Time ripe to change Kenyan football for benefit of our youth and economy

Gor Mahia

Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier (kneeling, in a white t-shirt) celebrates with the team's playing unit and technical staff after their 3-0 victory over Muhoroni Youths in a KPL match at Sportpesa Arena, Muranga on May 19, 2024.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

By Herald Ndege

As Kenya continues to grapple with the ramifications of the Finance Bill, 2024 protests, an economic crisis may unfold and threaten to reverse many years of Kenya’s socio-economic progress. However, there is opportunity in every crisis.

Kenya’s sports ecosystem can absorb millions of youth but is a neglected industry. Policies implemented so far haven't yielded the desired results.

A lot needs to be done urgently, including developing local markets through football by organizing local and international football events, producing low-cost and affordable football goods and paying footballers competitively.

Increasing capital expenditures in sports to attract labour can also contribute to economic growth. Increasing the Sports Fund kitty and limiting its utilization to sports alone is not only urgent but critical.

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and youth, who are the drivers of the economy, will be the biggest beneficiaries of this initiative.

The initiatives will create jobs and new spending avenues as well as increase the tax bracket.

Private sector

All these are possible if the national government, county governments, private sector, NGOs, private individuals, Football Kenya Federation and other stakeholders work together.

The private sector can partner with Kenyan football to help generate their brand recognition via the various sports events and platforms they are transmitted. The loyalty of football fans to these brands will be felt for generations.

However, there is a major challenge: Lack of credible leadership at FKF is keeping sponsors away.

Transparency, accountability, rule of law and integrity are a banana peel that the current administration at FKF keeps slipping on.

Lack of corporate governance, ineffective internal controls, inaccurate financial reporting, unexplained versus actual budgets, persistent negative cash flow, inadequate segregation of duties, over-reliance on a single customer, high employee turnover, frequent changes of legal counsel, ad infinitum, are one too many red flags at the federation.

Small wonder they have miserably failed to attract significant investments in Kenyan football.

But all is not lost. The impending FKF elections need to pass the integrity test as enshrined in the Constitution and the Sports Act. FKF delegates need to elect officials who have integrity and the business skills to commercialize Kenyan football which will in turn contribute hugely to the health of the Kenyan economy.

Nobody likes change. The only person who likes change is a wet baby. We must walk down this rough path and make difficult but necessary decisions.

The time is ripe to change the face of Kenyan youth via Kenyan football.

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Ndege is the Kenya Soccer Players Association Secretary General