenyan giants Gor-Mahia and AFC leopards?
Well first of all it is important to state that I'm currently a goalkeeper trainer at Nakumatt FC even though we are yet to formalize this engagement. That having been said, Nakumatt played Leopards in a friendly match the other day and it was evident from the reception i got that the leopards still have a lot of love for me. This feeling is mutual because tribal factors aside, even my friends at Gor-Mahia know i have always had AFC at heart so yes, AFC Leopards it is.
KS: How easy or difficult was it to make the switch from Gor-Mahia to AFC leopards?
I wouldn't say it was a difficult decision because at the time there were wrangles at Gor-Mahia and when Leopards came knocking even my core support agreed that for the sake of my career I'd be much better off at The Den.
KS: Tell us how your story began, and how you rose to these heights?
How i started was more accidental. I had been sent to the shops by my mum so on my way back i found two teams just about to start playing football. One of the teams didn't have a goalkeeper so they asked me to hold brief for them in goal. I was going to decline but they went ahead to take my 'slippers' and use them as makeshift goal posts. So then it seemed reasonable to me that being the temporary goalkeeper would also be an opportunity for me to guard my slippers so no one would steal them. That was the beginning.
KS: So you became a goalkeeper for this team...
I enjoyed the match that day and hence forth I would make a point to go play in the goal whenever there was one of those matches in the neighborhood. I thought it was a good break from spending most of my time in the house. I joined MYSA in its early years of foundation and I developed well through the ranks. I even had a chance to represent Kenya at the Under 14 level but missed as the match would be played when we were travelling with MYSA to our first Norway Cup.
KS: When was your big break?
KS: How did it happen?
I was in high school, in form one and i had trouble paying my school fees so i was sent home. I opted to pass time by joining the Re-Union training Camp. At that time Peter Kenneth was the Chairman. He came to me and asked why i wasn't in school and i explained. He asked me who pays my school fees and i told him it was my mum. He then took up my school fees from then till when i finished schooling. In return i would play for Re-Union.
KS: Did playing opportunities come at Re-Union?
It looked like i would have to wait for a long time. The first choice goalkeeper for Re-Union then was the legendary Mohamud Abbas who also doubled as the team manager. His number two in goal was one Charles Bushira. But there was this one time senior players went on strike due to unpaid allowances so the team officials had to quickly assemble a team that would honor the weekend matches. Like many of the players for that weekend, i was picked up in school on Thursday and told i would be playing over the weekend. Those days we played two matches every weekend. I soaked in six goals in my first two matches for Re-Union that weekend. We played Bata Bullets on Saturday and lost 3-2, on Sunday we played AFC Leopards and lost 3-0. But from then on we stabilized and that is how i started playing regular football.
KS: Mathews, you were in the AFC Leopards team that last won the league in 1998. What do you think Leopards need to do to bring back their glory days?
I think they need to cut down on politics or probably get one strong leader. Our days we had one Peter Onalo who ran the club with an iron fist. Over the past few seasons including 2016, AFC leopards have been assembling some of the best squads in the league but the politics at the club does not give them a chance to compete on the pitch.
KS: What is the difference between your days and now?
Of course there was a bit of stability, but the biggest difference is the money factor. During our days there wasn't a lot of money.
KS: Let us talk about Kenya vs Djibouti...
I saw this coming...
KS: Kenya won the tie 9-1 on aggregate. But that one goal, did you intentionally allow it to go in?
No, it was just a combination of genuine mistake and bad luck. We dominated Djibouti and as a way of keeping me in the game the defenders kept playing back passes to me. The goal moment was bad luck and a miss kick because my shoe got a bit held by the tall grass at the stadium.
KS: Who is that one striker that always gave you sleepless nights during your playing days?
Allow me to name several please. There is Nick Yakhama, The late Steve Okumu and Elkana Swaka
KS: Which do you consider your most memorable match?
When we played Nigeria Under-23. Most Kenyans didn't watch that match. It ended in a goalless draw and i was named man of the match. I think I was the first and among very few Kenyan goalkeepers who have gone to Nigeria and Kept a clean sheet.
KS: What do you make of the current status of football in Kenya?
It is in shambles. * See we don't even know when the league will kick off. I think football administrators have no consideration of players who are a key component of the game.
KS: Compared to your playing days do you think we are making progress?
Yes! There is progress. We have seen some of our top players play for top European clubs and this is something that will open doors for other Kenyans. We also saw the other day KPL players get some exposure in a match against Hull City FC courtesy of Sportpesa and yes there is increasing inflow of corporates sponsoring football in various categories. All this i think is progress.
KS: Tell us about your time at Gor-Mahia as Goalkeeper trainer.
Basically i joined Gor-Mahia technical bench at around the same time Frank Nuttal was hired. I understand, or was made to believe that the club was going through some financial difficulties at this time and there was a lot of pressure on us to deliver, and we did deliver including winning the league in 2015 unbeaten. Coincidentally, that same year I went the entire season with no pay. Once in a while i would be given small amounts of money and requested to be understanding since the club had no money. Lastly it is important to say that i didn't leave Gor-Mahia, I was forced out. I was told the coach had said he didn't want to work with me.
KS: How could you work with no pay? Was it just you or all other members of the technical bench?
Mostly me and the assistant coach. I think our services were abused and not appreciated but personally for me i do this for the love of the game and for the players I train.
KS: Because of careful management of their image rights sports people earn from product endorsements during and long after their playing time. How have you faired in this regard?
I got endorsements with Guinness beer in my playing days and I’m glad to say this has been picking up in the industry for instance we have the case of Oliech and Betways.
KS: Who do you think are the top three Kenyan goalkeepers currently?
Arnold Origi, Boniface Oluoch and Patrick Matasi in that order. I particularly think Origi has been very disciplined and hard working.
KS: Some people say you are arrogant with a bloated ego. Do you feel the same way about yourself?
My character is that I'm always myself and I'm not a Yes man. It lands me in trouble a lot of times but i don't shy away from airing my views.
KS: Your social media outbursts, aren't they doing some harm to your image?
Probably yes but i do not intend to stop. It is who I am. If i feel pinched i need to find a way to say I have been pinched and with technology, social media is one of those avenues.
KS: There have been accusations that you have a drinking problem...
The accusations have been that i go to training drunk which i can tell you today it's not possible. I respect my job and sometimes i leave the house at 5am to arrive at the training ground on time especially the days we start off at 8. Those are rumors maliciously spread by my detractors. I'm an adult and yes i indulge but responsibly, mostly after the training sessions.
KS: What was your Relationship with coach Ze Maria?
Largely we had a good relationship save for a few instances which is normal. Ze-maria is a very good coach and i respect him but he is the one with a bad ego compared to what they say i have. In my opinion he does not respect Kenyans football wise.
KS: Tell us about the 2010 derby match that you tried to stop...
