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Impact or vague? A look at the football ‘legends’ claim on lack of opportunities

By Kenn Okaka September 7th, 2023 4 min read

There are often two sides to a coin, imperative for one to choose the side they want to appear on.

This 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 Football Kenya Federation (FKF) polls 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, 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 fact that their peers, also legends who played football for both clubs and 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, trainers technical directors, match officials while some are football analysts, video 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 the game in different capacities while the few of these legends complaining are not involved in football until it is time to politic.

Just recently, I was shocked to listen to so-called football legends convene a press conference as they sought the audience of the Ministry of Sports with a request for FKF elections which everyone knows will be held anyway.

One of the legends was complaining that they have no Confederation of African (CAF) coaching licenses 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 if you do not have a CAF – C or CAF – B license you can not coach a Football Kenya Federation Premier League (FKF-PL) or National Super League (NSL)  club.

This, they claim is enough reason for FKF president Nick Mwendwa to be vowed out of office 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?

Since Nick Mwendwa assumed FKF leadership in 2016, 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 2023.

Today, almost every football team from the grassroots to the 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 former footballers have a lot to offer for the game underscoring the reason he has been steadfastly 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 former footballers are endless. From former Harambee stars captain Musa Otieno who holds a CAF-B licence as well as a CAF instructor licence to Tom Juma, the ex-AFC Leopards midfielder who is now the head coach at the top-flight club.

Legends are impacting the game in Kenya positively. Musa has classes every other month where he offers CAF-D coaching courses across the country making a huge impact on 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 coached Bandari and is now head coach at Ulinzi Stars in the top-flight having taken coaching courses from the basic level, CAF-D to CAF-B.

Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno has taken the same route having been a coach already, he was offered a CAF Instructors course and is now among the CAF and FIFA 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 team of Kenyan instructors alongside Francis Kimanzi, Twahir Muhidin, and Salim Ali who offer Class D, C, and B courses.

The list is endless with Nzoia’s Godfrey Odhiambo ‘Solo’, Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee, among many others.

The empowerment has not stopped at the men’s game as women’s football has also been impacted.

In 2016, Kenya’s first professional women’s footballer Doreen Bwire was close to the end of her career. She has since taken up coaching besides heading the women’s competitions at FKF among other roles in the development of the game.

Nabwire is now FKF’s head of competition while Harambee Starlets coach Beldine Odemba, Florence Adhiambo ‘Kadwalo’, and Jackline Juma are established, coaches and instructors.

Other notable coaches who have risen through the ranks include Bidco United’s coach Anthony Akhulia who has grown from being a kits manager to an established top coach, KCB FC coach Benard Mwalala who has also been trained from CAF-D to now CAF-B and is now the head coach at KCB, Kenya Police assistant coach Salim Babu.

Leonard Odipo is another top CAF instructor while other upcoming coaches include former Kenya goalkeeper Francis Onyiso who is now a CAF C holder, Francis Ochola, coach Elvis “Valdo” Ayany, Nicholas Muyoti, John Baraza, among many other legends of the game.

Imperative to note that 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 than sitting back to make vague complaints when elections approach.

The writer is a Communications Consultant

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