Friday, May 31, 2013

Losers in NOCK elections have no moral ground to complain

There is a verse in the Good Book that warns believers against looking at the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye while making no effort to dislodge the log in their own eyes.

With the conclusion of the NOCK elections – selection would fit the bill in this particular instance – things have gone a full circle for top brass of the various sports federations in the country who have been salivating for a piece of the cake at the multi-billion shillings National Olympics Committee secretariat.

The boot is now on the other foot and the very same officials who are known to have bulldozed their way into office in dubious election exercises not so long ago are the ones shouting at the top of the roof for being shortchanged in the NOCK polls.

I take particular issue with the athletics body and the football federation. Its not lost on our memories that during Athletics Kenya’s recent elections, they employed the same tactic that NOCK used in endorsing some incumbents while at the same time locking out those posing a threat to the old guards.

Football Kenya Federation, on its part, is as dead as a dodo; it has been in comatose for the last hell knows how many years. The long and short of it is that FKF’s inclusion or exclusion from NOCK is of little or no consequence.

Let’s face it. The Olympics, itself is a strange concept to a federation that perennially struggles to send our national team football team across the board to participate in a nondescript tournament going by the name the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup.

However, two wrongs don’t make a right. By stage managing their elections, NOCK have proved to any one among the citizenry who in still doubt that ours is a country incapable of the simple exercise of counting and tallying votes in elections at whichever level.

All said and done, the entire process was a lose-lose situation for Kenyan sports. Electing new officials, who have done little in uplifting the standards of the respective sports disciplines they head, would have just been as detrimental as maintaining the status quo.

Omondi is a sub-editor with Sporton! Email:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Clubs must learn to take responsibility for their fans’ behaviour

It’s now clear that the Kenyan Premier League and the clubs in the league are completely incapable of controlling crowds at match venues.

I attended Saturday’s match between AFC Leopards and Mathare United and from the events that unfolded after the final whistle, I am now compelled to believe that our local football fans have staged a violent takeover of all the match venues.

The sad thing is that not the clubs, KPL or Football Kenya Federation can do anything about it. Whenever these goons have gone about unleashing terror at match venues to vent out their frustration over reasons only they can explain, all KPL is known for doing is issuing some inane threats, which they don’t execute anyway.

As is always the case, it is the unsuspecting traders, pedestrians and motorists who usually bear the brunt of this public nuisance. The traders whose stalls outsides City Stadium were razed up in the aftermath of Saturday’s match will attest to this.

But it is the clubs that are the masters of passing the buck. Every time things go wrong during matches, the clubs always choose the convenient option of ‘disowning’ their fans as opposed to taking responsibility for the unruly behavior of their benefactors.

Hear out their standard line of absolving themselves from blame:
“Oh! Those trouble makers? Not a single one of them is fan of the club. They are just individuals wearing our replica jerseys with the sole aim of giving us a bad name.”

The irony here is that club branches comprising signed up members is what is currently trending among the fans of the serious teams in the KPL. Yet, the clubs and their members are practically perfect strangers. In time of trouble, neither can recognize the other.

In the final analysis, it matters little whether the perpetrators of hooliganism are actually fans or masqueraders.
The buck stops with the clubs, Kenyan Premier League and Football Kenya Federation in as far as crowd control is concerned. But until this threesome learns to accept responsibility, hooligans will continue having a field day on each and every match day.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

SuperSport slept on the job

Kenyan football could easily pass for any other name ranging from boxing, tae kwon do or even karate for the endless verbal and physical fisticuffs that the fans are often treated to.

If it’s not, the endless upheavals within the federation or the intra-club feuds, then it’s the fans themselves settling score the old fashioned way, omundu khu mundu, as AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia fans are often compelled to do.

But the past one week has seen a different kind of a fight in the football realms far removed from what the public is used to.

South African pay television SuperSport is screaming blue murder after their rivals Zuku pulled a fast one on them with that controversial Ingwe TV deal.

As the exclusive Kenyan Premier League broadcast rights holders SuperSports’ ire is quite understandable. But it is the underhand ploys they have resorted to in desperation that have fanned the raging flames.

Using their massive leverage, SuperSport is clearly arm twisting the Kenyan Premier League to coerce AFC Leopards into revoking the deal with suspension threats in the event they fail to comply.

