AFC Leopards popularly known as “Ingwe’’ is unquestionably home of some of the country’s finest footballers.It was in November 2017 when I was privileged to meet one of my childhood football idols who played for AFC Leopards and Harambee Stars. I had met him before in other football forums but this time he was my guest. One of the best defenders football has produced in the country. A defender who had ability, agility, strength and spirit. The player is Mickey Weche “T9” undeniably a giant in the game. The history maker narrated to me his remarkable football career as we enjoyed a delicacy of deep fried chicken.
Mickey Weche “T9” started playing his football in Mariakani estate in Nairobi alongside another soccer great the late Francis Kadenge. While at Dagorreti high school he played for Mackenzie Hughes which would later become CMC motors.
An extraordinary Leopards team
After high school Mickey Weche began his love affair with AFC Leopards by 1984. These were the years when football was the people’s game in Kenya. They are the memorable moments when Ingwe players received a standing ovation when they entered the pitch. By the time Weche joined AFC Leopards the team was star studded and had stellar names such as Mahmoud Abbas “Kenya one ”, JJ Masiga, Josephat Murila “controller”, Wilberforce Mulamba “Maradona”, John Arieno “papa”(RIP), Abdul Baraza, Haggai Mirikau “shama shama,”(RIP) and Tony Lidonde. This team had collective strength and was something special.
They set fans alight. They had won the CECAFA championship in 1980, 1981 and 1982.
Young Weche must have been himself a football diamond to fit in such an exceptionally talented team. He was recruited as a striker. He was later joined at Ingwe by Aggrey Lukoye, Patrick Shilasi “Omar Bongo,” John Lukoye “Shoto”, Michael Amwayi , Wycliffe Anyangu and Hassan Juma. These are the days when a coach would toss a coin to make a choice when more than one player played in the same position. There will never be such a strong ingwe squad like that one. They are the players we wish we were.
When Weche joined AFC leopards he was a substitute of JJ Masiga and Tony Lidonde. He started playing position 2 when Pius Masinza was injured. Playing fullback 2 took Weche to the national team after which he would become a football icon. When Josephat Murila was injured Weche played position 5 in both AFC Leopards and Harambee Stars. When Abdul Baraza was injured Weche played in Midfield.
“I was able to play in more than one position effectively because I possessed intelligence and awareness on the pitch, flexibility of positions and learning from the best.” Explains Weche.
Role models at Ingwe
“I owe my football prowess as a defender to the supremely talented goalkeeper Mahmoud Abbas. He helped me become a cornerstone in defense in not only AFC Leopards but also Harambee Stars. Abbas controlled the defense and created awareness. He had a unique communication skill on the pitch that was second to none. He had been in the national team and his experience nurtured me a lot”. Weche recalls the super role Abbas played in molding him into a complete player.
“Josephat Murila “controller” was the perfect example of a role model to me. I learnt a lot of things from this extra ordinary defender such as defending with intelligence, calculated interceptions, great timing when tackling so minimum fouls. I learnt the most from Murila. He never shouted at players. He called you and advised you. He was a great teacher.” This is Weche’s testimony of Josephat Murila.
Employment through football
During the glory days of football in Kenya signing for giants AFC Leopards or mighty Gor Mahia was a ticket to employment. Weche was employed at Kenya Railways because of football alongside Peter Dawo, Tobias Ocholla “jua kali”, Wycliffe Anyangu, Thomas Omboko, Patrick Shim, John Busolo, Tirus Omondi “Tairero”, Joseph Owino “helmet” (RIP), Anthony Ndolo “Suzuki”(RIP) and Mike Otieno.
His coaches and father figures
In his glittering career Weche was under the tutelage of many great coaches such as Gerry Saurer, Chris Makokha (RIP), Robert Kiberu (RIP), Graham Williams, Marshall Mulwa, Reinhardt Fabisch (RIP) and Charles Kumi Gyamfi (RIP).
To him Charles Kumi Gyamfi (RIP) was the best of them all. Gyamfi was the first African player to play in Germany when he joined Fortuna Dussel dorf in 1960 and became the first coach to lead the Ghana national team to an African Cup of Nation’s victory.
He coached the adored leopards team from 1988-1991.
“Gyamfi conducted coaching courses to players after the end of the season. This helped us to understand different football systems easily. I used these skills to coach in the estate I lived in. Gyamfi was a father figure.” Explains Weche.
AFC versus Gor Mahia Derby
“This was the easiest match for me. If you believed you were good the crowd judged you. Gor fans respected me. I liked the crowd. I never thought about them when playing. Gor Mahia fans motivated me to be in the national team”. Weche.
“Nahashion Oluoch “lule” was a great dribbler and was as fast as Christiano Ronaldo. Ben Oloo “breakdance” had great footwork’s and caused ripples in opposing defenses. While marking him I put my eyes on the ball and did not concentrate on his body which usually deceived his markers. That’s how I managed to tame him. Another local player that was tough to mark was Alfayo Odongo (RIP). Alfayo had a magical left foot and was a great dribbler.
“I tackled hard, players who wanted to show the crowd that they were good. I tackled them hard to show the crowd that “T9” was present.
Kateregga of Uganda was hard to mark since he had unique styles of playing. In Uganda he was nicknamed “superstar” and he is arguably the finest dribbler in Uganda. He used dummies to create spaces. In the second half in a match against Ugandan opponents our coach Kiberu advised me to play hard on Kateregga which I did perfectly. Kateregga disappeared since he was not brave. Kalusha Bwalya of Mfulira Wanderers of Zambia and King George Weah of Liberia who is now the President of the country caused mayhem and were a nightmare in our defense. Luckily in the match between Kenya and Liberia I and Austin Oduor tamed the football icon.”Weche remembers with nostalgia.
AFC Leopards almost qualified for the continental championship finals when they lost to levintis of Nigeria in the semifinals.
Mickey Weche who would be a driving force in the Ingwe back four for several years replaced Hussein Kheri in Harambee stars as a right fullback. He represented Kenya in the all Africa games in Kenya in 1987.
He represented Kenya in the AFCON in Senegal in 1992 as a player and was also the captain of the team. He also represented the country in the 1994 AFCON in Tunisia as an assistant coach to Jacob “Ghost” Mulei. In Senegal he scored the second goal for Kenya in an AFCON competition after Chegge Ouma. In harambee stars his star never showed a signs of fading.
Like all ambitious soccer players, Weche had a professional stint with Al Itihad in Oman. The team was based in Salala town in Muscat the capital of Oman. In Oman he played with other Kenyans namely Gabriel Olang, Vitalis Owuor, David Akoi (RIP), Henry Motego “Ndovu”, Bernard Otieno (RIP) and Douglas Mutua.
After his playing days Weche remains a football symbol of AFC Leopards and Harambee stars. He is still in football and football is still in him. Being the Captain of AFC Leopards and Harambee Stars in his hey days was not by accident. Weche is by all means a born and made leader. Together with Rishadi Shedu they coached the U-17 National team. He also coached the U-20 National team with Manfred Stephen. He coached at AFC Leopards and transformed Thika United into a winning outfit. He elevated Thika United from the status of relegation to finishing in position 6 in the KPL.
From 2005 to date he has been the head coach of Strathmore FC with which he has won many prestigious awards in University games. Strathmore is currently In the FKF National division one league.
Mickey Weche “T9” is a bonafied soccer super star in Kenya. His indefinable quality has made him consistently named in the all-time best 11 of the invincible AFC Leopards team of the eighties. One of the greatest joys for Kenyan football fans was watching Weche play.
Football is the most globalized sport today and it is played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 nations. This article highlights the benefits of marketing through football and states various examples. The 5 areas of marketing in football organizations are highlighted and the various football products brought into perspective (Pierre Lanfranchi (2004). The article discusses the role of football in Marketing Kenya Methodist University (KeMU) through different channels . The Kenya Methodist University women soccer team, men and junior team have been used as a marketing tool in this article. The women soccer team qualified for the National Women Premier league in 2014 which is the highest level in the country while the men participated in the National Superleague. In the beginning of 2016 the KeMU women team had a total of 9 players in the Senior National team. In this article it is observed that the level of sponsorship in soccer in Western countries is higher than in Africa and more so Kenya. The article provides recommendations on how KeMU soccer teams can emulate marketing strategies used by the more established soccer teams. The key words in this article are Kenya Methodist University, football and marketing.
