By Kenn Okaka
There are often two sides of a coin, imperative for one to choose the side they want to appear on. This over the past several years has been much the case in the Kenyan football arena with two contrasting groups of former football legends; the ‘legends’ who only appear in the public with a bag of complaints when the Football Kenya Federation elections are on the verge vis-à-vis the football legends, who in retirement, are now impacting on the game.
The choice has always been a personal initiative for one to make the decision whether they will actively engage in football development activities after hanging their boots or move on to venture into other specters of life but for a group of past footballers under the Kenya Football Legends Association, complaints make up for their opportunity to get involved in football.
For those who have chosen to take the path of active development of football, success stories are all but evident with most of them having moved on to take up different roles in the game.
Every time, as FKF approaches the elections period, a bunch of so called Football Legends, who more often than not do nothing for football other than occasionally complaining reappear from the abyss. They notoriously appear during campaigns and make statements, meant to attract allowances from their masters then disappear until the next FKF electioneering period, and that is all they do for the game.
These legends do not coach anywhere even in their villages. Sadly some are experts in ranting on social media under the tag of former players oblivious of the act that their peers, also legends who played football for both clubs ad national teams have stepped up to attain qualifications after graduating from playing to coaching. Some have stepped into football leadership at different levels, some are part of technical benches in different capacities from team managers, physiotherapists, technical directors, match officials while some are football analysts and football commentators, team doctors and sports journalists.
Many of Kenya’s past legends have made the big step to undertake the coaching and coach instructor courses and are now impacting of the game in different capacities while the few of this legends complaining are not involved in football until it is time to politic.
Just recently, I was shocked to listen to a so called football legends that convened a press conference as they sought the audience of the Ministry of Sports asking for FKF elections which everyone knows will be held anyway.
One of the legends was complaining that they have no CAF coaching licences and can therefore not coach anywhere complaining that the current FKF leadership has made coaching harder by introducing coaching courses. The so called football legends were complaining that today if you don not have a CAF-C or CAF-B licence you can not coach a FKFPL or NSL team and according to them that is negative meaning that FKF president Nick Mwendwa should not be elected because he introduced coaching courses and made it mandatory that football clubs should be coached by qualified coaches. How do you even start to reason along that argument as a ‘ legend’ of the game?
In the last seven years since Nick Mwendwa assumed FKF leadership, close to 7,000 coaches from the grassroots level have been equipped with CAF-D to CAF-B coaching courses with two CAF-A classes scheduled before the end of the year..
Today, almost every football team from the grassroots to top tier is coached by a qualified coach, well trained for his level of coaching. Most of this training has been free or at a subsidized cost especially for former footballers while all this while, the complaining ‘legends’ have been sitting pretty, waiting to make noise when elections are called.
The FKF president believes that former footballers have alot to offer for the game underscoring the reason he has been steadfast calling for former footballers to remain relevant in the game by venturing into coaching, refereeing and other specialties around the game by taking up training hence impacting on the growth of the game.
The success stories of past footballers are endless. From former Harambee stars captain Musa Otieno who holds a CAF-B licence as well as a CAF instructor to Tom Juma, the Ex-AFC Leopards midfielder who is now the head coach at the den of AFC Leopards; legends are impacting the game in Kenya positively. Musa has classes every month where he offers CAF-D coaching courses across the country making a huge impact to the empowerment of football coaches in Kenya.
The examples are endless. When the current FKF office was taking over in 2016, Anthony ‘Modo’ Kimani was at the tail end of his playing career at AFC Leopards. Modo took up coaching and has since moved on to be among the notable local coaches in the FKFPL having cached Bandari and now Ulinzi Stars in the premier league having taken coaching courses from CAF-D to CAF-B.
Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno has taken the same route having been a coach already, he was taken for a CAF Instructors course and is now among the CAF instructors in Kenya, interestingly, Kenya is among the few countries which have CAF coaching instructors while most African countries have to rely on importing instructors. Zico is among the Kenyan instructors alongside others like Francis Kimanzi and Salim Ali who can offer Class D,C,and B courses.
The list is endless with Nzoia’s Solomon, Jacob Ghost Mulee, among many others. The empowerment has not stopped at the men’s game as women football has also been impacted. In 2016, Kenya’s first professional women footballer Doreen Bwire was closing to the end of her career. She has since taken up coaching besides heading the women competitions at FKF among other roles in the development of the game.
Imperative to note, all these success stories have stemmed from the will of these legends to continue positively impacting the game in different capacities even after retirement, other that sitting back to make vague complaints when elections approach.