A Prescription for Kenya's ailing soccer
25 June 2012, 16:02
It usually beats my understanding how a human being can define so well a piece of idea or law and yet fail to live up to his declarations. This is one of the factors why Kenya sleeps behind as other economic powerhouses of it like soar to great heights with pace that resembles that of a cheetah.
In soccer, Kenya ought to be in the circles of Nigeria and Ghana. Its existence as a national sport spans well over forty years. But look at it, the sport is simply unattractive in our quarters. It’s like we have never had federations and bodies that have run the sport in a manner that exemplifies success.
Over the past seven to ten years, the footballing scene has tried to mend its torn sections and this is without a doubt the most commendable act of this decade. However this repair has been on-going for a very long time without an ultimatum. Every process must have an ultimatum in order to be able to analyse and measure progress or achievement. Others call it success. With the repair taking ages, more tears seem to be occurring almost every day.
Facing Malawi at home, Harambee Stars was expected to display some classical soccer in front of their home fans and bag the three points without much hustle. This is partly because they were on home soil and majorly because fans saw Francis Kimanzi as the right man to revert Kenya’s woes to bliss. During the match, the team looked well prepared and physically fit but this served no good as the team scooped a barren draw leaving them with a dent in their 2014 world cup qualifying campaign. This was seen as not so good a start and people started questioning the chances of the national flag being flown to Brazil.
After the draw, the next qualifier match was just a week away. It was hectic for the team as the match was to be staged in Namibia. A flight to Windhoek ensured an early arrival of the team. After some ample training the match day dawned and fans expected a battled out draw that could at least ensure the rejuvenation of world club hopes. However, the national team were snatched all three points and their dreams left for dead. It is then that the supporters’ fury became evident. Lips started moving against the Harambee Stars and a shake-up was in the air.
Enter the final stretch of a three week FIFA/CAF matches period and Kenya is to face Togo; a team that we had comfortably smashed 2-1 in Nairobi months ago. The general expectation was that a draw be achieved if it’s the least we can do. This was to be all wrong when Togo sunk the Kenyan boat that was heading to AFCON 2014. This left the football governing body in the country with little or no option but to conduct a shake-up in the soccer fraternity. Kimanzi, the UEFA trained first team coach, was sent packing or rather to another office of Technical Director in Football Kenya Federation. Other senior technicians on the bench were also sent home but without a better re-appointment.
Not many of the supporters have seen this as a good move. Thivss thus reveals that there is a good number who see it as a move in the best direction. Whichever is the case does not matter what matters is, can this really bring about tangible change? The coach, technical bench, players and other supporting staff indeed make up the entire team but, the team, with all these officers and individuals cannot make any progress without some basic things. One of them is motivation and the other, drive.
A team needs motivation in order to know that their efforts are being appreciated. Motivation can be either in form of remuneration or words of encouragement and lucrative promises. In the case of Kenya, the team needs to be paid salaries that will encourage the team to play with enthusiasm. A backlog of salaries and allowances always jeopardizes the player’s effort to contribute adequately and efficiently. Look at it from an army perspective; before war, every soldier is asked to affirm if there is anything that is not alright in his life whether it’s family, finances or any personal issues. This is to ensure that his mind is all set for war before he sets off so as not to get distracted and lose focus of mission. The FKF and government should ensure that the players are paid their due payments as soon as possible and as and when they fall due.
Players in the national team need to realize that playing for your country is not celebrity hood but instead an act of patriotism and dedication to one’s country. The pride in playing for your nation or participating on behalf of your nation is something to be regarded as an honour. This is so because, when on the stage, it is your country that is being seen through you and not your skills. Therefore it is only true for the team players and technical bench to put their interests aside and focus on rebuilding the image of the national team through selfless dedication and hard work in order to generate the drive and passion required for winning.
Summing up, you can realize what is required is only a deal between two sides, namely; the federation and government on one side and the technical bench and players on the other side. With these two sides, a deal can be struck which will serve as the modus operandi (Latin for method of operation) and modum relations (mode of relations) between the two. It is as simple as these two tasks and coupled with a time frame, soccer standards may soon be out of the trenches.
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