Football or soccer is a sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 nations, making it the world’s most popular sport. FIFA has 209 members compared to the United Nations 193 states. The Laws of the Game were originally codified in England by The Football Association in 1863. Association football is governed internationally by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA; French: FédérationInternationale de FootballAssociation), which organizes World Cups for both men and women every four years. (Adrian 2005). The Kenya Methodist University (KeMU) has a soccer team for men, women and a junior team. The Men soccer team participated in the National Super League while the women are in the premier league which is the highest tier in the country. The philosophy of the team is to embrace sportsmanship and to make a person first then a player. Football in KeMU is education, passion, joy, happiness and combat.
This is a subdivision of marketing which focuses both on the promotion of sports events and teams as well as the promotion of other products and services through sporting events and sports teams. It is a service in which the element promoted can be a physical product or a brand name. The goal is to provide the client with strategies to promote the sport or to promote something other than sport through sports. These strategies follow the traditional four “P”‘s of general marketing Product, Price, Promotion and Place, another four “P”s are added to sport marketing, relating to the fact sports are considered to be a service. The additional 4 P’s are: Planning, Packaging, Positioning and Perception. The addition of the four extra elements is called the “sport marketing mix. (Mullin, Hardy, Sutton 2014)
To promote the products or services, the companies and associations use different channels such as sponsorships of teams or athletes, television or radio advertisement during the different broadcast sports events and celebrations, and/or advertisement on sporting venues. “Street marketing of sport” which considers sport marketing through billboards on the street and also through urban elements (street lighters and sidewalks, etc.) to help promote and gain publicity during major worldwide sporting events such as the Football World Cup, the Olympic Games, the Super Bowl or the Winter Olympic Games. (Beech and Chadwick 2006)
Marketing through football
When managers of sports organizations are asked what “marketing” is, they give responses such as publicity, sponsorship, spending without the guarantee of profitability, creating a good image, the key to success etc. There are five areas of marketing in football organizations as explained by (Pierre Lanfranchi 2004). These areas are corporate marketing, Service marketing, social-cause marketing, Fund-raising marketing and Internal marketing.
Corporate marketing is the means by which a corporation or organization attracts potential customers. Some of the new marketing tools the internet has produced are: E-Newsletters, Search engine optimization, live chat, discussion forums, pop-up adds and blogs, internet publicity campaigns and virtual marketing. (Jay 2006).
Digital Business Daily of Tuesday June 21, 2016 explains that as soccer continues to grow, local clubs are embracing Information Communication Technology (ICT) to market themselves, their products and inform followers. The clubs believe that by embracing ICT they will open up new fundraising avenues and attract sponsors. According to the report Gor Mahia FC, AFC Leopards, Sofapaka and Ulinzi Stars have the most active websites. Clubs can sell their merchandise online and also do ticketing. Gor Mahia fan club has an official application that introduces a host of features which make accessing the teams information through smartphone and web enabled device including smart TV, smart watches, tablets etc.
Services’ marketing is a sub-field of marketing, which can be split into the two main areas of goods marketing (which includes the Marketing of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and durables) and services marketing. Services marketing typically refer to both Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B) services. In 2015 Gor Mahia football club and Elliot Bread signed a deal that kicked off on Tuesday 1 September, 2015. In the agreement Elliot bread agreed to offer Ksh 1 per bread to Gor Mahia. Moses Ogeto the sales manager at Elliots Bread confirmed the five year deal. The Manager said that Elliot Bread had the capacity to produce enmase and at the end of the sales they will calculate what is owed to Gor Mahia and have it remitted to them at the close of each month. The distributors for the bread, some Gor Mahia officials and Elliots staff were in a collaborative meeting by the time of going to the press. (Korir 2015).
Posta Rangers is a club in Kenya that participates in the Kenya Premier League (KPL) and is sponsored by Postal Corporation of Kenya. The Kenya Premier League is televised and wached by many fans hence a good avenue for the Corporation to market its services such as Express Mail Service (EMS), Posta Pesa and Posta parcel. (Wandera 2015).
According to (Joe, 2002) social-cause marketing refers to a type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a for-profit business and a ting effort for social and other charitable causes, including in-house marketing efforts by non-profit organizations. Joe (2002) further states that a growing number of individuals, companies and organizations, giving is a powerful tool to be used in a calculated program of public relations and long term investing.
Marketing and fundraising are two halves of a whole. But when they don’t operate that way, the outcome of each team’s efforts is far less than it could be, diminishing an organization’s ability to engage its base (and so, to make its desired impact). If bridging the marketing-fundraising gap is the goal, the pathway to getting there has to be supported by your leadership (Schwatz 2002). When Gor Mahia football club partnered with TUZO which is a product of Kenya’s largest milk processor Brookside Dairies they agreed that the club would get 10% of the sale of its branded replica kit designed and manufactured by Italian sportswear company LEGEA (Maingi 2010).
Every business has at least two types of customers: internal and external. While companies usually focus on the external customers – the people who purchase their products and services – internal customers are also important. According to Kathleen (2014), Internal marketing of your business systems is what you know about your company’s infrastructure that your customer may not know. She further states that external marketing is what the world sees or perceives. It includes advertising, website, blog, social media marketing and direct marketing.
Internal customers are the employees that work for the company. Regardless of their job function, they rely on other employees, teams, and the company for support and information. As a result, marketing to these internal customers is a vital aspect to the effectiveness of a company. If internal marketing is well done employee satisfaction leads to customer satisfaction hence it is important to satisfy employees’ needs before the company can satisfy the needs of its customers. (Jeremy 2011).
Benefits of Marketing through football
Sponsorship of events
In 2012, the Kenya Premier League (KPL) administrators agreed a deal with giant alcohol manufacturer East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL) over the sponsorship of the local top flight football league. The three year deal was close to Ksh 170 million. The agreement saw EABL under its strongest brand Tusker become the official sponsor of the league thereby renaming the competition to the “Tusker Premier League”.Most of the proceeds from the EABL went directly to to the 16 clubs in the competition while a portion was used by the administration for the facilitation and logistical operations. Under the deal, KPL received Ksh 55 million per year for 3 years with each of the 16 clubs benefitting from more funds. (kwalimwa 2012).
KeMU organized and sponsored a soccer tournament and invited teams from Universities, Colleges, High schools and clubs. A total of 16 teams turned out for the tournament. Teams that participated were from Meru, Machakos, Nairobi, Nanyuki, Nyeri and Isiolo. KeMU is the leading soccer institution from Central and Eastern Province region hence the University found it to be a noble idea to bring together talented youths to showcase their soccer talents and embrace sportsmanship. The tournament was a success and it gave KeMU a good publicity in terms of organization and Community Social Responsibility (CSR). The tournament was used to encourage sporting talent to the youth thus reducing anti-social behavior. There was positive co existence between players of different levels of learning, community players and the Military from Laikipia Air Base. KeMU was the eventual winner of the tournament and this strengthened the fact that academics and co-curricular activities go hand in hand. This tournament encouraged high school students and even members of the community to join the institution. The tournament was attended by approximately 500 people.
Sponsorship of teams
In 2016, AFC Leopards which plays in the Kenya Premier League (KPL) landed a 3 year sponsorship from Betway. The new three year partnership is estimated to be worth 30 million per year. The deal made Betway the official sponsor of the AFC Leopards shirt. The sponsor is not new in football sponsorship since they support West Ham in the English Premier League (EPL). (Otieno 2016). Otieno (2016) explains that Gor Mahia football club which is the most famous and successful team in Kenya and East Africa got their sponsorship deal with SportPesa in 2016 few hours after their arch rivals AFC Leopards got their three year shirt sponsor with Betway. SportPesa became the official shirt sponsors for the 2015 KPL champions Gor Mahia. The value of the Gor Mahia/SportPesa deal is estimated to be worth 50 million a year. The deal is a 5 year contract.
