10 years ago, Kenyan clubs performed much better

To say that the performance of Kenya Premier league teams in international has been below par would be an understatement. In fact their performances have been pathetic especially considering what was happening 10 years ago.

Kenyan clubs excelled 10 years ago

The Kenyan league was supposedly in a dark period 10 years ago. With Gor Mahia and AFC constantly battling relegation and with the league being run by an incompetent KFF, Kenya football was in its lowest ebb.

Despite all this however, Kenyan clubs excelled in regional tournaments and performed admirably in continental tournaments. Tusker won the CECAFA club cup in 2000 and again in 2001 when they beat Oserian in an all Kenyan final. Even Ulinzi held their end of the bargain, reaching the CECAFA cup final in 2004 before losing to hosts APR of Rwanda.

On the continental scene too, Kenyan clubs acquited themselves really well. Having eliminated St George of Ethiopia, Tusker came up against Tunisian giants Esperance. They won the 1st leg 2-1 before losing 0-1 in Tunis. With an aggregate score of 2-2, Esperance went through on away goals rule. Not without controversy however. Esperance fielded an ineligible player. Tusker protested but their protests fell on deaf ears.

That same year, Oserian walloped Burundian representatives Arabica Kirundo 5-2 on aggregate. Note that nowdays, both Kenyan clubs and the national team have difficulty beating Burundian sides. In 2013, Harambee stars were eliminated by Burundi CHAN qualifiers while Gor Mahia lost 0-1 to Atletico, a team that was 3rd in the Burundian league.

After beating Arabica, Oserian were matched against Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia. The Twahir Muhiddin coached side won the first leg 4-2 in Naivasha before losing 2-0 in Tunis thus exiting on goal aggregate. It is difficult to imagine a Kenyan team winning 4-2 against Tunisian opposition nowadays.


Anthony Shikubu executes a scissors kick against Etoile Du Sahel. Oserian won 4-2

A year earlier, Tusker lost 3-2 on aggregate to Egyptian giants Al Ahli. They won the 1st leg 1-0 before losing 3-1 in Cairo.

In 2002, it was Oserian who took on Al Ahli in the champions league. The Oserian side coached by Twahir Muhidin and fielding players like Hillary Echesa and Anthony Shikubu, lost 1-2 on aggregate.

In 2005, a Tusker side with players like Mulinge Munandi, Moses Odhiambo, George Owino and Victor Onyango walloped KMKM of Zanzibar 7-1 in the preliminary round before losing 2-3 on aggregate to Egyptian champions Zamalek.

These performances were commendable and a stark contrast to what pertains today. In fact these Kenyan sides would have gone further had they not constantly had to face Egyptian sides.

Recent Regional Tournaments

In 2012, 2013 and 2014, Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards and Tusker all participated in continental and regional tournaments. In 2012, Tusker played in the CECAFA club cup with coach Sammy Omollo at helm. They featured players like Jarry Santo, Joseph Shikokoti, and Peter Opiyo. They exited the CECAFA having finished dead last in their group and scoring no goals.


Peter Opiyo, Shikokoti and others faired poorly

AFC Leopards for their part were in the 2014 Mapinduzi cup. They too existed the tournament having not scored a goal. They lost 0-3 to KCCA of Uganda, lost 0-1 to Simba of Tanzania before ending with a 0-0 draw against lowly KMKM of Zanzibar.

Gor Mahia for their part were in the 2014 CECAFA club cup. They ended with 2 draws and 2 losses, scoring 5 goals and conceding six.

Continental Tournaments

Gor Mahia’s performances in continental tournaments since 2012 has been sorrow inducing. In 2012, they lost 0-4 to Ferroviario of Mozambique. In 2013, they lost 0-3 to ENPPI of Egypt. And in 2014, they succumbed to a 8-2 aggregate loss to Esperance.

Tusker for their part lost 0-1 aggregate to APR of Rwanda in the 2012 Africa champions league. In 2013, they lost both home and away to Al Ahli for a 1-4 aggregate loss. A far cry from 10 years ago when they gave Al Ahli and Zamalek nightmares.

AFC Leopards put on a decent fight but still went down 4-2 to Supersport United of South Africa. It was a lucky break for Leopards not to be pitted against an Egyptian or Tunisian side as is almost always the case, however, they could not take advantage.