What happened at that match was very unfortunate. I wasn't trying to stop it in bad faith, I was just trying to get some attention from everyone to what really mattered; people's lives. That was the first floodlight derby match if I'm not wrong and it had rained the entire afternoon. People had over indulged. I had come with my family and i pre-warned them the scenes weren't so good. The match had just started when i gained entry into the stadium via the VIP area but i could see fans struggling at the first terrace gate, others being stumbled on. It looked really bad. I tried to bring it to the attention of the police officers but they didn't seem bothered. I requested the Gor-Mahia bus driver to ferry some of those fans to hospital but he said he would need permission from his employers. I approached Carol Radul but i saw she was on set so there was little i could do. In that moment Gor-Mahia had been awarded a free kick so i decided i would go have the referee stop the match until the victims of the stampede had been taken care of. I was already on the pitch but before the referee could spot me the stewards were all over me with blows. It was a sad day.
KS: Why don't we have more Kenyan goalkeepers going to play professional say in Europe?
I think we do not believe in ourselves then we find an excuse in form of the perception that European clubs do not sign African goalkeepers but look at Idrissa Kameni (from Cameroon) and tell me if that is true.
KS: Did you ever get a chance to play in Europe yourself?
Yes i had an invitation to play in Sweden but had a hitch in my Visa application process so it did not materialize.
KS: Why did you leave the Harambee Stars technical bench?
What i saw at Harambee Stars was very disheartening. It wasn't good for football. Football is much more than what I saw in the national team. Mental preparedness and facilities are very key if we are to be competitive in our football.
KS: What is your parting shot to your fans and readers of Kenyanstar?
I just want to thank them for staying true to the game and always supporting the players and teams in general.
* - The Interview was conducted a few days before the release of KPL 2017 season fixtures. The fixtures are now out and we know the first matches will be played on the 11th of March.
Born in Western Kenya, 60 year old Richard Omwela studied at Kakamega High School before pursuing a law degree at the University of Nairobi. While at the University he did not make the grade to play Rugby due to the School back ground. Omwela headed the Kenya Rugby Union for close to 8 years between 2003 and 2011, a period within which Kenyan Rugby grew to unprecedented heights. For his contribution to the game, Richard Omwela is our Kenyanstar of the week ...
KS: Who is Richard Omwela?
I'm a 60 years old Kenyan, born in Western Kenya. I schooled at Kakamega High School and proceeded to study law at the University of Nairobi. I'm a lawyer by profession and for the last 37 years i have been practicing corporate law. I'm a partner at Hamilton Harrison and Mathews previously the Managing partner. I'm also the current Chairman of the Kenya Rugby Union.
KS: What is your story with Rugby?
I followed Rugby from my University days and was at the University of Nairobi when the University team Mean machine was formed. I came from a football background in High school, back in those days Kakamega High School was primarily a football giant and not so much ruby. When i got to the University of Nairobi I had to be content with watching from the side lines as there were better, more established players from Rugby playing schools such as Nairobi and Lenana so i did not make the grade. In terms of managing the sport, i joined Impala club as a member of the club when i finished my university studies but between 1991 and 1995 I served as the chairman of the club. That is how i joined Rugby administration because Impala was then as it still is a Rugby playing club among other sports. It is from this that i got into Rugby initially as a director in charge of Fund raising because of my corporate background. I moved on to become secretary of the union them moved on to become chairman of the Union. It was always felt that because of my corporate background i would help fund raise for the union.
KS: And how did the fund raising go? Did your leadership help?
Pretty well i would say, initially our targets were very low, just about Ksh 10 million to run the sport every year as compared to now where we are looking at annual budgets of close to Ksh 500 Million. And yes i believe my leadership helped especially in corporate governance, introducing structures and generating an interest in the game. Back in the day we would call for an AGM and only a handful of people would show up and we would divide the available roles but now we have actual competitive elections. I have always looked at how much i can give to the game in terms of my expertise and time resources as opposed to how much i can get from it and I believe my contribution to the sport has been immense especially by putting in place structures that would outlive us when we leave management of the sport to others.
KS: That is interesting Mr. Omwela considering in the last election you campaigned on the platform of 'Coming back to clean the mess that had been created'. Are the structures not strong enough?
The structures we have been continually putting in place are the reason our Rugby got a chance for another two years of good leadership and are the reason why there will always be a chance to make amends when things go wrong. The unfortunate thing, and it applies to the country at large, is that while we have very many able Kenyans, most of them shy away from positions of leadership. Some of those who offer themselves for leadership could be coming in for other reasons other than leadership Good leaders also need to take the initiative and step other than live in their glorious days. I believe we have a lot of credible people able to offer leadership post Omwela or post anyone else.
KS: What would you say is the current state of Rugby in Kenya?
Rugby has grown in leaps and bounds. You will find that in all counties in Kenya, Rugby is being played not just at club level but all the way from school level to Universities and colleges. So, the game has grown rapidly. The issue we have now is how to manage it because as the game expands we need competent officials, referees, coaches and even equipment and medical support. In those aspects we are lacking. Rugby is also playing a part in improving the Kenyan society values because of the discipline of the game. For instance we have an Under 10 program we run at the union in partnership with Shamas foundation. This program collects youth from Kibera and Kawangware and parents have observed that the youth who join this program have shown improved grades and personalities. This is mainly because of the discipline demanded of a rugby player and in the case of the youngsters also just being around successful individuals who play or manage rugby inspires them to do better in other spheres beyond the game.
KS: How would you say we rate against elite Rugby playing Nations like South Africa, England, Fiji and the likes?
We are far much behind the elite Rugby playing nations and we need to do much more to come close to them. These are countries playing fully professional rugby back in their local leagues while we depend on players who have different day jobs are in Colleges or have just left College.
KS: How long Mr. Omwela before we go fully professional?
There are deliberate efforts to fully professionalize our league. Clubs like Kabras, Impala, and Homeboyz are already moving towards that direction but a key set-back which the industry has been grappling with is the lack or insufficient corporate participation because a professional league is very expensive.
KS: One would imagine that with rapid growth of the game corporate organizations will be literary struggling to be associated with it. What seems to be holding them back?
There are two important factors we as administrators need to work on before we get full commitment from sponsors;
The first one is accountability and issues to do with corporate governance. Sponsors not only want to know how every single shilling they gave you was used, they also want to ascertain the monies they give are directed for the correct purpose and for the growth of the game. So the way you run the game has a bearing on if sponsors will come on board and our efforts over the years has won the confidence of people like KQ, Safaricom, EABL, Bamburi and most recently Sports Pesa.
The second is each sponsor wants a return on Investment so if they are putting money into the game what value worth of their money will they get back in terms of visibility and or publicity. Our league for instance is played over just seven months every year. This could have a bearing on when or if sponsors come on board because it is probably a short time for them to get value out the sponsorship But going forward we want to have a structured league where the main league can be supplemented by two other competitions so that whichever sponsor comes on board gets value across the year. So as we continue to professionalize our game these are some of the issues we have to look at.
KS: Has KRU and the various clubs under it complied with the Sports Act?
Not 100%, it is still work in progress but the intention is that by 2018 all the clubs plus the union will have complied fully. The union will be having an AGM in the coming month [March] and one of the agenda items will be to review our progress so far in complying with the Act. Some clubs have complied in some of the aspects like changing their constitution to have a 4 year circle for leadership instead of a one year circle...
KS: Why is that particular one Important? Having a four year term instead of a one year term?