KeMU has been the sole sponsor of both the men and the women team which participate in the leagues. The men have been participating in the National Superleague while the women qualified for the Women Premier League after finishing first with an unbeaten record in the National division one Women league in 2014. KeMU has been sponsoring the team by providing equipments such as branded uniforms, goal nets, balls, shin guards, training equipments such as cone markers, training bibs, medical facilities, and employment of the soccer coach. The University pays the registration fees for players and subscription fee for the team and foots the transport costs during league matches. The University facilitates allowances for officials and players during the league . The University also facilitates funds to pay match officials and hiring security personnel during home matches. The University maintains playing pitches. KeMU supports the team to participate in build up matches and tournaments organized by Kenya University Sports Association (KUSA), East Africa University Sports Federation (EAUSF), Federation of Africa University Sports Union (FASU) and International University Sports Federation (FISU).
KeMU can excel more in soccer and other sports if the University gets an opportunity to partner with potential sponsors such as Banks, Insurance companies, Safaricom, Airtel, Sportpesa, Betway, booksellers like Educate Yourself, Regent Booksellers, UNICEF, County Government, Mafuko bread and many more. This will ensure that the team has more equipment and facilities and more experienced and talented players will be signed into the team since the leagues are very competitive.
The institutions that sponsor KeMU can have their logo placed on the sponsor page of the KeMU website including a link to their website. The logo of the sponsor will appear in the monthly newsletter and the Kenya Methodist University Student Organisation (KeMUSO) magazine. The sponsor will have an opportunity to put their banners and signage at the pitch during home matches and pitch a tent to market their products and services at the University on organized dates. A perpetual award will be awarded to be named after the name of the sponsor. The sponsor will brand the playing jersey and short and also the training shirt.
Coverage in Newspapers
Media coverage of sport is wide spread. Media encourages attendance of soccer matches as people want to see the stars. It creates better informed supporters and it is easier to attract sponsorship. It develops personalities and role models and encourages participation. Football dominates most of the sports pages in newspapers. Newspapers cover football stories locally, nationally and internationally. Most soccer fans in Kenya and worldwide are obsessed by football events and day to day gossip and discussion has infused into the daily activities. Most sports editors have come from a football writing background and brought with it the love for the game, as well as a desire to focus on it.
According to Mc Chesney (1989) Newspapers usually sell more copies when the local sportsmen are successful. Coverage of area winning teams could lead to increase in advertising due to greater readership, which could lead to conflicting interest for newspapers. “Media covers sports with a clear conflict of interest. Their very enterprise is deeply invested in the continued success of comodified sport.” Mc Chesney 1989) continues to explain that teams and athletes in turn must attribute much of “staggering popularity to media coverage that promote their games and their exploits to readers. Without media coverage comodified sports struggle to exist. Therefore sports and media form “symbiotic economic relationship.”
KeMU ladies soccer team player Cherise Avilia Salano helped Kenya in April 2016 to create history by winning a slot for Kenyas National ladies soccer team Harambee Starlets by scoring a crucial goal against Algeria in the qualifiers of the Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) to be held in cameroon in November 2016. The story was well covered in The Daily Nation of Wednesday April 13, 2016 and the Standard. Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President Nick Mwenda, Cabinet Secretary for Sports Hassan Wario and the Head Coach David Ouma also featured in the success story. Players from KeMU who feautured for the Starlets in that match namely Samantha Akinyi, Esse Mbeyu Akida, Neddy Atieno Okoth, Cherise Avilia and Ernez Mudeizi Mango were featured in a profile in the Fever Pitch of the Thursday, April14, 2016 Standard . KeMU Soccer Queens were featured in the Thursday, July 17, 2014 in The Standard while participating in the Africa University Games in Kenya in 2014. The KeMU soccer team men was featured in the Daily Nation on Monday 4, 2016 after playing against KenGen in the National Division One League and an interview to the coach published.
Coverage on Television
In 2015 the KeMU Queens was covered in a sports feature in the National Television News ( NTV) sports news . Seth Olale was the presenter and the team got plenty of airtime in the coverage. The achievements of the team featured in the NTV presentation included first runners up position in the All Africa University Games held in Kenya in 2014, Winners of the East Africa University Games in Uganda in 2014 and the promotion of the team to the Women Premier League after winning the National Division one League in 2014. The presenter emphasized the fact that KeMU natures talents and also an opportunity for students to study.Cherise Avilia of KeMU was appointed to be the Captain of the Harambee Starlets while her fellow student and teammate Samanther Akinyi a goalkeeper as her Vice Captain in the friendly match against
Egypt at Machakos Stadium on Saturday February 2015. During the NTV presentation KeMU superstars and administrators were interviewed. The players were clad in branded KeMU Uniform which gave visibility of the University. The team was also featured in the Qatar Television ( QTV ) in 2015.
The national ladies soccer team the Harambee Starlets graced the Churchil show at the Carnivore’s Simba Saloon following their qualification for the African Women Cup of Nation in Cameroun. The team included 5 players from KeMU. The viewers were shown a repeat of the goal from Cherise Avilia Salano.Avilia was later interviewed in the show and mentioned the name of her University KeMU. During the show the Starlets players requested to visit the President at state house. President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto hosted a few selected players at State House on Friday, April 22nd 2016 following the historic performance by the Harambee Starlets and the story featured in the Standard and Daily Nation the following day. Essey Akida Mbeyu, Cherise Avilia Salano and Samanther Akinyi from KeMU were among the players who visited the President at State House.
TV advertising during broadcast of sports events
During the Tusker “Jenga Game” (build the game) 2.75 million shillings was won by clubs. The 3 month promotion which was run from October to December 2015 gave bear lovers a chance to raise money for their favourite clubs. The campaign had Harambee stars legends Joe Kadenge, George Sunguti, Joseph Murila, Tobias Ocholla and legendary Captain of Harambee Stars Musa Otieno as the headlines for the campaign which was appealing for grassroot support from across Kenya. 2 shillings from every bottle of Tusker went to the fan’s club after sending the team code at 21450. Tusker football club came first with a contribution of 704,950 shillings while Gor Mahia football club came second with 585,912 shillings. (MICHEZOAFRIKA, 30 Jan 2016).
Kenya’s top sports exploit Mac Donald Mariga who played for Italian Serie A Giants Inter Millan football club advertised the UAP Insurance Company in 2011. In the advert Mariga kicks a ball and says the words “football is my life; that’s why I insure with UAP” Richard (2011).
This publicity of KeMU by the media led to more enquiries from talented soccer players from high schools and clubs about studying in KeMU and playing soccer to the University. Many high schools in Meru county invited the KeMU soccer teams for friendly matches used as build up matches before their Secondary schools competitions as the result of the popularity of the team and soccer prowess. Games teachers and coaches from colleges, high schools and clubs seek mentorship and coaching materials from the more experienced KeMU coaches. As a result of the exceptional talent and publicity of the soccer teams the County Government partners with the University in nurturing talents in the County. The County Government includes KeMU players in their teams during Inter County competitions.
KeMU has provided coaches to train teams for the County in Inter County competitions. KeMU was also called upon several times to play build up matches against the Men and women Soccer teams in the County Soccer Academy that was formed to nurture talent at the grassroot level.
The National Women Coach of the Harambee Starlets David Ouma invited KeMU Soccer Queens for a build up match on 5th July 2015 at Kasarani Stadium. The Harambee Starlets used the friendly match to prepare for the third round of the Rio 2016 Olympic qualifiers against South Africa’s Banyana Banyana at Dobsonvill Stadium in South Africa.
Former Premier League soccer team Ulinzi stars played a friendly match with KeMU FC as part of their preparation for the 2014 Premier league and later Tusker Youth team played a friendly match against KeMU FC in 2015. KenPoly FC from Nairobi requested to play the KeMU FC soccer team in Meru in march 2016 after the men team performed well in the Superleague and reached the finals of the Kenya University Sports Association (KUSA) games in 2015. The result of the match and several action photos taken during the match were posted in the KenPoly website.