Why are the standards falling ?

10 years ago, virtually all Kenyan sides were amateur. The league was haphazardly run, had no sponsor or broadcast partner and was rife with corruption, parallel leagues, constant FIFA bans. The best Kenyan players earned less than KES 20,000 per month. Yet Kenyan clubs still managed performances that were much better than today’s performances. Today’s league has a sponsor, a broadcast partner, is properly run and with better crowds. The player pay is over five times what it was 10 years ago.

Part of the reason is that though teams are better funded, they have not invested in youth development as other African teams have done. The result is that the gap between North African sides and their Kenyan counterparts keep increasing. This gap in technique, tactical awareness and skill levels was laid bare when Gor Mahia played Esperance this year.

More money does not equate better results. Ugandan and Burundian sides do not have better finances than their Kenyan counterparts.

Part of the problem in Kenya is that the City is so crowded that youth growing up in Nairobi today have literally no place to play football and sharpen their skills. This is especially true for youth who live in slum areas. Its a fact that Kenyan players from the 1970s and 1980s were far more skilful than today’s players. In those days, every estate built in Nairobi was built with a playing ground. Today no such planning exists.

 


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Rita Jeptoo wins Chicago and $500,000 bonus

Rita Jeptoo Jeptoo succesfully defended her Chicago marathon title. Jeptoo 33, pumped her fists as she crossed the finish line alone Sunday morning in 2 hours, 24 minutes, 35 seconds before kneeling to the ground in elation. “It was more important to come here to defend my title,” she said. “I like the course. I was very happy again.” said Jeptoo. Jeptoo was in the leading pack until mile 23 upon which she took control.

In the process she won the World Marathon majors that comes with a prize of $500,000. Jeptoo has now won four straight marathons. Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba finished second in 2:25:37, and Kenya’s Florence Kiplagat finished third in 2:25:57.

Leading Results

1 Rita Jeptoo (KEN) 2:24:35
2 Mare Dibaba (ETH) 2:35:37
3 Florence Kiplagat (KEN) 2:25:57
4 Birhane Dibaba (ETH) 2:27:02
5 Amy Hastings (USA) 2:27:03
6 Clara Santucci (USA) 2:32:21
7 Sarah Crouch (USA) 2:32:44
8 Gelete Burka (ETH) 2:34:17
9 Melissa White (USA) 2:34:19
10 Lauren Jimison (USA) 2:34:38


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Shades of 2003 as Eliud Kipchoge beats Bekele

In windy conditions, Eliud Kipchoge beat a strong field that included Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele to win the 2014 Chicago marathon in an impressive time of 2:04:11. Two other Kenyans Sammy Kitwara and Dickson Chumba (2:04:32) finished second and third respectively. Bekele came in fourth in 2:05:51.

Kipchoge took control of the race at the 24th mile point when he unleashed a 4:33 mile. Up to that point, the race had been close with Kitwara, Chumba and Bekele close by.

Impressive Marathon record.

This is only Kipchoge’s 4th marathon. He clocked 2:05:30 in the Hamburg Marathon to win in his marathon debut. In September 2013 he clocked 2:04:05 in the Berlin Marathon to take 2nd Place to Wilson Kipsang’s world record. And in April 2014 he clocked 2:05:00 to win the Rotterdam Marathon.

Impressive win over Bekele

Much was expected from the Ethiopian legend with some even suggesting he would challenge Dennis Kimetto’s recent marathon record. This after all is the man who dominated the track for several years and still holds the world records at the 5K and 10K. Bekele will now go back to the drawing board. “I need to analyze my training.” said Bekele. His manager Jos Hermens said hat Bekele needs to do longer runs. Nevertheless Bekele has run two sub 2:06 times in his first two marathons and cannot be counted out in the future.

Shades of the 2003 World Championships

At the 2003 World Athletics championships, Eliud Kipchoge was a virtual unknown. And at 18 years old, young enough to be a form four student, no one gave him a chance to win the world championships, especially since he would be competing against two legends, Kenenisa Bekele and the Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj.


