The past weekend was dominated by big talks. Big talks from the Football Kenya Federation (FKF). Big talks on the amounts needed to be pumped into the game. Everything went big.
When all these were happening at Nairobi’s Safari Park, employees of Sony Sugar FC were downing their tools for something much more pressing than the big talks. They couldn’t afford to host a home game. I’d repeat…Sony Sugar FC failed to honour a game in their own backyard.
Even though they have not contacted fans for help or opened a pay bill number to help them honour games as witnessed by other teams facing the same predicaments, there is no hiding that our football is at its deathbed.
As FKF was releasing their Financial statements for the year ended on 31st December, they proposed Sh1.4567 billion budgets for 2020 which was unanimously passed by the 72 delegates who attended their seventh Annual General Meeting.
How to raise the Budget
Of the budget, FKF aims to raise 45 per cent from FIFA grants, 48 per cent from local receipts that include the government, 5 per cent from Safaricom’s grassroots tournament Chapa Dimba while 2 per cent from FIFA grants. A bulk of the money, 57 per cent will be used to run leagues and competitions. Ill solely concentrate on the latter.
The two situations (Sony downing tools and FKF 2020 budget) are extremes, with separate factors specific to their circumstances, but still, represent a wider contrast that is changing the face of football as we know it.
Sony is far from the only club in serious financial trouble or who have just struggled to pay wages. Similar applies to Chemelil Sugar FC (who are yet to win any game this season), Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards (after the withdrawal of Sportpesa) and a chunk of teams who are suffering silently. The 57% might be a step in the right direction but there is a feeling it can’t be enough to sustain almost three-quarters of the team in the Kenyan top flight.
Since we can’t live without football in this country, its time for extraordinary measures to be put in place to help in these situations I want to believe are extraordinary.
For example, in the AGM, FKF President Nick Mwendwa highlighted some of the achievements he managed in his first tenure; training more than 2000 coaches being among these achievements. And as much as I would want to have more than 2000 coaches in the country, I have a feeling that the money channelled towards such should be channeled to the leagues. There is no way you would train that lot when there are no teams, they will put their expertise on.
The money used for these workshops, could example, be used to run the Women league or pay the referees in the National Super League. When investors come on board for the various leagues, or when proper funds flow from various stakeholders to the leagues, only then should FKF put more emphasis on the workshops.
Center of Excellence
The federation even muted of opening more centre of excellence across the counties. The youth programs under this regime have been one of the best and a continuation should be lauded but instead of adding more of these there are things that should first be sorted. Where will the kids play after graduating from the youth level if we have no proper teams?
The entrance of club licensing ought to have sorted all these issues of having substandard clubs to continue operating but since there was a lot that was left unattended to, we are now left with these huge predicaments. What’s hard in having like eight serious teams ready and willing to compete for a top asset.
You can’t force teams to abide by your rules when all they’ll get at the end of a season is a congratulatory clap. Football is business and at the end of the day, claps won’t help them recover the monies used in an entire season.
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