Newspaper reporters from the Daily Nation, Taifa Leo, Meru County Focus, Local TV and radio stations from Meru county like MUGA FM and Mwariama FM have been keen to feature the KeMU soccer teams whenever they participate in events. Soccer blogs such as Futaa.com and Soka.com have great interest in featuring KeMU soccer teams on their news after their sterling performances and often interview the coach.
Marketing of soccer through Social Media websites
Parkinson (2015) elaborates that with technology growing at such an exponential rate, marketing someone’s product or team, etc. through certain media sources can result in positive revenue and create more attention to not only fans but the broader audience. The most commonly used websites to promote a company’s products through social media are Facebook and Twitter. Parkinson (2016) further emphasizes the fact that Facebook receives more than 1.6 billion visits a week and Twitter receives more than 400 million visits a month so mar-keting products and teams through these websites could be deemed a very handy way to create recognition.
Digital media has changed the modern sports experience for fans around the world and millions of peo-ple actively share photos, videos and other forms of content on Social media, the new platform for sports fan engagement.
The KeMU soccer team has a page on face book whereby fans and players are invited into the group. In-formation on upcoming matches and their venues are communicated through the page. Team results are also posted and fans allowed posting their comments. It’s used to give updates on events and any issue that the team desires to communicate. The KeMU soccer team facebook page has about 200 members. An average of 80 people per day respond to posts in the page. alumni are able to connect with the current team members. More members are expected to join the page with time.
Football Online Media
Sports media is a multi-faceted environment .The football industry has been transformed by media investment and emergent communications technologies that range from the latest television and radio broadcast deals to the proliferation of online media. The football industry is supported by all media platforms including print, broadcast and online.
Futaa.com is the number one news source for football in Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. It covers live score , news for upcoming matches and the latest transfers and also results of other leagues in the country and even tournaments. The KeMU soccer teams have featured prominently more than 20 times in this website which has an enormous number of people who access it.
A brand is a living asset, brought to life across all touch points, which if properly managed, creates identification, differentiation and value. (Jeremy 2011). One of the most important assets of a sports organization is its brand (Bauer, Sauer,Schmitt 2005). Many brands particularly sports brands have transcended geography by focusing on the global appeal of the sport (Muniz & O’Guinn, 2001).
Hombrebueno (2015) explains that the Kenya Premier League (KPL) got a sponsorship deal from SportPesa in 2015. The popular East African betting firm replaced East African Brewers (EABL) in August 2015 in a deal with KPL that will run for four and a half years. The deal with East African Brewers (EABL) ran for years from June 2012. During that time the Kenya Premier League was officially known as the “Tusker Premier League) after the popular brand “Tusker” produced and marketed by EABL.
Hombrebueno (2015) further clarifies that the SportPesa deal was reportedly worth Ksh 80 million per year. The deal put SportPesa at the heart of Kenyan football. Football is the most popular sport in Kenya, way ahead of track events. Judging by the current online betting craze on SportPesa jackpot, this is an excellent deal for the betting company. The KPL sponsorship deal is reported to be on a 10% annual increase. This means that at the end of four years (2019) SportPesa will have paid over 360 million shil-lings. SportPesa Chief executive Officer (CEO) Ronald Karauri said that the betting company’s long term plans was to improve the quality of the league and ensure that Kenya featured prominently in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The KeMU soccer teams wear uniforms labeled KeMU on the jerseys and shorts during friendly matches, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) league matches, East Africa University Games (EAUG) and Federation of African University Sports (FASU). The KeMU jerseys also have the University logo on them. During Inter University competitions KeMU players and officials wear branded t-shirts and caps having the name of the Institution. This gives positive publicity to the University since the men and wom-en soccer teams are a force to reckon with in Kenya and Africa. Whenever the team appears in the media or playing fields the name of the University is visible. This can be seen on photos posted in the University website and in newspapers in which the team has been featured e.g in standard digital on Saturday, July 18th 2015 and Sunday, July 19th 2015 when KeMU Queens played in a friendly match against the Harambee Starlets and lost 2-0. The KeMU soccer queens were also in the Thursday, July Standard 2014 while participating in the Africa University Games in Kenya.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility involves companies incurring a responsibility to society beyond financial returns. In the sport context, corporate social responsibility is increasingly becoming important in shaping business, economic, political, environmental and social policies in the global marketplace. The role of CSR is gaining more and more importance to the public, so it is understandable that organizations see an opportunity to raise not only the revenues but also their reputation. A good reputation of a company, its brands and products will ultimately end up in having advantages to potential customers. (Kolja 2010).
The United Nations has promoted sport worldwide as a means to promote education, health, development and peace. Sport has a number of unique factors including mass media distribution and communication power, youth appeal, positive health impacts, social interaction and sustainability awareness. Sport is an important vehicle for corporate social responsibility as it can influence the quality of life of employees, customers, shareholders and residents of local and global communities
KeMU has offered a lot of CSR though football. KeMU has in the past held a referees and coaching clinic that was facilitated by former Harambee Stars veteran soccer coach James Aggrey Sianga and renowned experts from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and FIFA like retired referee Maxim Itur. The KeMU soccer team plays many friendly soccer matches with community teams and high schools. Since KeMU is the best team in the region it provides a lot of exposure to these community and high school teams and acts as the benchmark. KeMU extends its CSR by having a junior team where the players are given fundamental basic skills and learn the philosophies of the senior team at an early age.
Soccer activity can be innovative, opportunity driven and vision oriented. Innovative marketing techniques provide a way to support soccer and at the same time enhancing an institutions image. KeMU can make the men and ladies soccer teams to become clubs which will attract membership and a fan base. The University can partner with a number of sponsors for mutual benefit. The leagues are expensive and highly competitive. Sponsorship from companies and Non governmental Organizations (NGO’s) will lead to acquisition of more training equipment, maintenance and creation of high quality sporting infrastructure, great exposure that will include playing high profile friendly matches in Kenya and beyond. Sponsorship will enable the team to acquire high profile players that will give the team a good platform to play in highly competitive tournaments like the GOTV Shield and also achieve its ambition of playing in the Kenya Premier League for the Men and Kenya Premier League for the ladies team.
Fundraising is one of the methods that can be used to enrich a KeMU scholarship kitty to support players in pursuing their academic endeavors while participating in elite sports competition and University games. The University can partner with organisations such as Brookside Dairies that offer scholarships to talented and bright students. The sponsors can pay a given percentage of the student/players fee while the student pays a certain percentage to encourage parent participation in their children’s studies. A benchmark grade can be created for the beneficiaries to encourage students to work hard and be well rounded. The Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) can be a vetting point. International students can also be considered for such scholarships.
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Just as everyone has a birthday, KeMU Queens football team was established in the year 2006. The Dean of Students by then was Mr. Japheth Githaiga. The Games Tutor was Jeff Kubai an alumni of Kenyatta University. Mr. Jeff Kubai who has a first degree in Sports and a Master’s degree in Psychology created the sports structures in KeMU and his priceless support contributed to the growth of football in KeMU during the formative years. Rehal Satwinder started the KeMU football teams before I took over as the Head Coach in September 2006. Rehal Satwinder would leave later for greener pastures in Philippines. The football enthusiast is now a Professor associated with the College of Public Health of University of Philippines Manila, and the Department of Sociology of University of Philippines. He still plays his role as a goalkeeper in Manila although now not in the top tier league.
There is arguably no University in Kenya and East Africa that has made greater impact in women football than KeMU. Kenyatta University (KU) and Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) are two Universities that have competed favorably against KeMU Queens and also deserve a standing ovation for exemplary performance in Kenya University Sports Association (KUSA) games and East Africa University Games (EAUG). A match involving KeMU Queens against KU, MMUST or Makerere University has always proved to be a mouthwatering encounter. While KU, MMUST and Makerere University have won several University titles on their name, the KeMU Queens have won both titles and the hearts of the fans. KeMU Queens have always displayed aesthetic football and won beautifully. They never won ugly. After all matches the name KeMU has always remained on the lips of ecstatic fans that yearned for more football extravaganza.