In the 2003 world championships, Kipchoge shocked Bekele, El Guerrouj and the whole world

Leading Results

1 Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) 2:04:11
2 Sammy Kitwara (KEN) 2:04:28
3 Dickson Chumba (KEN) 2:04:32
4 Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) 2:05:51
5 Bernard Koech (KEN) 2:08:30
6 Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (ERI) 2:09:08
7 Lani Rutto (KEN) 2:10:42
8 Wesley Korir (KEN) 2:11:09
9 Bobby Curtis (USA) 2:11:20
10 Koji Kobayashi (JPN) 2:11:43


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Mediocre management dooms Kenya basketball

Kenya recently participated in the Africa zone 5 competition. This tournament was used as qualifiers for the African Basketball Championships for both men and women.


Team Kenya pose before taking on Rwanda

Kenya did not qualify. But both Uganda’s men and women’s teams qualified for the African championships. It is a watershed event for Uganda basketball. Their men’s team had not qualified for the continental competition since 1970. They qualified after they beat Rwanda 69-61 after having beaten Kenya 83-71. Kenya men also lost to Rwanda 82-77.

First Time ever for Uganda basketball

The Ugandan women’s team had never qualified for any continental competition be it the African championships or the All African games. The Uganda women beat their Kenyan counterparts 64-61 in the deciding match.
Congratulations are in order for their monumental achievement. But it  was not a fluke. It was the result of forward planning.

Solid Preparations by Uganda

Uganda had a national teams’ steering committee (NTSC) that was responsible for preparing the team for the Zone V tournament. Both teams were never short of resources. Player welfare and allowances was top priority and all the players had to do was go out and perform.
In the past, preparations for team Uganda started about 3 weeks before any tournament. This time Uganda started residential training as far back as June, 3 months before the tourney.
They had handsome allowances on a daily basis and were camped at Hotel Africana throughout the two-week tournament. However, the biggest credit for the NTSC was their resolve in flying in four foreign-based Ugandans. It was also their efforts that brought on board Coca-Cola, Club Ambiance, Lin Long and City Tyres as sponsors of the tournament.

Here is a rare case where officials get sponsorship money and use it primarily to enhance the welfare of the players.

Foreign Players

Unlike Kenya which never calls its foreign based players, Uganda called up four foreign based players to bolster their squad: Josh Johnson (Ipswich BBC), John Baligwire (free agent), Kasim Nagwere (Fryshuset Basket),  and Samuel Mukooza (Jamtland Basket).
John Baligwire who used to play for Southeast Oklahoma State in USA college basketball, was named the most outstanding player of the tournament for Uganda.

Uganda coach Mandy Juruni was full of praise for the foreign based players.
These players shoot the ball better, so they give us the option of having consistent shooters. There also moments in a game when the individual brilliance of a player can bail the team.” –

Uganda was able to call up their foreigners due to the sponsorship they received along with forward planning  and incentives.

Kenya has always had high calibre players based in foreign league.In fact at present, Kenya has players like Tyler Okari Ongwae who had a superb season in USA college basketball, as well as other USA based players like Robinson Opong, Joel Awich and JP Nyadaro who now plays professional basketball in Canada. There is also players of Kenyan descent like Omondi Amoke and Robert Nyakundi who play in Europe.

But in contrast to Uganda, Kenya rarely has the capacity to perform the forward planning needed to bring the players. Nor do they have the funding. And most important, Kenya does not incentivize foreign based players as Uganda has. In fact on several occasions, Kenya players have been subjected to shabby treatment by officials.

Speaking of shabby treatment, this is precisely the reason why inspirational captain Silalei Shani-Owuor decided to retire from the national team. Among other things, players are made to travel incredible distances and are rarely paid their allowances in a timely manner.

It goes without saying that the presence of Silalei Shani-Owuor with her vast experience would have made a difference. And better still, she is the kind of player that KBF can use to market the sport. That is only if we had thinkers at KBF.

Sponsorship and marketing

Uganda does a much better job of marketing their sport. It comes as no surprise that they had a number of sponsors like City Tyres, Ling Long, Castle Lite and Coca Cola, there was a smooth flow of roles and responsibilities and overall general outlook of the competition.

