Here is the Kenyan version of Jorge Mendes
BY DAVID KWALIMWA
The emergence of former journalist and football administrator, George ‘Mendes’ Bwana, as the “Mr Fix it” in the Kenyan football transfer market is a story worth telling.
Bwana, who has earned the nickname of his role model, renowned international football super agent, Jorge Mendes, has been central in sealing lucrative deals for Kenyan players seeking greener pastures in the neigbouring countries.
In 2015 alone, Bwana’s Agency – Airtime Communications – has negotiated deals for four Kenyan internationals, David ‘Calabar’ Owino (Zesco United), Jacob Keli (Nkana FC), Allan Wanga (Azam FC) and Anthony Akumu (Zesco United) to join the paid ranks in Zambia and Tanzania in the process raking in considerable commission.
The man took time to open up to Nairobi News this week.
“Player transfer is a lucrative business, but it isn’t as easy as many people tend to think. It is a game of poker. You have to really strategise on how to convince your potential clients to try your product,” Bwana said.
The father of one, who formerly worked as Gor Mahia’s Secretary General, says football transfers has always been his ideal business.
“This is only my second year in this business and I am satisfied with the way things have worked. People will ask why only Tanzania and Zambia. But then, we had to start from somewhere. I am glad every player we worked with – save for Wanga – earned a substantive increase in his wages. I have been accumulating very vital contacts that will propel the company to the next level,” Bwana said.
Bwana admits the continuous exodus of Kenyan players mainly to African leagues is a source of concern.
“True, we should be sending players to Europe. In my opinion that isn’t happening because we lack the contacts. I believe with time that will change. Still, the transfer of players brings a cycle. One leaves, and he is replaced instantly. I look forward to the day when Kenyan clubs will pay over $100,000 (Sh10 million) for the transfer of a player, although this figure is still way lower than what other clubs in Africa are paying,” Bwana says.
For now, the agent hopes to extend his reach to other top leagues in the continent including Egypt and South Africa before venturing into the European market.