It is important because it allows the organization in question more time to concentrate on the sport which is the most important thing. If you keep it at one year then for a half of the year the people in office are thinking about re-election and the sport suffers....
KS: Does the four year term then completely fixes this?
Not entirely because you still lose considerable amount of time with people politicking. At rugby we are looking at a possibility of a succession plan where you have the Chairman and probably 1st and 2nd Vice Chairmen with a clear structure of who will be chairman after the incumbent and so the union leadership definite and known even for the next several years. This will allow more time to be invested into the sport itself.
KS: Will you be defending your position in the upcoming elections?
Yes! I will vie again to serve one last term as the chairman. But I'm not campaigning. I want clubs to look at the work we have done vote us in or out based on that. I think as a sport we are in a position where we can make decisions based on tangible evidence and not mere rhetoric.
KS: What is the union’s plan for Infrastructure?
Currently our best bet is having the government come good on its promise because the President of the Republic of Kenya HE Uhuru Kenyatta promised us a rugby stadium on our return from Singapore but if they don't then we will have to explore other options.
KS: Is it the government's responsibility to put up this infrastructure? What role does the union play in ensuring it happens?
Look, the government did build Kasarani and Nyayo stadium for football, the county government further built City stadium but for football yet again so it is not so much to ask that they do one for Rugby and Cricket for that matter we also pay taxes as a sport so why should all the resources be channeled to one sport that has produced no known result over the years?
KS: So if the government doesn't come good on this promise?
Of course it has always been on the table for us. We had plans in 2011 to acquire the Ligi Ndogo grounds and combined with the KRFU, our main grounds then we would put up a standard facility including some bed and parking capacity, we had even already set aside some Ksh. 45 Million for this project. We had entered into an Agreement for buying Ligi Ndogo grounds and paid a deposit. Unfortunately there was a change of leadership and consequently a change of thinking around this project so we lost the opportunity. If it is to come up again then we will probably look at a partnership with the County Government of Mombasa to put up a Rugby stadium.
KS: Why Mombasa? Have you already engaged them?
No, Not yet! But it would be our best shot if we ever want to get on the World Rugby 7s circuit.
KS: Wasn't Safari Sevens meant for inclusion on the World Rugby 7s circuit?
Safari Sevens is a great competition by the idea to submit a bid for its inclusion on the World Rugby 7s circuit was not well thought out. It was never going to make it for various reasons; For starters the hosting city needs to have a five star bed capacity of at least 20,000. Nairobi doesn't have that so our best bet is probably Mombasa combined with Diani and Malindi and they will still be strained. Secondly, you need not only have a standard rugby pitch for the main competition but also a second one for the women and several others for training. We are not anywhere close to these requirements. Lastly, the current thinking around World Rugby is to host all the legs of the circuit in low altitude cities so there is no possible way our high altitude Nairobi will have a chance unless this thinking changes. So if it were me i would not even submit that bid.
KS: Why do you think the number of fans attending the Safaricom Sevens has dwindled over the years?
It is a combination of factors and especially for last year's event. First is competition with other sports specifically motor sport which was on the same weekend. Second is the location, Kasarani you would admit is on 'the other side of town' with respect to majority of Rugby fans in the city and creates some sort of an inconvenience and lastly is the reduced level of Safaricom sponsorship. Previously the sponsorship included marketing the event through their various platforms but that was not the case last year so the event publicity suffered. Obviously we should have done a lot more for publicity but it's a lesson we learnt and have already put in place a committee for this year's event.
KS: Is this a pointer we will not be going back to Kasarani for Safari Sevens this year?
We cannot rule out Kasarani but we need to look at other ooptions. Nyayo Stadium is one of them. Part of the reason why we have been having it at Kasarani is the Safaricom was the main Sponsor of the Stadium and it made no sense to take it elsewhere. We understand that has now changed.
KS: Shall we see the return of the Bamburi Rugby Super Series?
The super series was a competition for regional Franchise teams in Kenya and Uganda sponsored by Bamburi mainly because their business covered these countries. The super series can of course make a comeback albeit with a bit of modifications but first we are sourcing for a sponsor because it is expensive to manage these franchises. The potential sponsor candidates are corporate organization with countrywide product reach and with that respect we have considered and engaging people like Bidco and others. It was a very good competition because from it we got teams like Western Bulls which has come up very strongly.
KS: What are the union's top three priorities over the next five years?
The first is to put up a high performance center. A piece of infrastructure that can comfortably host an international tournament without the limitations i mentioned earlier like Bed Capacity, Training facilities and even parking space.
The Second is to have a fully functional secretariat with regional branches all over the country and effectively institute some supporting structures to manage the game throughout the country so we won't have to always dispatch resources human and material to various parts of the country when needed.
The third is to develop further our national squads, both the Sevens and the Fifteens. We missed out narrowly in the last world cup but we are hoping to qualify for 2019 one. So you will notice we are putting a lot of emphasis on the junior teams and giving them more game time because in the near future we shall require them to step up.
KS: Tell us about the Kenya Rugby Limited.
The idea behind Kenya Rugby Limited was to have a company that is fully owned by the union to run the business aspect of the game, while allowing the union to deal with the game itself. It did not and still does not feel prudent to have the union involve itself in the business matters of the sport. The union's core function is to run the sport, not the business associated with the sport. Things like jerseys would be sold by the company not the union. Back then I had Kenya Rugby Limited running the Safari Sevens as an independent entity.
KS: What steps has the union taken to make the game safer especially following the recent deaths of several Rugby players?
That is a very unfortunate thing that has been happening. We have sent our condolences to the affected families and I did convene and chair a meeting with all club representatives to discuss the matter. We made some resolutions that every club must take the responsibility to know the health status of their players and recheck the same on a quarterly basis just to ensure we are not risking anyone's life. We have also instructed the match officials to be keen and ensure that for the case of injuries the match must be stopped for the affected players to get medical attention. If the player is concussed then he must not come go back to the field of play. Such a player must undergo treatment and take leave from the game for at least two weeks. And finally we are also calling out to all players to be conscious of their personal health status and not risk their life.
KS: Has the union outlined any sanctions or penalties for any parties that do not adhere to these recommendations.
We have a team working on that but need a buy in from Clubs and players.
KS: What challenges do you think Kenyan Rugby is facing?
The three main challenges are poor infrastructure, insufficient resources to effectively manage the growth of the game and relatively low uptake by sponsors. We don't have enough match officials, coaches and even qualified medical personnel and I encourage more Kenyans not only to train for these functions but also to come forward when these positions are advertised.
KS: What do you make of the teams participation at the Rio Olympics?
There were some failures on our part but this was also an epic failure on the part of NOCK. On our part I think we had a poor team selection. On NOCK's part they did not consult and were failing even on the very basics. For instance if they would have consulted us then the rugby teams would not have camped in Nandi which is a high altitude area while we were going to play in a low altitude Rio. So while Nandi is a good training ground with good facilities especially for athletes, it was not the best preparation for our Rugby team. I also think our friends at NOCK are not giving attention to team sports especially when they look at the prospects of one man bringing back a medal vis-a-vis seven men bringing back the same medal. So i think we went to participate not to compete.