All Africa University Games on home soil
Kenya hosted the All Africa University Games in July in 2014 at the University of Nairobi. KeMU finished second overall after losing to post match penalties to Makere University of Uganda in the finals. Earlier on in the preliminaries KeMU had beaten Makere University 3-0 and they were too sure they would repeat the same in the finals. In the finals pragmatism beat fantasy as Makere played like a wounded lion hence their triumph. That game was like a movie. Throughout the match KeMU was on the driver’s seat and even lost a penalty in the onset of play. The Queens always believed they would score which was never the case.
East Africa University Games (EAUG)
In 2010 KeMU Queens participated in their first ever EAUG which was hosted by Kenyatta University. The team finished 2nd overall after KU who bagged the gold medal. A splendid display by KeMU was still inevitable despite finishing second and carrying home a silver medal
KeMU Queens participated in the EAUG in 2012 in Dar res salaam University in Tanzania. Here they drew in their first two matches against University of Eldoret and Kenyatta University before losing to Makere University and Kampala University who were the overall winners.
2014 was a magnificent year for KeMU Queens as they played scintillating football in the EAUG in Uganda. The games were hosted by Uganda Christian University (UCU) in Mukono. This is arguably the best University football team to grace the fields of Uganda in a football tournament for women. The Ugandan fans may for long times never see again the quality of football that the KeMU Queens displayed. This team had chemistry and creativity. The back four of Cate Syprine, Maurine Mukachi, Ernez Mango and the ever green captain Maureen Ater was water tight. Samanther Akinyi had safe hands between the posts. The midfield trinity of Esther Mazira, Cheris Avilia and Lilian Adera had understanding. None of these three played the same way but they needed each other. While Avilia had a panoramic vision, Adera was excellent defensively whereas Mazira was a great dribbler and scored beautiful goals. Up front the strikers were at their destructive best and wanted to break records. Esse Akida had supernatural speed and finesse and inevitably finished as the tournament’s top scorer with a total of 9 goals. Neddy Atieno took on defenders with lightning speed and scoring goals was her main strength. Sharon Bushenei had happy feet and shooting power while Mercy Odinga the divine left foot mesmerized the supporters upfront with her footwork mastery. She made things look easy as she beat her opponents at will. It was not an easy task for the coach to select the starting three upfront.
In the 8-0 thrashing of Eldoret University one of the Ugandan Police officers was so ecstatic that after the match he gave Esse Akida the top scorer of that match a token of unknown cash. The Ugandan fans were so passionate and match attendance was high. Every time fans from the community asked when the KeMU Queens would play. The final match between KeMU and the hosts Ugandan Christian University was well attended by a sizeable crowd. KeMU Queens did not disappoint as they beat UCU 3-0 in front of their fans but nevertheless left them with joy and a story to tell future generations. When the curtains of the 2014 EAUG came down the KeMU Queens were the undisputed Champions and they had done this in style and swagger. The best organized East African University Games had been won by perhaps the best team ever.
Kenya University Games (KUSA)
KeMU Queens won their first KUSA National Championship in 2011 at Ruaraka grounds in Nairobi. They did this by beating eternal rivals KU 3-0 in an entertaining final.
During that final match KeMU Queens Captain Tabitha Chegge is remembered for scoring probably the goal of the tournament. After receiving a perfect inch cross from Glory Kinya, she tapped the ball into the corner of the net with a Midas touch using her in foot. The KU goalkeeper would only watch the ball go into the net while the fans would only enjoy the goal. Up to this day I don’t understand if that goal was out of talent or divine power. A lot of genius happened within seconds. The leadership of Tabitha Chegge and Maurine Achieng as captain and vice was remarkable. Maureen was the most experienced player in that team since she went through the MYSA project and participated in the Norway cup in her youthful days. This KeMU team had very dedicated and disciplined players such as Ziporah Njoroge, Emily Gacheri and Hilda Kanyiri (twins), Winnie Wangu, Rhodah Kithinji, Priscilla Wangari, Emalisa, Monicah Karambu, Glory Kinya and Edna Naitore among others. None of the players was more equal than the rest and this created a unified approach to all matches and tournaments. During the KUSA tournament in Ruaraka an anonymous fan was heard saying “I wish KUSA would allow the KeMU women team to play in the Men’s tournament.” The Queens dazzled the fans and for a while were the talk of the town.
In 2011 KeMU Queens also won the annual JKUAT sports tournament winners trophy. The team beat all their opponents. They beat the hosts JKUAT in the finals. In JKUAT they were dubbed “the football queens” of Kenya by the fans. They provided joy to the crowds with fluid passing and classic goals. Another anonymous male fan man was heard saying “if you want to watch pure football go watch the KeMU Queens.” After Tabitha Chegge left the captain’s role Ziporah Njoroge was the new captain assisted by Rhodah Kithinji. Next to wear the arm band was Maureen Achieng assisted by Emalisa. Mid 2014 Maureen Ater was appointed as the captain assisted by Ernez Mango.
In 2015 in JOOUST Bondo, the KeMU Queens won the KUSA football Championship. This was the best assembled KeMU women team and also probably the best University team to ever play in any KUSA tournament. But why were they the best ever? Apart from winning all their FKF Division one league matches and qualifying for the women premier league, this team had 7 players who had donned the national team colors. In this team was the top contender of the goalkeeper’s position of Kenya Samanther Akinyi “Pablo,” Cheris Avilia the jewel in the midfield of Harambee Starlets who would score the historic goal that propelled Kenya to their first ever Africa Cup of Nations Championship in Limbe Cameroun. In this team there was the top striker of the COTIF Cup in Spain and silver boot winner of the CECAFA Championship in Tanzania Esse Akida. Also in this team was the footwork wizard with superb ball control Mercy Odinga. It was a team with an array of talent.
These football queens swept aside all their opponents in this tournament and beat Eldoret University 4-0 in the final match. Their counterparts the KeMU men team was also in the finals that year and lost to KU on post-match penalties. Present in that final was the Head of Delegation of KeMU Mr. James Kubai Taitumu also the Dean of Students then, Assistant Dean of Students Suzan Laimaru and Jeff Kubai the Games Tutor. These officers applauded the queens for an exemplary performance. Mr. James Kubai had supported the football teams greatly in 2014 and 2015. We all thanked the good Lord for having two KeMU teams in the KUSA finals.
KeMU Queens versus Kenya
In 2016 KeMU Queens played a build up match against Harambee Starlets at Moi International Sports Complex Kasarani. Neddy Atieno and Esse Akida of KeMU scored the all-important goals for the Starlets against their University. It was a great game with KeMU getting a lot of exposure. Playing against a country’s team was never going to be a walk in the park. For KeMU football has been and will always be passion, joy, happiness, education and combat.
KeMU Queens Achievements
International Women’s Day
JKUAT Annual sports Day
Safaricom Sakata Ball Championship
Marie stopes Football Tournament
East Africa University Games
Dar res Salam University
Kenyatta University Cultural Week
Africa University Games
East Africa University Games
Egerton University Anuual Sports Day
Kenyatta University Cultural Week
FKF Division One League
FKF Women Premier League Tournament
International Women’s Day
Africa Nazarine University
DSTV Supercup (Played before Gor Versus Bandari DSTV Supercup finals
When you talk about KeMU you talk about football and when you talk about football you talk about KeMU. KeMU is synonymous with football success. KeMU has dominated football in the Mount Kenya region for close to a decade. No football team has contributed to the growth of the game in the region more than KeMU has done. KeMU FC is popularly known for playing beautiful football full of elegance. KeMU is a perfect example of a football team and known for sportsmanship on and off the pitch. “If you are a football player in Meru and you have never gone through the KeMU football system then you missed a step” says Melvin Muthomi “Kupe” a beneficiary. In 2012 the scholars reached the finals of the Egerton and Kisii University Sports day football tournaments. In 2013 they reached the semifinals of the JKUAT Open tournament which is usually very tough as it attracts many premier league and Superleague players by virtue of being held during the FIFA International break. In 2009 KeMU reached the Semifinals of the KUSA National Football Championships held at University of Nairobi. In 2011 KeMU also reached the Semifinals of the KUSA National Football Championship at Utali grounds.