And Uganda is not resting on their laurels. FUBA president Ambrose Tashobya said they would build on this success to promote and market basketball in Uganda.
“But it is most of this moment. The impact of this will depend on how well we harness it. In life, everyone gets their chance and time but it is up to how you use it. This is the time for Ugandan basketball and we must make the most of it.”
Nevertheless, Kenya do

But Tashobya also outlined some of the immediate benefits likely to follow the national teams’ successes. “Our achievements broke the mental barriers off local basketball,” Tashobya explained.

“We proved that we can beat Kenya and Rwanda, which many doubted. This success will also build aspiration among young players because if you come from a family where no one has driven a car it might be hard for you to aspire for it.

“Thirdly playing at the continental stage will get the focus of Africa and World on Uganda and it also gives us a chance to sell the game to the rest of the country.”


Samba Mjomba, Hilda Indasi and others have had much success over the years

You will rarely hear this kind of forward thinking or planning from Kenyan officials. The victory by the Ugandan teams is being promoted and touted all over the country, in their newspapers and on television. Meanwhile the Kenya women’s basketball team has had numerous successes over the years. But hardly anyone ever notices because the Kenya federation does not seem to have the wherewithal or the knowledge or perhaps even the desire to promote their successes.

Indeed the Kenya players are to be commended. The women’s team beat Egypt and Uganda in their opening games. In their last match against Uganda, it was the home crowd that pulled the Ugandans through. And the Ugandans only won by three points.

The Future does not look bright for Kenya


Upper Hill, Kenya’s national champions, fared poorly at the East Africa school games

Kenya does not seem to be getting it right at the youth level either. At the recent East Africa school games, Upper Hill, Kenya’s representatives, did not make it beyond the quarter-final. They lost to eventual winners, Lord Baden Powell secondary of Tanzania. What is the world coming to when the Kenya national champions are losing to their Tanzanian counterparts?
And in the Africa Zone 5 Under-18 competition, Kenya’s boys team lost to Uganda 86-58 while the girls also lost to Uganda 62-48.

Kenya’s losses at youth level are symptomatic of the malaise that plagues Kenya basketball. In years past, Kenya thoroughly dominated their neighbours like Rwanda and Uganda and definately Tanzania. About 10 years ago, Rwanda started making strides and soon their youth teams were blasting Kenya by as much as 50 points. Now Tanzania and Uganda youth teams are beating Kenya comprehensively. This will soon translate to the senior level. Kenya basketball fans ought to be alarmed !

Can Kenya Learn?

If you are a fan of Kenya basketball, you would be right to be concerned at the direction Kenya basketball is heading. Can Kenyan basketball officials learn from their Ugandan counterparts?

Speaking of learning from Uganda, in 2003, Kenyan rugby fans were dismayed when the Kenya sevens team lost twice to Uganda at home.Uganda also went ahead and won the Africa 15 aside rugby championship before Kenya ever did. And their women’s team would routinely beat their Kenyan counterparts. Uganda was seen as a fast rising side in rugby while Kenya appeared to be sinking. The Kenya rugby fraternity demanded changes. As luck would have it, a new KRFU chairman was elected. Kenya rugby has improved significantly since the debacle of 2003. They reached the rugby sevens world championships semi-finals twice. And Uganda has not beaten Kenya at sevens since 2003. On top of that, Kenya won the African fifteen a side championships in 2013 and beat Uganda 52-11 on the way.

Can Kenya basketball officials learn from their rugby counterparts? Can they emulate the good organization of Uganda basketball officials?  It is unlikely.

Kenyan basketball officials have never shown the kind of commitment to success that the Ugandan officials have shown. They have never shown this level of organization, ability to plan ahead, market the sport, promote the sport etc. In fact the only thing we know that Kenya basketball officials can do is organize a league.

And Kenya has a sports minister who does not show much interest in sports, rarely shows initiative and probably does not even know what is going on in the Kenya basketball scene. However just as the rugby fraternity effected much needed changes in the way rugby was being run, the Kenya basketball fraternity should also demand a level of competence and organization from the people charged with running the sport.


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Another sham hosting bid by Kenya

According to the Daily Nation, Kenya has launched a formal bid to host the 2017 Africa Nations cup. The 10-page document was presented to the Confederation of African Football (Caf) headquarters in Cairo by locally based Fifa-licensed agent Francis Gaitho on behalf of football authorities hours before the deadline lapsed last evening. Libya which was due to host the event, withdrew due to security reasons.