KS: What lessons do you think other sports federations in Kenya can learn from KRU?
Mainly it's improvement of their corporate governance. Some things that happen are very disheartening. The hitches with player visas and travel arrangement to a point where government has to fork out Ksh. 40 million to charter a plane like it happened in football the other day are all a reflection of poor corporate governance.
KS: What role do you think sports play in national cohesion?
Sports play a big part in National cohesion because when we go out there to play we win or lose as Kenya, not as a Mluhya or Luo or Kikuyu or any other tribe. It is always about Team Kenya. A good example to look at is South Africa and the 1995 Springboks winning team. Had that team not won then it would have been more difficult to hold that country together.
KS: Finally what would you like to tell Rugby fans in particular and Kenyans in general as your parting shot?
I want to assure all rugby fans and Kenyans in general that we will continue to do whatever we can to grow the game despite all the challenges. We have received enormous support from the country and we thank every single Kenyan for that. My phone never stops ringing every time we lose a match, with Kenyans asking what went wrong and commenting on the team selection. This is an indication that they follow our progress and we do not take it for granted.
We are still young and short in capacity but we have enormous talent. We are the only small country playing with the big boys but we hope and believe that Singapore wasn't an accident. We will win more.
Finally i want to call upon the Government of Kenya to support our efforts more because their support will go a long way in taking us several steps forward.
The news came to her at the start of February that she was to deliver a motivational talk to the young students of Nyakach High School deep in Nyanza's Nyabondo plateau. It was something the Kenya Pipeline Volleyball Team captain only dreamt of as a child.
Pauline Naise belongs to a different class, a rare one, with a few names ahead of her. A class of Kenyan stars who have represented the country at International level in two(or more) different sports, and have excelled at it. The likes J.J Masiga for Rugby and Football, Aasif Karim for Tennis and Cricket, Carl Tundo for Motorsport and Golf and Collins Omae for Rugby and Athletics.
Lawyer Ambrose Rachier has been Gor-Mahia football Club's chairman for close to 10 years, since 2008 and was given fresh mandate by the 'Green Army' in December 2016 to steer Kenya's most successful football club for another four years a period he believes will be his last term at the helm of the club. During his 10 years at Gor-mahia, and in particularly the last six seasons, Rachier has won the League three times and finished second in the other three making him the Kenya Premier League Limited Chairman for three straight years and Vice Chairman for the other three. Rachier has also tried on two occasions to ascend to football's top most office in the country but both attempts were unsuccessful. Ambrose Rachier gave an Interview for the Kenyanstar of the week column incidentally on the morning he was slapped with a ban by FKF for 'bringing the game to disrepute' ...
KS: In Brief for those who do not know you, who is Ambrose Rachier?
I'm a loyal Kenyan Citizen, 68 years old, a family man, a lawyer, Scholar, Teacher, Sports enthusiast, A fan of Gor-Mahia but most above all a leader... Of-course i tried my hand in politics but swore never to go back there after the lessons i learnt.
KS: How long have you been in football administration?
Since i took over Gor-Mahia leadership in 2008
KS: Let's talk about Gor-Mahia, You've been at the helm for a long time now, This is the 10th year i believe... Has it been a success story for you.
Gor-Mahia has had tremendous improvement! I Insist Tremendous improvement under my chairmanship and i can outline various areas where these improvements are there for all to see.
When i took over the club had just a handful of active fans and no funds at all. We now have a phenomenal return of the fans or what we like to call the green army and you can see, this in itself is a source of income for the club. We've also had a number of sponsors come on board since then, We've had Tuzo, Sportpesa and Crown Larger.
I took over when the club was narrowly escaping relegation, Our performance on the field of play has since improved and in the last six years we have either won the league or unluckily finished second. One of these league wins has been unbeaten the entire season.
We have improved corporate governance and introduced structures, we now have a fully fledged secretariat with a CEO running the club and we now hold well organized elections.
We have been steadily improving player welfare through better pay and simple things like a club bus to ease movement. We are also acting like a spring board, providing young players with opportunities to play in better leagues out of the country. You will remember George Odhiambo, Aucho, Olunga and most recently Erick Ouma.
Last but probably very key is that i helped in founding and setting up of the Gor-Mahia Sacco which is very key to the Gor-Mahia Family. The Fans, players and even officials can save funds and access credit facilities via the Sacco.
KS: Some people... most people agree and are happy with your record but they think you have steadied the ship and should allow someone else to sail it to harbor.
Of-course Samuel I'll not be Gor-Mahia Chairman forever, this is probably my last term and i still have a lot to offer a lot to offer especially if i get the tranquility in the last four years...
KS: What do you have up your sleeve? Say a five year plan...?
Three main things that need to be done...
For starters we plan to develop an academy and run a very solid youth team. Our football will go nowhere without investment in academies. There is no country in the world that has done well in football without investment in academies, even the much talked about Ghana National team they have been playing together from a very young age. The big players you hear about, the likes of Mesut Ozil and his Germany Teammates have been in academies from the age of five years.
Secondly i plan to launch a Gor-Mahia stadium project... And this is not just a stadium but a soccer village that will also include a residential area for our players and staff. So a player signing for Gor-Mahia would mean that among other things they get a house for the entire duration of their contract. Infrastructure is another very important necessity in football and unless we invest in Infrastructure we are headed nowhere.
Lastly i intended to put a lot of effort into player welfare at Gor-Mahia. Things like insurance cover should be include on the sign-up package for Gor-Mahia. Football is largely about the players so if we don't invest in them then we will have no football to enjoy.
All these are achievable and i intend to go forth with them, they are not just pipe dreams.
KS: When you say solid youth team, what does it mean with regard to what you currently have? The one that takes part in the KPL youth Tournament.
That is an Ad-hoc youth team that we recruit mainly from the schools and largely on a need basis. Most of the other times they are on their own. I talk of a youth team that will be part of the club with a substantial budget to run it. This will also lower our cost of recruitment because it is expensive to recruit players.
KS: Gor has done well locally over the past six years, twice near champions, then champions three times in a row, unlucky not to make it four but then, What is the secret? What ensures you stay at the top level?
I think it's good leadership, and not just from me but most of the people elected into office with me over the last years have shown great leadership so credit to all of us and also to those who have been electing.
KS: Having said that, Why isn't this performance not replicated in continental competitions? Fair to say not just by Gor-Mahia but by most Kenyan teams with few exemptions?
Thank you, that is a very important question and there are two reasons for it ...
First is our calendar. We need to align our calendar with all other major leagues. The thing is when continental competitions begin, most other leagues have been ongoing and are probably halfway while for us we haven't even started, we are just getting off pre-season. our teams are therefore playing teams that have already jelled and worked out functional formations. While not impossible, it is very difficult to win against a team that is already in rhythm while you are only starting.
Second, is lack of support from the federation. It is very expensive to compete in the continental competitions and support from the federation would go a long way. Federations in other countries support their clubs.
KS: You have been KPL Chair for three years, Vice Chair for another two and this year is your third as Vice Chair. The other chairmen on the council must also appreciate the challenge our calendar poses with regards to continental competitions, why hasn't this been fixed once and for all?
Because this is the responsibility of the federation.
