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'I AM THE MAN'

Mwachiro: Rank outsider seeks to topple established honchos

Hulking Herbert Mwachiro believes he has what it takes to wrench the FKF leadership mantle from Nick Mwendwa.

In Summary

• The love for football was ingrained in Mwachiro from a very early age. His father, he says, used to take him to City Stadium where he would watch Gor Mahia and eventually became a fan.

• The feeling that decisions are made by a select few disenfranchises our football unity over a whole four year life of a federation — Mwachiro

Football Kenya Federation presidential aspirant Herbert Mwachiro
Football Kenya Federation presidential aspirant Herbert Mwachiro
Image: /COURTESY

Unlike his uncle, radio and television broadcast legend Leonard Mambo Mbotela, he might be relatively unknown among ordinary football fans.

Even diehard members of the ‘sofaset branch’ (fans who watch the Kenyan Premier League on TV) would struggle to put a face to the composed voice that commentated in the many matches when the top flight league was broadcast on Supersport.

But hulking Herbert Mwachiro believes he has what it takes to wrench the FKF leadership mantle from Nick Mwendwa.

The 50-year-old alumni of the prestigious St.Mary’s School, where President Uhuru Kenyatta got his education, believes that it is the right time for a re-think in the way we look at football administration and he has the nous and wherewithal to lead Kenyan football towards that path.

“Kenya is a football sleeping giant and the time to reawaken it is now. The potential we have suppressed for far too long has made us embrace normal when our aims should be higher, and that’s what I see when I look at Kenyan football. I want to bring that re-think, that need to shift our goals higher, the need to give more people a chance to life through football,” remarks Mwachiro.

The love for football was ingrained in Mwachiro from a very early age. His father, he says, used to take him to City Stadium where he would watch Gor Mahia and eventually became a fan.

“My dad used to take me to the stadium from when I was six and that made me love football. I played football in high schools and had passion for the game from then on,” he reminisces.

Conceding that the sport has grown significantly over the years, Mwachiro, a graduate of Moi University with a Bachelor of Science degree pointed out that we are still very far from realising its full potential.

“Perennial problems facing football administration in Kenya can be tamed – through streamlining of processes, insight-led strategy, and strategic partnerships at all levels. I feel the timing is right to take my professional skills, experience and passion and lead a new dawn in Kenyan football. That’s why I’m running for the presidency,” he says.

Should he get the colossal responsibility of managing Kenyan football, Mwachiro noted that his top-most priority would be the need to bring on board all those with a vested interest in the game and collaboratively define a roadmap – a strategic plan – that will drive the football agenda over the next 10 years.

This priority, he said, is anchored on the need to bring inclusivity at the heart of football administration in Kenya.

“Coming at a time when the game of football is expected to undergo significant changes in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be of top-most priority to walk and work with like-minded partners to ensure a safe return to the field,” he remarks.

The Environmentalist added: “My second priority would be to change the narrative and transform Football Kenya Federation into a professionally-run organisation, by advancing the tenets of transparency and accountability."

"Restoring integrity and fiscal discipline will also be crucial in ensuring that we can command a level of respect and trust where every sponsor feels safe in investing in Kenyan football as a product of value.”

With his clarion call of ‘Soka Mashinani’ Mwachiro suggested that grassroots football takes precedence, more boys and girls should be out there playing football, enjoying playing it, making a positive impact and above all making a living off their God-given talent.

“Coaches will be engaged in football at the grassroots with their primary focus being youth development and talent identification countrywide. Early development of referees and match officials will arise from talent identification as well,” he says.

Despite never having held an elective position in football, Mwachiro will undoubtedly be a familiar face to the 90 or so delegates who will decide who is the President of Football Kenya Federation.

He was the CEO and Event Director of Kenya’s ill-fated bid to host the Africa Nations Championships (CHAN) tournament in 2018 and is currently a Member of the CAF Youth Committee.

He served as the Deputy CEO of the Federation during the tenure of the sacked Robert Muthomi wars off courts and board rooms. His wealth of experience in Marketing and Environmental background saw him appointed National Olympic Committee of Kenya Sports and Environment Committee chairman.

He was also Committee Member, Sports Bill Drafting Committee in 2003.

With the current regime embroiled in a push and pull duel with Sports Disputes Tribunal which nullified two elections over the FKF Electoral Code amongst other issues, Mwachiro was adamant that all stakeholders from the bottom up must be allowed to determine their leaders.

“The sub-branches are affiliated to FKF. Any decision made by the FKF top body touches them. Why should we exclude them, when in actual sense, football is meant to bring us together than pull us apart? he poses.

“The feeling that decisions are made by a select few disenfranchises our football unity over a whole four year life of a federation. We must always seek to bring everyone on board rather than keep some away at the expense of a few people gaining. The football cake is so big, all of us can have a bite,” he adds.

Having served in various capacities at the behest of Mwendwa’s regime, some would consider Mwachiro as part of the status quo. He revealed that, despite stepping down from his position at FKF, his personal relationship with Mwendwa remains cordial.

“We share a common passion for football and in that light, a sense of football brotherhood. As a professional, we have a past which was amicably brought to an end when I stepped down from my role as FKF Deputy CEO in July 2018 after working for six months. Our styles of management were not aligned but that does not in any way take anything away from his style, everyone has a way of doing things,” Mwachiro explains.

With the federation also at war with the Kenyan Premier League as their term of managing the top flight league set to expire in September, Mwachiro opined that the Jack Oguda-led team deserves a pat on the back for how they have managed and transformed Kenya’s top-flight league.

“KPL has done well. Imagine having at least 98% of fixtures honored in 10 years despite the challenges of missing a proper sponsor in about two of those years. Imagine having over 3,500 players (local and international) on its platform, showcasing their talent,”notes Mwachiro.

He added: “When you look at it in terms of those raw numbers, you begin to appreciate what they have done.  It’s clear too, they have had their fair share of challenges, but those are things that can be worked upon and streamlined and that’s my view on it."

"There will be need for reforms arising out of a review. That is normal for any organisation as it evolves into the future. The KPL is our biggest football product away from the Harambee Stars and Harambee Starlets, we can’t kill it and seek another football baby now.”

With football in general struggling to gain financial partners, Mwachiro reiterated that financial stability first and foremost is grounded on the type of systems and structures in place.

“It draws on the level of professionalism injected in managing finances, and a shift in mindset, one that sees everyone within the organisation adopt a business mindset,” he states.

The FKF presidential aspirant, who is likely to lock horns with among others former FKF supremo Sam Nyamweya, long serving former Cecafa Secretary General Nicholas Musonye and Gor Mahia CEO Lodwick Aduda concluded that on another level, football by itself is a very attractive asset that he plans to redefine, package and create an exciting platform that can attract different strategic sponsors.

“By creating different levels of sponsorships, it is possible to have a long-term plan that secures the financial sustainability of the federation. We will engage new unexploited and potential partnerships."

"Many want to take the football journey and develop the game to its full potential. Many want a financially honest football administration that will build trust and confidence in financial management matters,” he concludes.

Only time will tell if the gigantic football commentator can fill the big shoes of managing Kenyan football.