The venues being mooted are Nyayo, Kasarani, Moi Stadium in Mombasa, Kipchoge Keino in Eldoret and the refurbished Moi Stadium Kisumu. A tentative budget of Sh1.5 billion has been earmarked for the process with a larger chunk expected to go towards rehabilitating the existing facilities and infrastructure.


This is the Kipchoge Keino stadium in Eldoret that officials claim can be refurbished sufficiently by 2017

A familiar story

Initially, FKF chairman announced that there would be a joint bid between Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. “I am delighted that Uganda and Rwanda have received positively the proposal by FKF to jointly pursue interest in bidding to host the 2017 Orange CAF Africa Cup of Nations after the bids were reopened following the withdrawal of Libya as the host nation,” said Nyamweya.

Days later, Tanzania announced that they were not party to the joint bid, much to the embarrassment of Kenya football fans. In any case a joint bid featuring three countries with poor infrastructure and transport links is impractical from a logistics nightmare. Any semi-intelligent person would have been able to see through Nyamweya’s sham.

Last year, Nyamweya eagerly announced that Kenya would bid to host the 2019 Africa Nations cup. He did this without consulting the government. In the end, Kenya’s bid was dismissed by CAF for being time-barred. Its not clear whether Nyamweya was even serious with that bid. Or perhaps he was trying to distract attention from the shoddy performance of FKF which among other things, saw Kenya lose to Burundi.

Kenya has no chance

When Kenya was awarded hosting rights for the 1996 Africa nations cup, it was under the condition that they build another stadium outside Nairobi. And Mombasa was proposed as the likely venue. However the Kenya government was never serious about the bid. It was sabotaged because the government did not want KFF chairman Joab Omino to get any credit because he was an opposition leader. In the end, CAF banned Kenya from the AFCON for 4 years.

Because of that debacle, CAF will not trust Kenya to host the competition unless the stadia are already built. This is especially true when you consider that the tournament is only two and half years away and Kenya has a lousy record in refurbishing stadia. Refurbishing the Kisumu stadium took six years ! And it is still incomplete.

Nothing has changed since then. Kenya still has not built a second stadium outside Nairobi which means they have not met the minimum conditions set by CAF 20 years ago. The stadiums being proposed to host the event are stadia that were built by the colonialists in the 1940s. Refurbishing 70 year old stadiums that seat less than 10,000 fans will not sway CAF. Not when the likes of Ethiopia and Zambia are building  50,000 seat stadia.


This is the new Kisumu stadium that took 6 years to refurbish and is still inadequate even with money from FIFA and the Kenya government

The Africa Nations cup is the showcase event for Africa. It is televised all over Africa and Europe and CAF will not want low calibre stadia like the ones Kenya is proposing to be shown on television screens all over the world. Even the new Machakos stadium, as impressive as it is , cannot host an event of this magnitude.

And Kenya’s hosting pedigree is quite frankly embarrassing as evidenced by the scenes during the 2013 CECAFA senior challenge cup when teams were locked in their hotels due to non-payment. It was so bad that even Zanzibari team members vowed never to play in any tournament hosted by Kenya again. With this kind of shoddy organization, CAF would be crazy to give Kenya hosting rights at short notice when better qualified bidders like Algeria are available

Successive Kenya governments have been promising new stadia only to renege on their promises. Its a shame. Aside from enabling Kenya to host continental events like the Africa cup of nations, it might also enable Kenya to host a leg of the IRB sevens series. Remember IRB strongly prefers that tournaments are held at sea level and in modern stadia. And to meet IRB and modern FIFA specifications, it would need to be a stadium without a running track. There is no point putting a running track since there are already dozens of stadia with running tracks.


Its time to replace the stadium in Mombasa

 

Kenyans should therefore urge the government to build at least one new stadium. It is a shame that only two stadiums have been built in Kenya since independence in 1963. And no new stadium has been built since Kasarani was built in 1987. The time to end empty promises is now. the time to stop this sham bids is now.