KS: Mr. Rachier, What challenges do you face as the Chairman of Gor-mahia? What challenges does Gor-Mahia as a club face
There are three main challenges;
For starters finances are still a major challenge as we try to implement our programs and still compete effectively.
Secondly hooliganism is a big challenge for us in two ways. One because it endangers the lives players and peace loving fans and two because it hinders the growth of our fan base in terms of the actual fans who would like to come and support the team at the stadia.
The third challenge is the tendency by our fans to try and micromanage people they have elected into office. This is a big drawback to our corporate governance practices. Our fans need to be educated and to understand that when you give someone a job you have to allow them to do the judge them on the Results, Do not give someone a job and show them how to do it at every stage.... Why then did you give him or her the job in the first place?
KS: You mention Hooliganism, who does the back stop with?
The law enforcers. The police need to provide security, arrest the few hooligans masquerading as fans and have them pay with their time. Unfortunately even when these people are arrested they are allowed to walk the next day. The clubs don't own the stadium so it is difficult to task them with security.
KS: Most clubs only fire a non performing coach. A coach who can't win trophies for them. Gor-Mahia has parted ways with a few title winning coaches, One who won it unbeaten .....
Samuel, the circumstances are different for all of them for those we have fired over the last few years. I can mention a few cases without names. One, sometimes back we fired simply because he wasn't performing, Another one we lost to the National team so there was very little we could do and another one we fired on grounds of indiscipline mainly because in Cohort with a few fans he held the club at ransom with outrageous demands contrary to our agreement and contract. These kind of acts undermine our corporate governance efforts and we had to act promptly.
KS: In addition to not winning the league, does losing all three pre-season friendly matches so far pass as underperformance for Ze Maria? Should we expect to see him fired soon?
No you can't fire a coach because he's lost in pre-season friendly matches. Nonetheless I have had an elaborate meeting with the coach and he explained all these losses. He is still getting to understand our new players. In the first match he had just jetted in and very little training had taken place, In the second match it wasn't about winning, he actually played all the 26 players in that single match and in the third match, the one against the Ugandan side like i said this is a team playing in an ongoing league while we are still in preseason. We have however set target for the coach and we can only judge him or take action based on these targets.
KS: Is it a good or bad thing when Erick Ouma leaves Gor-Mahia for Georgia?
While i wish Erick all the best at his new club i still believe that this move is ill advised. In my opinion the best for him would have been to stick around, even if not at Gor-Mahia then locally for another one or two seasons to assert his game and probably attract better opportunities. One problem with our football is that we have people calling themselves agents who are not even registered and they are miss-advising these young boys. Sometimes you engage a player and the moment you invite him to take his sign-on fee he arrives with a bunch of people claiming to be his agents.
KS: Gor-Mahia has won the league three times in a row... We still see your matches with a stadium only quarter full, what will it take to have more people attending Gor Matches?
The main issues here are our calendar again and the hooliganism. We cannot ignore the fact that we are competing against elite leagues like the EPL, Bundesliga, Laliga and others. By the time our league starts all these league have gained momentum and it becomes very difficult to convince someone to forget about chelsea and come watch Gor-Mahia even if you get everything else right. It would be much fairer competition if our league started at the same time with all the others. And like i said with hooliganism still an issue then most would be fans would rather stay away from the stadium.
KS: AFC Leopards Vs Gor Mahia, is this rivalry just a fans conception? As the chairman of Gor-Mahia does it give you more pleasure when you win against Leopards than when you win against any other team?
Football cannot be sweet without a derby so yes there is a lot of Joy in winning against Leopards and a lot of sadness when they win against us.
KS: Talking of AFC Leopards, they are one of the biggest clubs in the country, why do you think they have been struggling in the past few years?
I think it goes back to lack of tranquility and not allowing elected officials to do their job. Every fan cannot be the club chairman so we have to allow elected officials do their job and replace them when the right time comes.
KS: Talk to us about you FKF Presidency bid. What did you want to achieve as FKF president that you couldn't achieve as KPL Chairman.
To answer this you have to understand the different roles of the two organizations. KPL is only the league manager...
KS: So what did you have in store as FKF President?
A lot of things and i hope they can still be done. Unfortunately i'm past my sell-by date because i don't think i'll run again but my agenda revolved around four issues; Development of youth football, Development of Infrastructure, development of women football and Transparency in management.
KS: Has you being past your sell-by date has anything to do with the ban you've been slapped with?
No it's a personal decision i made after my second unsuccessful bid. The ban does not benefit our football in anyway. It is not about individuals, If you ban me today and someone else takes my position tomorrow he will find the same same issues on the table. So the correct thing to do as a leader is to have a discussion with all involved parties and solve outstanding issues.
KS: So would these same issues be on the table today had you been elected president?
Not necessarily because what we are seeing today is lack of leadership. It is important that we emulate best practice as it is done elsewhere globally. We need to be very clear in interpreting roles of KPL and the federation and we need to respect existing agreements because we have been discussing these issues with the federation for some time now. So if i were the president i would offer leadership and will not engage in this discussions with a fixed mind.
KS: Why is CAF licensing an issue for some KPL clubs?
It is not an issue. The issue is it's execution. The rules are very clear on what should happen to clubs that fail to obtain this license. There are sanctions, penalties but relegation is not one of them! Relegation and promotion should be purely on sporting merit so we have to question the integrity of some of these decisions. Why for instance should a club that hasn't played in the league for all these years suddenly being fronted for promotion at all costs immediately someone becomes president?
KS: What are the arguments against an 18 team league?
The federation is in no position to set the number of teams to play in the league, it needs to take advise from the league manager and when deciding who gets promoted and relegated it has to be on sporting merit and not political expediency. We are not opposed to an 18 team league but we have shared with the federation the impact of the expansion starting with the additional 66 matches.
KS: So what would be your message to the FKF President when he reads this?
I plead with the all powerful leader of football in this country to rethink his decision. We are powerless and do not want to defy him. We also do not wish to engage in a fight with him. We are getting late for the commencement of the league and any further delays will make it difficult for us to have a successful season. The constant wrangles are not good for football. We need leadership from the top. As a leader, you cannot be crying foul always. What is the problem? Good leaders bring harmony and find solution to problems
KS: These issues around sports administration across all sports federations and organizations in Kenya seem familiar. What do you think is the major problem?
Samuel, There is someone who is the overall in charge of the Industry and answerable to the president, what has been his input so far? ..
KS: What has been the impact of the sports act on our sports and football in particular?
I think there has been no impact and i also think most people do not understand it. I think there should be a complete overhaul of the sports act and simplify it for the benefits of our sports organization.
KS: Thank you for your time Mr. Rachier ...
As African elite national football teams battle for the continent's most coveted football prize, The African Cup of Nations in Gabon, Kenyans are watching from the sidelines. Hoping that in 2019, our national team will be there competing against and alongside the best as we did 13 years ago in 2004. But as we wait, do we have the necessary strategies and policies in place to take us to the Cup of Nations or even the World Cup. Cheza Sport CEO speaks to Kenyanstar about the need for football academies in improving the Kenyan game. For his efforts with Cheza Sports, Collins Olimba is our Kenyan Star of the week.