In 2015 the team was bristling with talent in the KUSA National Championships in JOOUST Bondo and the team refused to be beaten until the finals when they lost to Kenyatta University on post-match penalties. That team was football. KeMU FC also participated in the East Africa University Games in Uganda in 2009and 2014 and in 2010 at Kenyatta University in Kenya. In the FKF league KeMU was equally good and gave opponents a run for their money. KeMU qualified for the 2014 FKF division one league after playing in the mini league at Machakos Stadium the same year. With a blend of highly talented players and superb team work in Machakos, no one would stop KeMU FC from success. Gabriel Njuguna “Nanaa” a ball control supremo is remembered for the volley he scored in the semifinal against Tala Nationale. A goal that shocked the opponents and even the evil hearted would appreciate. The story of KeMU FC is like a novel and that is for another day. This story is about the greatest come backs of KeMU FC. These memories are so nostalgic that a football museum should be created to have archived there for eternity.
KeMU vs. Sparki FC
It is early 2015 and it is the first FKF Super league match for KeMU FC. Guess who the opponent might be and it is none other than Sparki Youth. The match is at Mombasa Municipal stadium and Sparki is the home team. Getting a point in the Coast proved a nightmare in the 2014 FKF Division one league and here comes KeMU FC for their first match.
The sun is scorching and it is highly humid. A quarter an hour into the game KeMU is down by three quick goals. No one on the KeMU technical bench can really explain what happened including the players in the game. Former Harambee Stars Coach Mohamed Kheri who is by then in charge of Sparki FC is heard saying “this team is playing a very difficult system”. The system was 4-2-3-1. In the second half KeMU FC returns to the pitch rejuvenated like never before. Goals from mercurial striker Morven Otinya “Mwalimu” and two from sharp shooter Meshack Bwire are enough to earn KeMU FC three vital points. It’s unbelievable not only to Sparki FC but also to KeMU FC. In the dying minutes Sparki FC would have conceded a fourth goal but survived miraculously.
The next day KeMU FC beat TUM FC 3-1 at the same venue. With a midfield trinity of Sean Opuora, Munene Noor and Nigerian footwork wizard Kazeem Adenkule the goals had to come up front. This midfield would fit in any team. Kazeem and Sean were perfect dribblers who mesmerized the fans while Munene was perfect in reading the game and his passes were inch perfect. Melvin Muthoni “Kupe” a pass master, Albert Nsengu from Rwanda and Abdi complimented the midfield. The striking was lethal with the combination of Gabriel Kilonzo “Nanaa,” Morven Otinya “Mwalimu,” Meshack Bwire, Kevin shebi “Emeka,” Cyrus Muaka and Maina and Stephen Mwiti “mbio Mbaya”.
KeMU FC VS Strathmore University
The climax of all the comebacks was in the Super league derby between KeMU FC and hosts Strathmore University. This derby was always full of fireworks. Strathmore had former Kenya and AFC Leopards legendary defender Mickey Weche “Makuku” “T9” as their head coach. By half time Strathmore was leading by 3 goals to one. Thanks to the consolation goal for KeMU FC by Stephen Onyango. The pitch was soaked with rain water and the surface was not a bed of roses. In the second half of the game KeMU FC came back like a wounded lion. A hat trick by Kevin Shebi “Emeka” and clinical finishing from the attacking trio of Meshack Bwire, Stephen Onyango and Morven Otinya was enough to sink Strathmore 6-3. That was an emphatic win for a team that had trailed 3-1 in an away match. It’s not the 6 goals that are highly remembered but it’s the classic composure and patience of KeMU FC. The striking force of Morven Otinya, Stephen Onyango and Meshack Bwire was razor sharp that day and could tear apart any defense.
Kevin Shebi was in awesome form that day and the hat trick he scored on that derby is what he had dreamt of when he was a child. That day not even Mike “Iron” Tyson would stop Kevin Shebi “Emeka’’ from scoring a hat trick. In the second leg KeMU beat Strathmore 2-0 courtesy of goals from Steve Mwiti “Mbio Mbaya.” By the end of the first leg in the 2015 FKF National Superleague KeMU FC had the highest number of goals for in the standing even though the team conceded a couple of goals against perhaps because of the attack mindedness. KeMU FC also broke the record of the highest score in in that league by thrashing Taqaye FC from Malindi 7-0. To have the highest goals in a league that had the likes of Police FC, Administrative Police, Wazito FC, Coast Stima and Kangemi all Stars was not lady luck.
KeMU finished in a respectable position 5 in that Super league. The team was complete with four goalkeepers in the name of Captain Julius Odanga, Frankline Mwenda, Emanuel Eipa and Reuben Juma competing for one position to man between the sticks. The defense was rock solid with the likes of Anthony Murithi “Benko,” Michael Odongo “Alaba,” Enock Ojwang, Moses Mweya “kose”, Bruce Mbakara, Eric Oloo “Ero”, Washington Muhande, Antony Muriki “Fanto” and Evans Mwendi “Superman”. Neither the late Reinhardt Fabisch nor Jacob Mulei “Ghost” would refuse to manage that team. It was pure football talent.
KeMU Vs TUK
The KUSA National Football championships were a blessing to KeMU. It was the first time that the KeMU men’s team had reached the finals of the KUSA football Championship and it was the first time that both KeMU football teams graced the finals. The first football final was KeMU queens against University of Eldoret while the second final was KeMU FC against KU. After these two finals I looked up in the sky and thanked the good Lord for giving KeMU such success. The road to the final for KeMU FC was not a walk in the park.
The match between KeMU FC and Technical University of Kenya (TUK) was the last match in of a group of death that also had JOOUST the host and Egerton University. A draw is all that TUK needed to qualify for the quarter finals. For KeMU it was either a must win or pack their belongings for Meru. About 10 minutes to go before the final whistle TUK managed to score a relatively easy goal after a defense lapse by KeMU. This jeopardized the hopes of KeMU qualifying but the never say die scholars continued to mount pressure on their opponents who had resulted to defending. With about five minutes to go KeMU mounted a well-organized attack at the TUK goal which looked like the ultimate equalizer. A goal? YEEES!!! NOOO!! ! After the TUK goal keeper made an acrobatic save a TUK defender cleared the ball from the goal line.
Fans had already started celebrating only to go back to their seats in disbelieve. After the raid Meshack Bwire fired a rasping shot outside the penalty area that struck the post and right into the net. It would have been unfair for anyone to blame the experienced TUK goalkeeper who doubled up as the number one choice for Super league side police FC for not stopping the missile from Meshack. In the dying minutes KeMU started a buildup from full back per excellence Michael Odongo “Alaba”, to mid field, to Meshack Bwire who played a wall pass to Morven Otinya who wasted no chance by shaking the net. This goal was the turning point for KeMU in the tournament. It was the most important goal for KeMU by a decorated striker. After the match all KeMU fans, Dean of Students, Assistant Dean, Games Tutor and other jubilant fans joined together in dancing and celebrating the sweet victory. Never again had a game brought the University together as that goal did. KeMU reached the finals by beating Egerton University 2-0 in the quarter finals and beating Strathmore 5-4 in a dramatic penalty shootout in the battle of titans. KeMU goalkeeper Frankline Mwenda was the hero that day after stopping a penalty from a Strathmore player. The goalkeeper had a super tournament and was the diamond in the KeMU team.
It’s early January 2018 when I find myself at Kidudu Stadium in Vihiga County. Here is where newly promoted Vihiga United are preparing for their maiden participation in the 2018 Kenya Premier League. The team’s training was scheduled to kick off by 10am but the players are self-motivated and are already warming up 15 minutes to time knowing too well that football in the highest tier is not going to be a bed of roses. My aim of attending this preseason training is mainly to fulfill a one year long overdue interview with one of the assistant coaches who is also a former football powerhouse.