There has been a heated debate on the Daily Nation sports desk over this issue but no one seems to agree with each other.

Give the devil his due. SuperSport have done a great job in lifting the standards of the game since their arrival on these shores some five years ago at a time when Kenyan football was on its death throes. The milestones achieved cannot be gainsaid.

But that said, am afraid it seems SuperSport have also been sleeping on the job in certain aspects. I still don’t understand how a Johnny-come-lately (no offence to Zuku) could beat the moneyed SuperSport in their own turf to a simple idea such as a club TV.

This is something they should have done like yesterday. In the meantime, for their folly they will have to contend with the excellent publicity Zuku will gain from this fallout.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Gone are the days of 'kuchaguliwa bila kupingwa'

Dear readers, allow me to regale you with a political tale from yore. At the height of the infamous Nyayo era, a new phrase, ‘kuchaguliwa bila kupingwa’ entered the Kenyan lexicon.
This was in the wake of the massively rigged 1988 general election that were held under a new queuing system, at the time simply known as ‘mlolongo’ in Kenyan lingo.
The whole exercise was very simple. The various candidates would stand at the head of queues carrying placards bearing their images.
Voters were required to line up behind the candidate of their choice upon which a head count would be conducted by dubious electoral board officials and the results announced pronto.
But Kanu, the ruling party of the day, nay, the only party (baba na mama) at the time had no place for dissidents.
The polls were marred with numerous cases of the notorious Kanu Youth Wingers whipping up voters into line from queues of candidates perceived as being in the bad books of the powers that be to join the queues of the party’s candidates of choice.
To cut a long story short, the whole exercise was a sham.

The tragedy is that rather than resulting in free, fair and transparent polls, the secrecy of ballot boxes having been dispensed with, the 1988 polls ended up being the most flawed elections in the history of independent Kenya.
What am I ranting and raving about? Tuesday’s Athletics Kenya (AK) election brought back the old memories of those days of ‘kuchaguliwa bila kupingwa’ with some members of the athletics body’s top brass assuming office ‘unopposed’.
I don’t know exactly what informed AK’s decision to abolish the chairmanship in favour of a Presidency with four Vice Presidents in it’s new constitution.
But it all reminded me of the stormy Kanu National Delegates Conference of March 18, 2002 in Kasarani where President Daniel Arap Moi, the self-proclaimed ‘professor of politics’ pulled a fast on his overly ambitious Vice President, the late Professor George Saitoti (may his soul rest in peace), by endorsing the creation of four ambiguous posts of party Vice Presidents.
The move ultimately locked out Saitoti from the grand scheme of the Moi succession politics.
It is on this particular occasion that Saitoti made his most famous quote, “There come a time” (sic) that became popular when he passed on in a tragic plane crash on June 10, 2012.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Superstition is just part of the game

It’s strange how a sports-filled weekend is every sports editor and sub editor’s worst nightmare. The newsroom is one cauldron of a pressure cooker with very tight deadlines.
The working hours are often long, odd and irregular. Naturally, things usually get thick and misty on those crazy weekends, like the past one, when you have the final IRB Sevens leg, Manchester United’s coronation and of course the Mashemeji derby all competing for space on the sports pages. It’s not a place for the fainthearted.
So I when at the end of a back breaking day, someone in the newsroom, in total exasperation exclaimed, “This is the most thankless job in the world!” I empathized but at the same time could not suppress my laughter.
It’s on the account of the same that I missed out on my place on the stands as AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia performed the latest rendition of their age long ‘friendly war’.
In anticipation of a long hard day in the office, I made a deliberate effort to make up for the missed opportunity to watch the derby at the stadium by attending Saturday’s top of the table clash between Sofapaka and KCB at the City Stadium.

Without taking anything away from the two teams, by all standards it was an entertaining match but an unworthy substitute for the AFC-Gor showdown.
On the stands, I found myself in the company of a renowned sports presenter with a leading TV station and naturally our chit chat drifted away from action on the pitch to the much anticipated Mashemeji derby.
My affable companion went about regaling me with tales of his encounter with two teams earlier on in the day during the final training sessions at separate locations in the city.
His first stop was Nyayo Stadium where the K’Ogalo camp welcomed him with open arms. Coach Zdravko Loguruisc even had enough time for an exclusive interview!
But it was a different scenario at the Marist Centre in Karen where Leopards were going through their final paces. The players and the technical bench fell short of declaring my journalist friend ‘persona non grata’.
Apparently, a decree has been issued (by hell knows who in Ingwe’s technical bench) that the team should avoid any form of ‘contamination’ ahead of the match.
No prizes for guessing the beleaguered scribe’s ethnic background. Nothing to worry though, it’s all in the spirit of the game. Superstition is an integral part of Kenya’s biggest football league match.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Get ready for Ingwe-K'Ogalo derby!