Kenyan Cricket is on the rise again, but not at the pace it should be. Reckons Kenyan International Irfan Karim. Karim remains hopeful but asserts that it will take efforts and commitment from all stakeholders for Kenya to regain the form that took her to the semi-Finals of the world cup in 2003. Kenyanstar caught up with the 24 years old Wicket Keeper and son of the great Aasif Karim for the following Interview on our Kenyan Star of the week column.
One on One with Kenyan International Arnold Origi. Year of Interview: 2011
KS: If the youngest brand of football fans in kenya were to ask who Arnold Origi is, what would be your response?
(Laughs) Arnold is just a hard working lad born and raised in eastlands Nairobi 26 years ago, easy going, loves what i do and always gives 100%.
KS: When did your football career begin? Besides Mathare United and Tusker FC what other local teams have you played for?
My career began in Dandora as a 9 year old, playing in the MYSA u-12 championships for young mighties and espanol. Other than Mathare United and Tusker FC I have also played for Ngara youth Pelico in the FKF division 2 and Pumwani sportive in the super 2 league.
KS: What are the lowest and highest moments in your football career?
That has to be first the horror against Eritrea at kasarani, but i think the lowest of all was my knee injury because I feel at that point just before the injury I was on the verge of getting to a very high level as goalkeeper so that together with a series of other small frustrating injuries kept me out of the game for almost a year effectively derailing my progress. The highest point has to be my first three caps for the national team. The feeling and the experience was and still is priceless.
KS: You are one of if not the finest goalkeepers the current generation of kenyan fans have seen, do you think you could reclaim Harambee stars number 1 Jersey?
(Laughs) ... Thank you for that! Absolutely.. I have no single doubt in my mind that am going to be back between the sticks for the national team very soon.
KS: What does it entail to be the first choice goalkeeper at Moss FK?
Hardwork and sacrifice. You have to work hard a lot and sacrifice maybe time to talk with friends and family back home to have an extra session.. Here African Goal Keepers have a very negative reputation so you have to be at your absolute best in every match because one or maybe two bad games and that could be you watching the rest of the season on the bench.
KS: Your kenyan fans learnt with great disappointment late last year that Moss FK had been relegated to the second division. What would you attribute as the major cause of your teams poor performance?
Yeah It was sad and disappointing that we got relegated especially for the fans and the board because they had really worked hard to help save the team from going bankrupt. The Main attribute to that was that a majority of key players and the technical bench were lazy and were not committed. The players were not working hard in training and in matches and the coaches did not have the commitment and did not show desire to lead the team and help avoid relegation.
KS: Should we expect to watch you play Top division soccer with moss fk next season?
Absolutely.. Because I think that now we have got a coach who has the best mentality and has instilled a different working culture to the playing unit and is very committed.
KS: Do you think kenyan football has come of age? If yes what has changed? if not what should be changed?
The kenyan league is not of age yet but there is not a single doubt that quite a lot has changed and KPL is doing a super fantastic job. A lot still needs to be improved and this might take time so we maybe have to be a little bit patient with the conclusion that it has come of age. Unpaid or delayed salaries and allowances should be non-existence by now, I think also something can be done with the playing surface where the matches are being played because now it's only three that are in shape. but all in all KPL is doing a fantastic Job. It may take time but with the kind of effort being put in the league will one day be modern.
KS: Who among the kenyan goalkeeprs playing in KPL and out of the country would you rate as the best.
The Best Kenyan Goalies Playing in the kenyan league i would say Martin Musalia, Francis Ochieng and Wilson Oburu.
KS: During the Guinea Bissau match there was talk of a feud between Mariga and Oliech, is this true and might it have contributed to Harambee stars 1-0 loss?
There was no feud between Mariga and Oliech.. This was just a case of trying to find scapegoats for the loss..The only thing that can be attributed to the loss was bad preparation for the match and I think the whole nation saw how bad it was.
KS: Do you think kenya has realistic chances of qualifying for the 2012 African cup of nation?
The Chance of qualifying is still there. I think it is too early to give up or even start doing mathematics with the table. We just have to stay focused and just prepare and prepare well for the next game and take each game at a time.
KS: What is your take on kenya's recent poor performances.
Its quite a shame that we have got bad results lately. But quite honestly the team's management has been more than poor. I think we have a great side with massive talent but haven't been given much to work with and to be quite honest, I feel sorry for the fans because they have always been fantastic hoping that soon rather than later we will give them something to cheer about, but all that has ended up in heart aches.
KS: What is your Parting shot to upcoming footballers and Kenyan fans?
To all the upcoming players I always say this to them; Discipline combined with hard work leads to success nothing more. And to all the fans, you have been fantastic in support of the kenyan game and the national team. I appreciate your patriotism and so please do not lose hope, keep on supporting the team.
What do Oliech, Rooney and Fabregas have in common? …No! it’s not the three vowels in their names. Once upon a time in a not-so distant past, they were among the world’s 20 brightest young talents. The only difference is that the latter pair has amassed 14 titles between them while Dennis “the menace” has NONE. At the end of their respective careers, what will we remember them by?
Kenyan national Raymond “King Kong” Ochieng’ will be taking on Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller this Saturday, 18th April,3:00 am Kenyan time. The bout will be hosted at Hinckley Casino and will be televised on CBS Friday Night Fights. Kenyanstar’s Fanuel Andwati managed to grab an interview with him ahead of the much anticipated fight.
He was born in a year when Nelson Mandela handed over the William Webb Ellis Trophy to Springbok captain Francois Pienaar after an entertaining Rugby World Cup final in Johannesburg. He is an Aries by birth, but let’s not pay much credence to his astrological profile.
Dan speaks fluent Japanese, enjoys the japanese culture but despite all this he is a true kenyan patriot who hopes to one day represent kenya at the Olympics. His basic element is water and once he goes into any swimming pool, he is there to win a race or have fun. He is so good, he is the vice captain of the USIU team. Join me find out more about Dan:
Name: Kennedy Owino Ochieng’
Age: 20 Years
Occupation: Student and cricket player
Hobbies: Playing and watching Cricket, Playing cricket on playstation, swimming, watching Formula 1 and Rugby.
Favourite food: Chicken and spaghetti
Name: Kennedy Owino Ochieng’
While in the process of wrapping up my tour of Strathmore University I was introduced to a young, talented handball player. His presence on the pitch is said to bring confidence to his team mates. This has resulted to multiple wins for any team he plays for. Read on to know more about Caleb.
Despite losing its last match 3-1 to Parklands, Multimedia University Hockey team still tops the Kenya National Hockey League with 20 points after playing 9 matches; the team has won 5 matches, drawn 3 and lost only one match. But who is behind this success? Its none other than Coach George Jalang’o commonly known as Jalas, Victor Nabiswa caught up with him and this is a story about his journey as a coach.
She started playing volleyball at the age of nine at Kawaii primary School. Meet Florence Bosire, one of the best setters in the country. Recently,she was part of the Prisons team that won the Africa Women Volleyball Championship trophy for the fourth time. She did not participate but had a hand in the win.