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Kenyan marathoners now own 11 of the 12 fastest times

Following Dennis Kimetto’s superb perfomance at the 2014 Berlin marathon in which Kimetto not only broke the world record, but also became the first man to run under 2:03:00, Kenyans now own 11 out of the top 12 times ever run in the marathon.

A history of mediocrity

Though Kenya has always produced excellent distance runners since as far back as the 1950s, the marathon is the one event that Kenya had never done well. Before 2003, the world marathon record shuttled between nations like Great Britain, Australia, Japan and Portugal. Even Ethiopia produced two world record holders, the legendary Abebe Bikila in 1964 and Dinsamo Belayneh in 1988. Kenyan marathoners not only did not set any records during this period but were never even in contention to win City marathons or championship medals.

In fact Ethiopia’s marathon pedigree was well above Kenya. In 1964, Abebe Bikila shocked the world by winning the Olympic gold while running barefoot. At the 1968 Olympics for example, Kenya performed very well on the track, winning 3 gold and 4 silver to finish third overall. In the marathon however, Kenya was abysmal. The best placed Kenyan was Nafatali Temu who finished 19th. Amazingly, he had already won gold in the 10,000m. Ethiopian Mamo Wolde won the marathon gold on that day. The 1972 Olympics were even worse as Richard Juma, the only Kenyan did not finish. The pattern continued at several Olympics, Commonwealth games and world championships. At the 1983 world championships, Kenya did not even bother to enter a runner, while Kebede Balcha of Ethiopia won the silver medal.

Joseph Nzau gave Kenya its only decent performance of this  period when he finished 7th at the 1984 Olympics. In fact even Tanzanian marathoners like Juma Ikangaa and Gidamis Shahanga did better than Kenya. For example, Ikangaa won the African championships marathon in 1982 and Commonwealth games silver in 1982. At the 1984 Olympics, he finished 18 seconds ahead of the top Kenyan Nzau.

Matters came to a head at the 1987 All Africa games which Kenya hosted. The Kenyan team thoroughly dominated the track, winning every track medal from the men’s 800m to the men’s 10,000m. On the women’s side, Kenya was even more impressive, winning all the gold medals from the 400m to the 10,000m. And it was often a 1-2-3 finish for Kenya on the track. In the marathon, however, Kenya’s mediocrity continued : Ethiopia bagged gold, silver and bronze. 4th place went to a Tanzanian. The top Kenyan was 5th

Douglas Wakihuri & Ibrahim Hussein Kenya’s marathon pioneers.

1987 was a watershed year for Kenyan marathoners Ibrahim Hussein became the first Kenyan to win a major city marathon when he won the New York marathon. That same year, Douglas Wakiihuri became the first Kenyan to win the marathon at a major championship when he won the gold medal at the 1987 World athletics championships. Prior to that, the Japan based Wakiihuri was a virtual unknown in Kenya and elsewhere. It was an amazing feat since this was his first major competition.

From this point on, Kenyan runners established themselves at the top tier. Wakiihuri went on to win the silver medal at the 1988 Olympics and won the New York Marathon in 1990. Hussein won the Boston Marathon three times, starting a strong tradition of Kenyan runners in that City: In the last 23 years, the marathon has been won by a Kenyan 17 times ! Kenyan runners have been just as dominant in the London marathon, winning 8 of the last 10.

Record wise, Paul Tergat became when the first Kenyan to break the world record in Berlin in 2003. He held the record until Haile Gebreselassie broke it in 2007. Patrick Makau reclaimed the record in 2011. This was then followed by Wilson Kipsang in 2013 and Dennis Kimetto in 2014.

Though Kenyan runners dominated the event throughout the 1990s and the new millennium, they did not win the Olympic gold medal. And in the world championships, Kenya went 20 years without winning gold. The reason for this dry spell was because it was difficult to convince the top marathoners to run at the Olympics where there is no prize money.  In the intervening period, Eric Wainaina won bronze medals at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.

That changed upon the realization that winning Olympic gold can actually enhance a runners profile and increase his appearance fees at major city marathons. Samuel Wanjiru became the first Kenyan to win the Olympic gold when he won in 2008 in Beijing.

In the world championships, Kenya’s drought ended in 2007 when Luke Kibet won the gold medal in Tokyo. Following Kibet’s feat in 2007, Abel Kirui followed up with two successive gold medals at the 2009 and 2011 world championships.

