The Africa Cup of Nations tournament kicked off Sunday with pomp and colour.
The parade of teams during the opening ceremony was dazzling. Some teams arrived in Cameroon complete with their own chefs and food!
The Nigerian and Sierra Leone mothers, and footballers’ wives were on their knees praying for the players before they headed for the continental showpiece.
There was much more on the sidelines that stole football fans’ hearts even before football proper kicked off.
It was all very inspiring, and it gave us that authentic African feeling that had been elusive when the continent chocked in the yoke of colonialism!
Football is not just a game; it is more than that! It can make us fight just as well as it can make us have loads of peace.
The only heartbreak for us is that as nations trooped to Cameroon, Kenya was not among them.
It is not because we do not have the ability to go there; it is not because we are too poor to afford taking good care of our national team…it is none of the above.
Our problem is poor management and simple greed that is killing us in the most cruel fashion.
We are sure and can bet our lives on it that if Kenya’s Harambee Stars were in this championship, we would at this time be holding our chins in shame.
The travel plans would have been shambolic and it would come as no surprise if the team arrived late for the kick off; the players’ allowances would not have been paid and the team would be stranded outside some dingy hotel before officials make payments; the mothers, grandmothers and relatives of the officials would be shopping in Yaoundé and the kits of the players would have been conveniently forgotten in Nairobi
This scenario has happened to Kenyan sportsmen and women at major competitions too many times that we have lost count.
All Kenyans know this and we are never surprised at all. It happened during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil; it happened at the last Afcon in Cairo and we expect more drama in the future! It is fast becoming our badge of shame, and we must fight it.
For instance, an example of good preparation can even be seen in Senegal. The country is almost smaller than Kenya’s former Rift Valley Province, but it is far ahead and it knows the importance of sports.
The team first assembled in Rwanda, trained and bonded there before heading to Cameroon for the tournament. Now, we ask, could Football Kenya Federation (FKF) have managed such a feat?
Football in this country is slowly being killed, and the forthcoming election of FKF must be closely monitored.
There must be certain thresholds put forward for the candidates; they must have certificates of good conduct and many other things to prove they are nothing near what past administrations have been.
It is a shame that we are not in the Afcon, and just have to nominate teams to support. It is sad!