First published in the year 2012:
He was then KCB’s Top scorer with six goals to his name at the time of the Interview. He has featured prominently for the national Junior teams, the Under 20 and the Under 23. Before the start of the season, no one really knew much about the Friends School Kamusinga alumni.
However, his exploits on the pitch have made him a known figure in the local soccer scene. He even received his first ever Senior Harambee Stars Call up when the team was preparing for the match against Malawi in Nairobi.
Raphael Mumgai Kiongera, mostly known to his peers as Munga was born in Webuye on the night of 14th June in 1993. He loved soccer so much that he started playing as soon as he could co-ordinate his two feet.
He attended primary school in Webuye where he used to prominently feature for the school team in inter school competitions in Webuye. Funny enough, he never used to be a striker while at Primary school. He used to be a goalkeeper, who would switch once in a while to an offensive midfielder.
Upon Completion of primary school, he was enrolled at the Friends School Kamusinga, a school known better for basketball and hockey talent. However, he chose to continue with his love for football. At FSK, he started off as a keeper, and the then coach Mr. Oruko noticed his good goalkeeping exploits during inter class competitions and drafted him into the school team.
But Mr. Oruko would then be promoted to the School’s Games Master and the soccer team had a new coach, Mr. Waluvafu. The coach then noticed that Mungai would make a better attacking midfielder than a goalkeeper. It was then that he switched from his goalkeeping antics into midfield business.
He was later drafted back as a defensive midfielder at Form Two, a position he played up to the time he completed school.
Though he says they never had such great outings as a soccer team in Western Province, Mungai vividly remembers his last year in fourth form as one of the best years in the School’s soccer history.
“In that year, we participated in the Allan Bradley Tournament hosted by our school and managed to reach the finals. We had never gone into the finals before. We beat very notable schools like Kakamega high and Vihiga, but we lost to Manor house in the finals. In that same year, we managed to reach the Provincial Level of the school games. The last time the school reached the Provincials was in 1998,” says Mungai.
He never really thought he would take up soccer as a career. His parents too, never always advised him so, and neither did the principal of his school.
“We always used to collide with my parents. They thought I was playing with education by playing soccer all the time. The Principal of our school always said that football can never be taken as a career as he always pointed out at the usual wrangles that go on in soccer. I loved football but I never thought at even one point I would play professional football,” adds the KCB forward.
Upon Completion of high school, he immediately joined the Kenyatta University in 2011 where he is currently a second year pursuing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology. In his first year at KU, he went for trials at Nationwide side KRA, with his desire still burning to play soccer. Good for him, he was picked by the team. He only played there for six months before KCB noticed his talent and captured him.
2012 was his best season at KCB’. He scored six goals for them and was selected for the Under 23 National team and neared a call up to the national team. He vividly remembers the most important call of the year inviting him to the senior team like it was just yesterday.
“It was on a Monday, I was just relaxing in the house because we had played a game on Sunday. As I was resting I got a call from a new number. I received the call and got the most “shocking” news. The person at the other end told me that he was the coach and I was needed in camp immediately. I could not believe it, it was a huge surprise for me,” he says.
“I did not expect to get a call to the national team because the squad had already been named. It was a BIG surprise for me,” he adds.
He notes that he picked a lot of experience from his days in the National team camp, interacting with players who have plied their trade in Europe and also getting to learn a lot from the immediate former national team coach Francis Kimanzi.
As a young player, he has also had his ups and downs. For his lowest moment;
“That had to be in 2010 in the CECAFA Under 20 Championships in Eritrea. We had played so well in the tournament and were even hot favorites to win the cup. Everybody was talking about us. However, in the semi finals, we lost 2-1 to Uganda. I felt too bad because we lost due to simple mistakes, a match that we would have easily won,” says Mungai.
His highest moments;
“My career is still on a high and I know I will have bigger and better moments. But up to now, my highest moment is the Wesr African trip we had with the Under 23 team. We surpassed so many people’s expectations. I was happy meeting with top players I always see on television like Demba Ba and Demba Cisse, against Guinea also being tightly marked by players like Bobo Balde and Ishamel Bangoura who I have only heard on radio and seen on TV made me feel great,” he says with a huge smile on his face.
Challenges for a soccer player are always forthcoming for a soccer player. But for the youn Mungai, the biggest difference is how you handle those challenges that make you a better player.
“The biggest challenge I have seen in my soccer career is whe things just do not work out for the team. You do everything right and play the Coach’s tactics to the latter but you still go for almost a month without victory. The pressure is always high on everybody’s shoulders but it is always up to an individual to shell out of the pressure and come out a champion,” adds Mungai.
He puts his aspirations as one day playing in the elite European leagues.
“It is any player’s dreams to play in Europe. I am no different. I would like to work hard and see myself playing in bigger and better leagues,” says the avid Manchester United fan.
His role models,
“Here in Kenya, I admire Sofapaka’s John Baraza. He is a prolific scorer and despite his age he still runs around like and 18 year old. Ever since I started hearing of him, he has never stopped scoring. Around the globe, I admire Totenham Hotspur’s Raphael Van Der Vaart. He is an attack minded player whose philosophy is always forward play. You rarely see him playing the ball to his back. That is what I want to adapt as a player,” he adds.
And which striker would he feel complete twin striking alongside with?
“Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney is my role model. He is a team player who fights for the team and can lift the team when it is evidently down,” he says.
Of the defenders he has played against in the Kenyan Premier League, he has singled out Tusker duo of Brian Mandela and Joseph Shikokoti as the hardest nut to crack.
“The two are very intelligent defenders who play with a striker’s mind. They are never too rushy in making tackles and beating them is never easy. Most of the times you find them winning the ball so easily. I think they are the best defenders in the KPL,” he adds.
His parting shot;
“Always work hard and trust in God. Never let your dreams die. Challenges are part of life and never give up even if you find the biggest rock on your path. If you were destined to success and you work towards that, nothing will come in between you and your success”
Before this race, he was barely unknown. Peter Ndolo brushed aside seasonal runners in the 5000 meters men to qualify for the national trials set for next month. Ndolo who was participating as a guest runner beat a field of experienced runners to come in second in a hotly contested race held at the Nyayo Stadium.
Even thou they finished fourth in the just concluded Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association Basketball championships, Rueben Muraya is one person who has caught the eyes of many. His dazzling dribbling skills and speed has made him a crowd favorite and a contender for the MVP award.
Football writer collins okinyo held candid interview with Victor Mugubi who plays for Germinal Beerschot in Belgium.This player nicknamed 'mikel"by his peers is one of he best defensive midfielders kenya has ever produced. He joined the professional ranks at an early age and clubs like CSKA Moscow have been closely in talks with him.This phenomenal player comes from a talented family full of footballers lead by Inter milan's player Macdonald Mariga. Mugabe is one of the five proffesional players named in coach Jacob 'Ghost' Mulee's provisional squad to face Uganda in a seemingly must win clash.
Read more on who is Mugabe, his early life and football.
kenyanstar: Thanks for accepting this interview with kenyanstar please tell the readers when and where you started playing football?
Mugabe: I started playing football in the small street called Muthurwa (Dallas) with my friends.
kenyanstar: Who inspired you to be who you are today?
