Leaving Mathare United to die will be a great tragedy

Mathare United players celebrate

From left: Mathare United players Daniel Otieno, Danson Kago and Eugene Wethuli celebrate a goal during their Football Kenya Federation Premier League match against FC Talanta at Ruaraka grounds in Nairobi on January 5, 2022.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • With that death will be the end of dreams and hopes of many young boys and girls who have come to believe that football, and especially through Mathare, is their only sure ticket to the fabled greener pastures. Will someone hear their cry?

It is only a stranger in Jerusalem who can stare at you straight in the face and without batting an eyelid, state that there is no problem in our football.

As many trained mental health care experts will tell you, the first step in dealing with mental health issues and its attendant siblings like addiction and others, is to admit that you have a problem.

Then from the time tested principle of from simple to complex, one will then try to untangle the mess they find themselves in.

I am a strong believer in seeking peaceful solutions to even the most complex of issues.

That there is a problem in our football was well demonstrated over a week ago when my beloved Gor Mahia failed to travel to Kakamega to face off with Talanta FC in a Kenyan Premiership encounter.

Within no time the doomsayers and self-assigned town criers were all over the place claiming that Gor Mahia had boycotted the match because the club was opposed to the FKF Caretaker Committee appointed by Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality on the ground was that with the term of the Committee having elapsed, Gor Mahia were not willing to take the long journey to Kakamega for a match which did not have a clear managerial line.

With the expiry of the term, there was a lacuna and Gor Mahia being a club run by an individual well read in the laws of the land and all other factors governing and affecting the staging of a football match, was not willing to travel all that distance without a clear explanation on the status quo of the match and those in charge.

Just as it should be. In the same breath I am terribly saddened by the present and real possibility that the glamour boys from the slums Mathare United might be staring at the end of the road.

I might have my own personal opinions with the movers and shakers behind the formation and sustenance of Mathare as a team but I must admit that the club has served a very useful purpose not only in our football but in society as a whole. I doff my cap to these ladies and gentlemen.

I know many young men and women whose lives were changed for the better by the club that was born deep in the recesses of the sprawling slum abutting the modern buildings of the Moi Air Base.

Boys and girls have moved themselves and their entire families from the squalor of the life on the rough in the slum to better opportunities elsewhere in this city, the country and abroad. Literally by the straps of their boots, as the popular line goes.

It would be a great tragedy if we were to leave Mathare to drift off and die a natural death.

With that death will be the end of dreams and hopes of many young boys and girls who have come to believe that football, and especially through Mathare, is their only sure ticket to the fabled greener pastures. Will someone hear their cry?

As I near the end of my article I must say that I read a very interesting opinion piece in the Sunday Nation newspaper by one Pharis Kimaru who is the former Communications Director at Football Kenya Federation.

I generally agreed with most of what the good man was saying except for one thing.

Going through his piece a stranger visiting our town would be forgiven to think that the disgraced Nick Mwendwa team that was booted out of office was a congregation of saints that was wronged. I beg to differ.

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