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September 25, 2018

Really, Kenyan soccer has hit rock bottom

FKF president Sam Nyamweya during a meeting in Nairobi. Photo/File
FKF president Sam Nyamweya during a meeting in Nairobi. Photo/File

I cannot even begin to write about my pet subject Arsenal when football in my country is dying! Yes dying!

So often we complain about a lack of grassroot programmes in the country to build football from the bottom up; but when the pinnacle of our football; our national team Harambee Stars; is treated like animals then I can safely say that we have hit rock bottom!

What I have read and heard over the last couple of days is blame shifting from one place to another.

I think we’re all on the same page when we say that FKF President Sam Nyamweya should take the bulk of the blames since; in his own words: “I am the custodian of football in this country!”

It irks me when he says that but then he should know that it comes with the responsibility of ensuring that football runs smoothly in this country.

The travel arrangements were a farce and I shed a tear when I read Jacob Keli’s comment on facebook the morning after the game. He basically said he had “never been in a 22 hour flight being fed on biscuits and juice, and then made to head straight for the pitch!” Just pause and read that sentence again.

If that isn’t modern day slavery then I don’t know what is. FKF are more concerned now about insisting that Nyamweya presented himself to police contrary to reports that he was arrested.

Right now FKF should be addressing the comedy of errors that occurred that led to the Stars being treated like slaves!

Nyamweya has failed Kenyan football but the saddest part is that he is a democratically elected official.

Yes! Club officials, the same clubs whose players were mistreated on national duty; voted for this guy to run football in this country for four years.

Whether money exchanged hands or not; club officials voted him in! And the worst part is that there are club officials lining up to return him to the helm of football in this country when elections take place next month.

Players who have suffered under this regime should do everything possible to make their officials not vote Nyamweya back to power.

As much as our government claims to have “rescued” the situation on Monday to see the Stars take off for their 22 hour trip around the world; the officials at the sports ministry should take equal blame for the fiasco; that didn’t just begin on Monday but that has been going on for years in football.

I’m so tired of hearing Sports CS Hassan Wario threaten to take action if football officials don’t style up!

A threat at some point needs to come to pass or it is meaningless. I saw some fans blaming the players for us not qualifying for the group stages by saying that we should have killed off the game at Nyayo a week ago!

But the problems didn’t start on Monday. The week leading up to the Nyayo game was just as tumultuous as Monday. Captain Victor Wanyama made it known that there were food issues in the Stars camp leading up to that game and as usual allowances weren’t paid on time.

The players have been performing under duress for years and our Sports CS has done little to help. Every time something happens at State House, promises are made but never acted upon.

I also take issue with President Uhuru Kenyatta who I thought would do more for Sport and football in particular.

For long I have asked what the correlation is between Sport and Culture when it comes to managing the two. It is not Wario’s fault that his professional area is in the culture half of the ministry; but when the two are lumped together it’s giving the Sport section a raw deal.

Dear Mr President, please find it in your heart to see the potential of having a vibrant sport industry and give us a ministry and minister who is skilled in this area. Let’s stop this modern day slavery of our players and bring in officials who care deeply about this industry.

You promised youth jobs; well a vibrant sport industry has the potential to employ hundreds of thousands of youth. You have it in your power to leave a legacy of being the leader who took the bold step of developing the sport industry to the point where the next Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi came from Kenya.

It’s not by luck that Sport matters hog at least 8 of the top 10 trends on twitter every weekend. It’s no longer a hobby; it’s an industry! Treat it as one!

Talk to me on @CarolRadull on twitter or www.facebook.com/CarolRadull

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