Mugabe: My older brothers (MARIGA AND HESKEY) thanks also to my late coach Amigo who gave me advise en exposure.
kenyanstar: Having come from a family of footballers do you consider it a family blessing or just luck?
Mugabe: Yeah my father was a footballer so we all follow his footstep and football is in our blood. I come from a blessed talented family.
kenyanstar: Which club are you playing for currently and which position do you play?
Mugabe: Am playing for GERMINAL BEERSCHOT in BELGIUM as an attacking or defensive central midfielder.
kenyanstar: How many caps do you have playing for the national team Harambee stars?
Mugabe: I have 8 caps for the Kenya National team.
kenyanstar: What are some of the challenges you are facing in Europe?
Mugabe: I think it is only fighting for my position, is not easy getting in the squad as you have to show them in training that you are good enough to be in the team.
kenyanstar: What is your view of the standards of the current Kenya premier league?
Mugabe: I think now the Kenyan premier league has improved, a lot of talented young players in the league. which is very good for the future of Harambee Stars.
kenyanstar: This might be a difficult question to you but please can you inform the readers of what you earn as a professional player?
Mugabe: (Haha) sorry this is confidential i can not say want i earn.
kenyanstar: Have any other clubs approached you seeking your services while in Europe?
Mugabe: Yeah few clubs came AZ alkmaar, Gent and also scouts from Fulham they came to monitor me and recently CSKA Moscow of Russia. My team is very tough when it comes to any clubs who are interested in me especially when big clubs over here are interested like Gent, the president of my club doesn't wanna talk to any club from here.
Kenyanstar: CSKA Moscow, it was all over the media and sports blogs that you were headed to this Russian club. Was it true? If yes what happened to the move?
Mugabe: Yeah, that was true. We had discussed all modalities with the team including remuneration but unfortunately my current team Beerschot wanted a replacement from Cagliari in Italy but they could not get him so my coach who was not happy with the intended Moscow move insisted that i had to remain with the team until the end of the season meaning the deal fell off.
kenyanstar: If granted the opportunity would you introduce some of your counterparts in Kenya to your employer for consideration as the Nigerian or west African players do?
Mugabe: Yes of course,i will be happy to help my fellow kenya players.
kenyanstar: Do you have a nickname?
Mugabe: Yeah i have too many nickname when am in my club they call me Mikel,they say we look a like en the style of playing is the same.
kenyanstar: What is your take on the suprise 1-0 loss by harambee start to football minnows Guinea Bissau?
Mugabe: That was just a bad start. Harambee stars can still make it AFCON 2012 with the remaining five matches. And we need our fans and Kenyans at large to believe in us and support us.
kenyanstar: What solutions can you suggest for unity to prevail in the management of football in Kenya?
Mugabe: If we can stop wrangles and be together our country can invest in football and our National team will even be better than before.
Kenyanstar: Do you feel kenya has the potential of hosting the 2016 Africa cup of nations?
Mugabe: Yes we have good hotels the only thing they should work on is the stadia.
kenyanstar: please tell the readers something about your immediate family and how they inspire you?
Mugabe: My family inspires me a lot, when things are not going good,they are always there for me especially my mum and dad. I appreciate what they have done it means a lot to me.
kenyanstar: Thank you so much Victor mugabe and on behalf of kenyanstar and myself we wish you all the best in your future endeavors
We can not separate God from football says Ronald Okoth our Kenyan Star of the week. Ronald believes his trust in God and his hard work have brought him thus far in football. He is yet to reach his destination though. Not until he strikes for the national soccer team, Harambee stars and a top European side. The Kenyan star goes one on one with the ruthless striker...
K.S.: How would you describe in brief your very young football career?
Ronald: Like most other footballers, I have played football since I was a small child making it to our primary school team and also the secondary school team(Sawang'ong'o high school in Kisumu). After my high school, I had short stints at Mahakama and Thika united. I then moved on to Sweden at the sky square soccer camp. I stayed at sky square for two months before moving on to FC Metz in France.
K.S.: So how did you make it to Sweden and finally France? Are your skills above the rest?
Ronald: I did make various applications to soccer academies in Europe and sky square came back positive. To France, Metz spotted me during a friendly match. I'm confident in myself, I work hard and do my best to achieve my goals.
K.S.: What position do you play? Won any accolades?
Ronald: I'm a striker, No major accolades as of the moment but I'm proud to have been my clubs top scorer in the France's Div 2 youth league with 26 goals in the last season.
K.S.: What has been your best moment in your football career thus far?
Ronald: My best moment was when we(FC Metz) played against FC Bordeaux and won by four goals to three. I scored a heart trick in that game.
K.S.: How would you compare the game in Kenya and the game in France or Sweden?
Ronald: The way I have played football with my boys in Kenya is the same way I have played in Europe. They have talent and so do we en mass. What they have and we don't are the facilities and good will from cooperate sponsors.
K.S.: Can one make a living out of football in Kenya.
Ronald: In that particular aspect, Kenya still has a long way to go. It is possible if all the stake holders played their respective roles but at the moment that is not happening and it does not seem like its about to start happening. That is why the ultimate goal for a football player in Kenya is to head Europe, or sometimes Asia.
K.S.: Where shall we see you in the next five years?
Ronald: My hard work and aspirations, a top European club. If i'm to make the choice, Arsenal.
K.S.: What has been the contribution of Kenyan fans to the game?
Ronald: I think the fans have been a little bit harsh especially on the national team Harambee Stars. The passion does exist but Kenyan fans should learn to have patience. They should know that in a game of football, there are only three anticipated results; win, loss or draw. Any team will carry one of those at the end of the day.
K.S.: While in Europe, what great lessons have you learned that you will always share in an attempt to uplift the Kenyan game?
Ronald: The greatest lesson I have learned is discipline. My discipline starts with the fear of God because I trust he works it out for me. When you are disciplined, you will always report to training on time and do as the coach requires. You will associate well with your team mates and life will be much easier. I have also learned that staying away from drugs will greatly boost one's game.
K.S.: What is your opinion on the accusations of favoritism by some Kenyan coaches when selecting teams?
Ronald: Favoritism does exist and I know because I have been a victim. It is not only killing our game but also burning out talents. Not all the best players are getting a chance to play and some are getting frustrated. I however advise any players out there who happen to be victims not to give up because God gives talent and what he has spared for them no one will take.
K.S.: Your favorite player and team in Kenya?
Ronald: Opiyo aka Pinches formerly of Gor but now with Thika united. For the team, SOFAPAKA is leading the way for the rest. I also like Gor Mahia pretty much because of late it has supplied the country with some new great talents.
K.S.: Your version of Harambee Stars starting line up?
Ronald: Okello of thika united in the goal, Pascal, Fighter, Njoroge and Blacky(My hood boy) on the defence, Mugabe, Jamal, Opiyo and Oboya to marshal the mid field and finally Oliech and wanga on the offense.
K.S.: All the best Rony, is there anything we haven't asked that you would like to say?
Ronald: Thank you and yes, you haven't asked me my aspirations with the national team. I want and I'm working for the number 10 jersey, I hope to lead Kenya to qualify for the 2012 African Cup of Nations. I know I can do it and I'm hoping to get the chance.