Why did Kenya suddenly become good at the marathon?

The best runners have all migrated to the marathons and half marathons  because road racing has become far more lucrative than track racing. Winning a major city marathon such as New York can get the winner $100,000 in prize money. There are also bonuses that come from shoe sponsors as well as bonuses for setting course records. And World Marathon Majors title comes with a prize of $500,000.

Meanwhile on the track, opportunities to win have become fewer. The 10,000m race which used to feature at Grand Prix races in places like Brussels is no longer featured in the Diamond league series. 5000m races have become fewer and fewer. As such all the best distance runners have migrated to the road races. Even the top Ethiopian and North American runners are now mostly on the roads.Where runners used to aspire to run in the Olympics, they now aspire to be road runners. Kimetto for example has never run on the track.

The fact that all the best distance runners are now on the roads largely explains why the marathon record is broken more often than it used to.


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Dennis Kimetto breaks world marathon record

Dennis Kimetto made history when he became the first person ever to break the 2:03:00 barrier in the marathon. He stopped the clock at 2:02:57 to win the 2014 Berlin Marathon. Second placed Emmanuel Mutai who clocked 2:03:13 also beat the previous record set last year by Wilson Kipsang.

There was a lead group of six men and the rabbits who ran  the first half of the race in 1:01:45 (2:03:30 pace). Kimetto ran the second half of the race in a lightning fast 1:01:12. That would have put him among the world leaders in the half marathon this season. This was the fifth men’s world record set in Berlin in the last eight years. It started with Paul Tergat in 2003, followed by Haile Gebreselassie, then Patrick Makau, Wilson Kipsang and now Dennis Kimetto.

Abera Kuma of Ethiopia finished a distant third in 02:05:56. Geoffrey Kamworor, the 2011 world junior cross country champion, finished fourth in 02:06:39. At age 22, he has a brilliant future ahead of him.

Kimetto, a man out of nowhere

The 30 year old Kimetto is a man whose meteoric rise to fame is the stuff movies are made of. He only started running three years ago at age 27. Prior to that he had been a subsistence farmer. That was until he was discovered by a member of Geoffrey Mutai’s running group.

His first major win came in Nairobi’s Half Marathon in 2011. In  2012 he ran the fastest ever marathon debut (2:04.16) when he finished second to Geoffrey Mutai. He also set the world record in the 25km road race with a time of 71:18 which was over 30 seconds faster than the previous record.

In 2013 he won the Tokyo Marathon, setting a course record of 2:06.50, and then the 2013 Chicago Marathon in a course record of 2:03.45 — where he also beat Emmanuel Mutai into second place.

An interesting fact about Kimetto is that he has never run in a track meet.

Kimetto’s Prize Money

Kimetto will get 50,000 euros for the win, 30,000 euros for breaking 2:04 and 50,000 euros for the WR. So 120k euros total , that’s roughly $154k.

In addition, he will likely pick up a hefty bonus from his shoe sponsors. His appearance fees will skyrocket and he may win an extra $500,000 if he wins the world marathon majors title.


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On Musa Otieno’s call to support local football

Former Harambee stars skipper Musa Otieno teamed up with Tusker to make a passionate appeal to Kenyan football fans to support their local clubs. Popularly known as “Otero”, Musa who is the current Harambee stars assistant coach, made the valid point that the national team will not thrive unless Kenyans support their local clubs which are the backbone on which the national team is built.

European leagues, especially the English premier league have literally taken over the attention of Kenyan football fans to a much larger extent than when “Otero” was in his heyday in the mid to late 1990s. As he said in that video, when Kenya played Nigeria in 1997, the stadium at Kasarani was filled with 60,000 roaring fans. Contrast this with the situation when Kenya played Nigeria at Nyayo stadium in 2013. Even though Kenya had come very close to beating Nigeria in Calabar a few weeks earlier, they could only muster about 20,000 fans.

However all is not lost. Tusker who typically get paltry crowds as low as 100 when they play in Nairobi, were received enthusiastically when they played home games at Kinoru stadium in Meru. This shows that there is a pent up demand for local football in some pockets.

Its worth examining what can be done to further boost interest in local football.