The Monday edition of the Daily Nation is fast becoming my favourite weekly read for one simple reason.
Following the sustained efforts of our two in house columnists, Peter Leftie, yes he of the Ingwe’s Den and Tom Osanjo in K’Ogalo’s Corner, fans of Kenya’s most decorated clubs, AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia, have been inevitably sucked into this soft banter.
For those still not in the know, Leopards’ blood flows in Leftie’s veins while Osanjo, on his part, is K’Ogalo’s self-appointed ‘Praise and Worship’ leader.
Just check out their stories in the sports pages of today’s copy of the Daily Nation: Green Army, prepare for Ingwe attack, is Lefties pompous headline to which Osanjo aptly replies, Crooners will never miss the lyrics to praise storied Gor Mahia.

Boy, don’t these two gentlemen love to have a go at each other and settle matter the old fashioned way!
But it has gotten even better. My editor has also finally swept away by the K’Ogalo-Ingwe traction and set aside entire page for the fans engage in football hostilities.
Ideally, this should have been a forum for fans of all the teams to have a say, but because all the other teams have ‘no fans’ the Green Army and Ingwe fans have hogged and gobbled up the entire space.
I have been having a ball reading these interesting articles that are always biased towards one team or the other.
And with Gor and Leopards set to renew rivalries on Sunday at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani you can bet your life that these verbal tirades will rage on unabated.
In the coming days it will spill over to social media where all sorts lewd obscenity will be thrown back and forth.
And when the match day finally comes, a sea of blue and white hoops will troop to the battle field to meet what, Lefties loves calling their noisy neigbours in green. Brace yourselves for total ‘war’.

In sport, a little consideration goes a long way

On Thursday night while burning the midnight oil at the office, I received an interesting text message from a certain Joel Andanje.
“Heading to Kampala for the East Africa Skating Championships. Pray for Journey mercies,” the message read.
My acquaintance Andanje is a self-made skating coach, who also holds the position of Head of Freestyle Skating in the Rollersport Kenya Federation.
We didn’t touch base again until Tuesday afternoon when Andanje called and requested me to return his call. But for some strange reason, when I tried calling back, his phone went answered.
Then on Wednesday morning I got another text from Andanje explaining his predicament. Apparently, the Kenyan contingent got stranded in Kampala soon after the championship concluded on Saturday.
In his own words, Andanje explained that the Ugandan Skating Federation reneged on their assurance to foot the Kenyan team’s accommodation and meals ostensibly after losing out on the skating course.
In the end, it took the benevolence of Kampala Coach who obliged to ferry the skaters back home even though the team was short of a whopping Sh 19,000.
I eventually got to speak Andanje late on Wednesday evening shortly after the team of 26 skaters arrived in Nairobi, thankfully in one piece.

In this age and time, do such things still happen? Our skaters tribulations across the border reminded me of one poignant incident way back in 2006 when former top tier league side Shabana got ‘stuck’ in the coastal city of Mombasa after playing a league match against Dubai Bank.
The story has it that the Kisii side started their journey to the Coast on a Friday but failed to make it in good time after their bus broke down somewhere along the way.
Somehow, the travelling party arrived in Mombasa on Saturday morning after a labourous overnight journey and headed straight to Bamburi Portland Cement ground for the match. As it were, the fatigued team suffered a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of host team.
But that was just the beginning of their troubles. Having run out of cash, the players wondered aimlessly like vagabonds in the streets of Mombasa.
It was by pure luck when they bumped on a sympathetic patron in some seedy food kiosk who catered for their meals for the night. With nowhere to go, the team spent the next twenty four hours in the rat hole of an accommodation spending their nights either on the concrete floor or on the tables after close of business.
Eventually, word reached an official of Dubai Bank FC who bailed out the team after some 48 hours in hell. It all made for a very pitiful story. Sadly, that marked the beginning of the end for once vibrant Shabana FC.