The interview is scheduled to take place immediately after training. Francis Xavier is the football icon to be interviewed. Immediately after the end of the training session I am in the company of Edward Manoa the head coach and his two assistant coaches Tom Tera “Tt” and Francis Xavier. Edward Manoa excuses himself and I am left with the two assistants. While walking to the venue of the Interview, Xavier and I are already brainstorming on a few football issues. Every time Xavier mentions his hey days in football, Tom Tera is not left behind. His contribution is mouthwatering and I can’t hesitate to inquire more. He is mentioning the football names I always wanted to hear and watch when I was a kid. These are football names that ruled Kenyan football in the 80’s and early 90’s. The big task for me now is to have two interviews instead of one. This is how this memorable story of Tom Tera emerged.
Tom Tera was born in 1966. His dad John Tera was a truck driver at Kenya Breweries while his mother Dina Omina was a primary school teacher at Baba Dogo Primary School in Nairobi. Their family had a total of 9 children composed of 6 brothers and 3 sisters. He attended Baba Dogo Primary until standard 2 but the family had to relocate to Kisumu after they lost their beloved dad. For standard 3-6 he studied at Kisumu Union Primary before he relocated to Maseno in Standard 7. He joined form one at Kakamega High School in 1982.
Football extravaganza at Kakamega High School
Tom Tera was scouted to Kakamega High school by the late football technocrat Chris Makokha who was by then assisted by Mr. Kwendo (RIP). The Principal of the school was none other than John Kinaro Livingstone a former boxing champion at University of Dar-es-Salaam. You can imagine how he dealt with those who broke school rules. Mr. Kinaro ensured that there was overwhelming support to the Green Commandos the famous name of the school football team. The young Tera landed in Kakamega town the heart of Western Province and the heartbeat of football, a town alive with football. When he arrived in Kakamega High School he met a galaxy of super talents such as Dan Musuku, Ainea Isabwa (late), Michael Amwayi, Peter Zimbo Owade, George Nyangi Odembo ‘Artillery’, Eliud Omukuya, Ogot Gwada, Dennis Munyendo, Henry Oigara (deadly winger who died in India), the list is endless. This was the perfect example of a football team. The team had everything a team needs. Most of these football stars would later play a pivotal role in helping AFC Leopards win the league and CECAFA championships back to back. Others joined other teams and made lasting impacts. Most of these players donned the national team colors. Despite being recruited as a striker the coach opted to switch Tera to the position of a fullback. Reason behind it being that the striking force was oozing with an array of talent and only the invincible made it to the starting team. These strikers at the Green Commandos were superb and knew how to finish.
They were simply deadly and knew where the goal was. The defense had scarcity and hence the reason Tera had to train as a defender. He took everything positively because he was under a football master who converted average players into mighty names. The school waivered half of his fees while the other half was paid by Kisumu Black Stars, the club Tera played for while in school.
Green Commandos Vs Musingu Scorpions; The mother of all battles
Musingu High School is an eternal football rival to Kakamega High School. The derby between these two giants was the stiffest of tests. Both teams displayed sensational football winning the hearts and minds of fans. This match was everything you would expect in a football match. Tom Tera vividly remembers the epic duels against Musingu their archrivals who hailed from the neighborhood. When you talk about the Green Commandos in those yester years you talk about Musingu and when you talk about Musingu in the yester years you talk about the Green Commandos. On the National scene you cannot tell the history of AFC Leopards without mentioning Gormahia f.c and vice versa. “While the Green Commandos had their share of football greats, Musingu also had stellar names like Alfayo Odongo (deceased), Johnston Keffa Tasso, Michael Wambani ‘Computer’ (later joined the Green Commandos), Patrick Mutai, Julius Were, Festus Serenge, Enock Momanyi, Jacob Lijodi, Arthur Onyango “Coimbra” given that name in Italy while playing for the Kenya U-20 team. Most of Musingu players joined Mumias Sugar FC while most of the Green Commandos players joined Motcom, AFC Leopards and Rivatex FC.” It took Tera determination and dedication to ensure that he broke into the first team. Tera remembers the bitter loss to Musingu in the 1984 finals at Shanzu Teachers College. The Green Commandos had led 1-0 throughout the match but with 5 minutes to go, Michael Wambani “Computer” did the unexpected. Like a programmed computer he scored two quick goals within 5 minutes. Football is sometimes like a movie. The lone goal of the Green Commandos had been scored by Stephen Etole who later joined Mumias Sugar. While Tera was at Kakamega High School the undisputed football kings won the Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) football title in 1982&83.The Green commandos had previously won the title in 1979, 80 and 81. Winning any title 5 times in a row is an exemplary performance. No high school in Kenya will ever break this record. After playing for the Green Commandos with love, pride and great honor Tera completed his O-levels in 1985 to face the outside world. The current Green Commandos qualified for the 2018 Super league under their able coach Brendan Mwinamo an alumnus of the school. This is a record created for a High school to qualify for the Superleague.
Football at Rivatex
After high school Tom Tera “Tt” was a refined and polished football product. It is for this obvious reason that several top tier teams came knocking the door to have his signature. Although military side Lanet Scarlet had already signed him, Tera had other options such as Kisumu Posta, Bata Bullets from Limuru and Rivatex from Eldoret. Immediately he completed his last O-level examination, a van belonging to Rivatex was waiting for him at the school administration block. He opted to sign for Rivatex and revoked the idea to sign for Scarlet. “In Scarlet you are first recruited as a soldier before joining the team. Rivatex offered me direct employment before I even got a National ID. The company had to source an ID for me”, States Tera as he justifies his move to the textile industry. Tera had speed and was seconds quicker than his markers. He was at the peak of both his technical and physical power and this made him supremely confident. At Rivatex the coach was Robert Kiberu from Uganda (deceased). The big boys already at Rivatex were Dalton Bwire (Ugandan), Bernard Majale (TZ), Alfred Babu, George Irungu and Gilbert Oguna. By then Rivatex had many foreign based players and the company was very stable financially.
The new kids on the block in Rivatex list of signings in 1985 were Tom Tera, Alfayo Odongo, Patrick Nachok, Patrick Mutai, Harun Wangila ‘Ndunduma’, Sammy Sholei “Ty”, Stanley Ouma, Rogers Amukasa, Reverence Nangalama, Nafas Kevogo, Festus Serenge and Charles Bwire Namudeche. This was by all means a big catch in terms of talent.
Rivatex in 1990: First team outside Nairobi to win the Moi Golden Cup
These football diamonds in Rivatex were definitely destined for success and making history by breaking boundaries was inevitable. Abdul Majid succeeded the late Kiberu to become the coach of the star-studded team from the Rift Valley. In 1986 Rivatex showed their intentions of making history by reaching the Moi Golden Cup semifinals only to be eliminated by Bandari f.c.
1990 was their golden moment when they were the first team outside Nairobi to win the coveted Moi Golden Cup. They did this after beating Bata Bullets from Limuru 2-1 in the grand finale. Their star player Alfayo Odongo (RIP) was voted MVP in the country that year. They didn’t win the Moi Golden Cup by sheer luck. In the quarter finals they eliminated the mighty Gor Mahia while in the semi-finals they sunk another giant, Kenya Breweries. In 1990 Rivatex were at the peak of their powers and no one would stop them even Mike Tyson. “This team was one of the toughest teams to beat during my Gor Mahia days. They had a mixture of speed, talent and determination,” Tom Odhiambo former Gor Mahia player.
Best 11 at Rivatex
1)Charles Bwire Namudeche 2) Festus Serenge 3) Reuben Adaro 4) Rogers Amukasa 5) Patrick Mutai 6) Sammy Sholei “Ty” 7) Harun Wangila “Ndunduma” 8) Alfred Babu 9) Tom Tera 10) Patrick Nachok 11) Alfayo Odongo and Coach Abdul Majid.
After winning the Moi Golden Cup with Rivatex, Tom Tera joined Pan Paper f.c. of Webuye following a disagreement with the management of the former. He moved to Pan Paper alongside Harun Wangila “Ndunduma”. In the league match between Pan Paper (their new employer) and Rivatex (former employer), both Tera and Wangila justified their super roles by scoring a goal each against Rivatex and securing a 2-0 win. Tera played for one season for Pan Paper. In the league matches between Pan Paper and Bata Bullets he scored against Bata home and away. Bata Bullets signed him so that he would not score against them again in the next season. The year was in 1992. While at Bata bullets he was given a call up to the national team but got injured before going to the camp.