Government should Support community clubs

Successive Kenya governments have done very little to boost community clubs. The current government has not only been unhelpful but in some cases has been outright hostile towards clubs. Such was the case the government slapped Gor Mahia with a ridiculous bill of Ksh 118 million. It is likely true that Gor Mahia owes taxes but the figure of Ksh 118 million and the threat to confiscate all the gate collections and sponsorship money coming to the club smacks of malice and a personal vendetta. Rather than harass club’s like this, the government ought to work with clubs. With this kind of harassment, it comes as no surprise when Kenyan clubs perform poorly against foreign opposition.

As part of helping top Kenyan sides, the government should help top sides recover land they own which is now occupied by squatters. This will help the clubs start to build an asset base.

Come through on Election promises

One of the promises made by this government before they were elected was that they would incentivize individuals to encourage them to invest in sports. One of the proposals floated was to provide land to individuals who wish to invest in football teams. The land could be used to build a training ground, a club house and perhaps even a stadium.

This is especially important since community teams are much better at drawing crowds and gaining the attention of the public than institution based teams.

Upgrade stadia and enhance security

When the stadium in Machakos was renovated, the crowds came enthusiastically. Better facilities including seating, restrooms, concessions stands and most importantly better security will attract fans to stadia. Ultimately, fans want to be seated comfortably, have good sight-lines to the football field and be assured of their security. With this in mind, the national and county governments should do their part by upgrading stadia like the Mombasa Municipal stadium, Nairobi city stadium and Afraha stadium.

Gor Mahia fans at the newly reconstructed Machakos stadium

Clubs must market themselves

Clubs can take basic steps to promote themselves among Kenya sports fans. For clubs that struggle to fill the stadia, they should allow children who are accompanied by adults to enter the stadia free of charge. Remember that these children are the future paying fans so by letting them in free, you are creating memories and building a future fan base.

This should matter to the government

Promoting local clubs can create more employment opportunities, not just for the players, but also for the coaches, journalists, physios and others. And every government has a vested interested in reducing unemployment.

Promoting local clubs also makes the economy stronger. As things stand now, Kenyan football fans are making the British economy stronger. The English premier league earns revenues of over 3 Billion British pounds mostly from hefty television contracts. By promoting local leagues, a slice of that money could remain locally.

County governments also have a vested interest in helping promote local clubs. Meru governor recently cited Gor Mahia as one of the reasons he is spending Ksh 200m to upgrade Kinoru stadium in Meru and millions more to set up a sports academy in his county.

Munya said his government considers sports as a major business for locals due to high number of people attend matches at the stadium, hence the heavy investment.

“People spend in our hotels when teams come to Kinoru stadium. Food suppliers will also get business. When Gor Mahia came to play Tusker, all hotel rooms were full. We want to sustain this.” said Munya.

Summary

Changing the culture of Kenya football from one that adores the English premier league to one that supports will take a long term vision and active participation by all stakeholders including the county governments

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Maze by Tabu Ley (Translated)

The period of the late 1970s and early 1980s At the height of the rivalry between Tabu Ley and Franco. In 1980, Tabu released this blockbuster of a song called “Maze” about a woman who was a love interest. The release of the song co-incided with Tabu Ley’s first ever tour of Kenya during which he wowed enthusiastic crowds with his innovative stage show and up-tempo beats. The song Maze became such a hit in Kenya that the word “Maze” was incorporated into the local sheng language of Nairobi. And now over 3 decades later, the word “Maze” is still used in Nairobi as a way to express exclamation.

Kitoko etondi yo nzoto maze

Bandeko botala maze na lineti

Bolingo ngai na ye tokanga na libanga

Ongena mafuta wolo na nzoto

Part 2

Maze bakanisi ngai nakanga yo na ndako ya nganga

I love you, baby touch me

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Les Rumeurs by Franco (Translated)

This was one of Franco’s very last songs. Though he recorded it before he passed away, it was released in 1992, three years after Franco’s passing. Franco recorded the song during the period when he had become overcome by illness, had lost almost half his weight. His thunderous bass voice had become a shell of its former self. The media and Zaireans in general had a field day speculating and rumour mongering about Franco’s illness and his impending death. Franco was very bitter about all the rumour mongering and hence he composed this song.


 


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