BY EVELYNE NJOROGE
Watching some of our local football teams in the Premier League in action these days is thrilling.
There is no denying that seeing Patrick Kagogo of Sofapaka FC or his top scoring teammate John Baraza in the pitch is entertaining.
Kagogo’s dribbling skills are just a sight to behold. But so is watching “Sunday Olise” Chege. Who? You ask. Chege or ‘Olise’ as he’s known to his friends is a guy whose dreams of playing for “Harambee Stars’ were crashed many years ago when he realized that getting to the national team was not as easy as he grew up believing.
Chege’s skills on the field saw him nicknamed ‘Olise’ by his schoolmates in Kahuho Secondary School in Kikuyu in the mid 1990s as they likened him to Nigerian Sunday Oliseh who’s remembered for his winning goal in their game against Spain in the 1998 World Cup.
But unfortunately, no one outside his village got to know about his talents. Why? Because the then Kenya Football Federation did not bother to scout for young talents down at the grass root level.
But how can they when there are all these self-inflicted problems (read mismanagement, corruption, incompetence, leadership wrangles etc) that have dogged the now Football Kenya Limited (FKL) since its inception.
It is alleged that for players (who are lucky enough to be in small leagues) have to the bribe their way into the Super League. Small wonder; referees who officiate in these matches have to be bribed such that a team cannot win an away match. Gate collections often disappear into thin air, yet no one has even been brought to book and made to account for this.
The government has stood aside and watched as the organization that is supposed to ensure the growth of the sport in the country go down the drain. KFF now FKL’s constitution has been violated countless times to suit the whims and interests of a few individuals but the government has turned a blind eye.
In fact, the government has exacerbated the problem by insisting on getting foreign coaches (for the national team) and having the audacity to ask their countries to pay them. Have we no shame really? It’s like hiring a house girl and asking her family to pay you for her services. Such absurdity!
FIFA’s warnings and directives have fallen on deaf ears. All these mess begs the question, what should Kenya do to bring professionalism into the sport? Going by the craze and fanaticism of English Premier League among Kenyans, it is evident that they love soccer.
The gold FIFA World Cup Trophy that signifies football supremacy is coming to town in November. How will Kenyan football fans feel knowing that they are not even close to making it to the semi finals of African Cup of Nation?
Can a national team prosper when it does not have support from a youth program that nurtures and feeds it with young energetic players? Can soccer develop when we have left its running to a few corrupt individuals who have no interest in its improvement?
My guess is no. Yes the Premier League is vibrant but there’s a disconnect between football at the grass root level and the national level. And so since the country has failed to improve the sport in the country and since the relevant authorities are not keen on addressing the problems that dog the sport, I propose that we should just ***disband ***Harambee Stars, FKL and the Premier League.
This will at least save the country from being embarrassed, when and if FIFA decides to suspend Kenya from participating in the global tourneys.
My colleagues have argued that such a move would render so many young people who depend on these clubs jobless. But wouldn’t they be doing so much better (economically that is) if the sport was developed to such levels as we see in West Africa.
We need to be without clubs that play professional football until the day we deeply yearn to
When we have people who will volunteer time and energy to build the sport from the grass root level and clean up football in the country.
Until the day we learn how to run and manage football like a business; until the day we realize that football is and can be a career that has turned so many young people around the globe into millionaires, until the government realizes that it can be a tool to fight poverty, then I think we should stop considering football as a sport worth talking about.
In the meantime, let’s just be having friendly matches, lets just be playing football just for the fun of it say have over 40s play under 20s. Let’s just play football to pass time.
(EVELYNE NJOROGE is Capital Business News Reporter)