Football needs a new leader who can offer hope for the future

Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba makes his remarks during the opening ceremony for the Talanta Plaza in Upper Hill, Nairobi on September 1, 2023.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The bad news? The election itself isn’t, and can never be a full proof means of bringing about desired change.

Elections for new Football Kenya Federation officials are around the corner. The good news? Some excitement is building and a few notable names are rumoured to be interested in the top seat at Kandanda House.

The bad news? The election itself isn’t, and can never be a full proof means of bringing about desired change.

On Tuesday this week, Kenya Soccer Players Association (KSPA) and Nairobi County Football Association petitioned the CS to intervene so that fair elections can be held to pave way for new leadership at the federation.

They listed a number of reasons why they believe change is required at the top, which, in my opinion, they needn’t do because everyone who knows anything about local football knows that it is at its lowest.

Anyway, they talked about FKF’s failure to comply with the Sports Act, deteriorating standards of the game, and the fact that former players have been ignored and locked out of various programmes.

That last point was brought home by ex-AFC Leopards defender Mickey Weche, and the underlying complaint is that the current administration assumes that they are entitled to control football affairs without the slightest recognition of the expertise of others. It seems this issue of inclusion of former players in local football administration may never go away.

Anyway, they made their point and one hopes that Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba will take their plea seriously and find means of ensuring a free and fair process.

But beyond that, it is important that these former footballers commit to showing us how singular, how novel, how impactful their ideas could be in transforming local football standards.

I mean, we all know how terrible the current office is, what we need from any aspiring football leader is hope for the future.

Show us how blessed you are with ideas on ending match fixing, increasing sponsorship, establishing academies to nurture talent, and proposals on how to improve the standards of women’s football. Ambition, standing alone, might sound expensive, but it is not. No one can change the prospects of local football if the only answer they can offer when asked how different their regime will be is, “how could we be worse?”

In short, their concern for a free and fair election seems genuine and makes sense, but the follow-up is weak. You can’t win this game simply by hoping that your promises will sound better because your reputation is not yet tainted by the demons that possess those in power and turn them into mad men.

Describing the current regime’s shortcomings should be the easy bit. Every day, there’s an event that should be embarrassing, such as dismal performance of national teams, poor management of funds, dubious national team call ups, and so much more.

Persistent underfunding of the leagues, clubs and national team, for which the federation is directly responsible, has left a significant number of players without an income and worse, without a future.

It is hard hearing the obvious from people who actually should have proposed tangible solutions by now. We don’t need someone who can manage our despair, we need better management, period.