At the AFC Leopards Den
From 1995-1997 the serial killer in the name of Tom Tera “Tt” was plying his trade at the AFC Leopards den. Here he came in mostly as a super sub and scored many decisive goals and provided many assists. His coach at Ingwe was Reuben Malola from Malawi (deceased). At Ingwe he appreciated his role as a super sub. The team was star-studded and he had to fight for a position against William Inganga, John Odie “Kasongo,” Patrick Shim, Kitali Ngaira, Omar Banza, Peter Kakonge and Solomon Tebebe among others.
Best 11 at AFC Leopards
1)Washington Muhanji 2) Mickey Weche “Makuku “T9” 3) Francis Oduor 4) Reginald Asibwa 5) Musa Otieno “Otero” 6) Iddi Abubakar 7) Tony Sejero 8) Washington Khamadi 9) William Inganga 10) Tony Lwanga 11) Tom Tera.
After Leopards he briefly joined Utalii f.c under Rishadi Shedu and played together with James Nandwa, Bernard Baya, Elkana Swaka, Gerald Origi, Jeff Oyando, James Onchera and Ronald Otieno “Raldo” among others. He also played briefly for Chemilil Sugar before finishing his career at Masaka FC and Mbarara FC in Uganda. He retired from top flight football in 2002.
His toughest markers were Isaiah Omondi “Janabi”, Tobias Ocholla “Jua kali”, Mickey Weche “Makuku” ‘T9’, Sammy Omollo “Pamzo” and John Bobby Ogolla “Six million dollar man” who was on his way to retirement.
I asked Tom Tera to tell me his best midfielders in the country and he mentioned Wilberforce Mulamba “Maradona” of AFC Leopards and George Onyango ‘Fundi’ of Gor Mahia f.c. He described Mulamba as skilful, very intelligent, powerful, team player, motivator and had a powerful shot. He says Mulamba was a joy to watch. For George Onyango Tera described him to have great penetration passes, skillful in dribbling and did not like contact as he was not the aggressive player. Mulamba comes out to be the most superior of the two. After mentioning this two midfield maestro’s he notes that George Onyango “fundi” and Dennis Munyendo had the best through passes. Weighed passes per excellence. Dennis Munyendo a qualified teacher by profession and a principal was also a principal in the midfield. Munyendo a true gentleman of the game went on to inspire fledging talent in high schools to pursue soccer and academics.
During the playing days of Tera his best goalkeepers were Charles Bwire Namudeche and Charles Omondi “Korea”. They commanded their goal area and they were very aggressive. As a striker Tera says 1V1 situations and crosses were left for them. They were also good in saving penalties
Tom Tera’s role model striker was Mike Okoth. He describes him as a motivator, powerful in the air and good in providing assists apart from scoring goals. He was a professional footballer in Belgium.
His best coach is Chris Makokha (RIP). According to him Makokha was very experienced and he molded him into a utility player. He says Makokha tapped his raw talent and nurtured him into the great player he became. His 2nd best coach was the late Reuben Malola from Malawi. This coach instilled confidence in players. Malola was a great motivator especially when the players felt low.
Life after football
After glittering careers it is never easy for many footballers and other sportsmen to cope with life outside the limelight and attention they enjoyed during their illuminating careers. It’s usually a tall order to settle if one did not make hay while the sun shone.
After his retirement Tom Tera started by coaching community teams on voluntary basis to give back to the community. After which he coached the Maseno University football team from the year 2004 to 2014. Some of his football products are abroad and support him. Some are playing in the KPL.
Currently he is an assistant coach at Vihiga United which gained promotion to participate in the 2018 Premier league. The Head Coach is Edward Manoa while the second assistant is another football great Francis Xavier. One of his daughters is currently pursuing a degree in Media studies at Moi University while the other daughter is a business lady. His son is currently playing for f.c. Talanta in the Superleague. He is by all means a happy dad after retirement as a player.
It is December 30th 2017 when I decide to have a walk around Kakamega town the home of football. The cool breeze from Kakamega forest is not disappointing either and the view of the crying stone reminds me of my Geography when I was a student. Everyone I meet here to me looks like a football player and giant in the game to say. This is just my perception as a football lover. Reading the minds of most people it’s clear that they are thinking about the New Year celebrations.
For me apart from praying to the good Lord that I see the new year am thinking of which footballer to interview next in this land of plenty football heroes. From veteran Kenyan goalkeeper Washington Muhanji, former Rivatex and Kenya Breweries defender Festus Serenge, Mickey Weche “Makuku” “T9”, to former Shabana FC, Eldoret KCC, and AFC Leopards midfielder Francis Xavier. The list is endless. While trying to think of whom to interview first I remember an unsung hero from Vihiga United in the name of Frankline Mwenda and this is his story.
When Frankline Mwenda started playing football he already knew he wanted to be a goalkeeper. Like many footballers he and his fellow kids played a paper ball. Mwenda lived in Kirua in Meru and studied at Mitoone primary school until standard four. After leaving Mitoone, he joined Angaine Primary School in Timau. He played competitively for his primary school up to the provincial level. While at Angaine Primary School, he signed for Homegrown FC which was playing in the Super league.
Life in the streets of Nairobi
After completing his KCPE, life became very difficult for the young Franklin Mwenda. His single parent Beatrice Mwendwa would not make ends meet. The financial constraints were too much for Mwenda to bear. The disillusioned young boy decided to leave for greener pastures in Nairobi, the city in the sun. Things turned out the opposite for Frank Mwenda as he decided to hustle in the streets around the year 2006. More desperate than before, Mwenda became a pauper along Jogoo Road. Together with other street children, they collected metals using magnets for a living. They used their income to buy food and gum which they inhaled.
They slept anywhere between Muthurwa and the busy town center. They faced challenges such as harassment from city council. The city council gave them hard labour with no pay. They were also canned thoroughly. During the rainy seasons, sleeping for them was a nightmare.
After three years of hopelessness and no light at the end of their tunnel, Frank met a good Samaritan by the name Alex Mwangi who worked with City County at City Stadium. Alex was himself a former goalkeeper of Mathare United. He was a member of the 1998 Mathare United team that qualified for the premier league. Watching Frank and his friends play a paper ball at the roundabout on Jogoo Road near City Stadium, Alex was touched and asked them if they could play soccer if given a chance. The City Stadium manager by then Mr. Obiero provided them with a field outside City Stadium to play 7-aside matches. Alex Mwangi brought them a coach by the name Reggae (deceased). Football was used by Alex and coach reggae as a tool to advocate for reformation against drug abuse. Alex hired for them rooms to live in Kololeni. He negotiated with city council to open a public toilet at the City Stadium and a kiosk inside City Stadium. He started for them a handcart business, trolley for selling boiled eggs and smokies. The children home that Alex started for these talented yet less privileged children was called Stadium Homeless Youth (SHY). When these street boys started reforming, Alex asked them if they could join school. Mwenda was among those who decided to join high school. He joined Matuu High School on a full scholarship.
Football at KEMU
After high school, Mwenda joined KeMU FC which was playing in the FKF National Division One. By the time he joined KeMU FC the league was already in the 2nd leg. The following season he also played for KeMU FC in the FKF National Super League 2015. He was also admitted as a student in KeMU to study Hospitality and Tourism management while nurturing his football talent. Mwenda found a KeMU FC team that played aesthetic football that mesmerized the fans. The team believed in winning beautiful.
He met other talented goalkeepers like Julius Odanga who was the captain, Emmanuel Eipa and Reuben Juma. He also played in a KeMU FC team which had the midfield trio of Sean Opuora, Ian Munene and Nigerian born Kazeem Adenkule. They were complimented by Melvin Muthomi “Kupe”. This midfield captivated the imagination of the fans so much that they even entertained the opponents. They had so much understanding of each other. The striking force was razor sharp with Morven Otinya, Meshach Bwire (2017 runners up as MVP in the Sportpesa league tournament) and Stephen Onyango. Stephen Mwiti complimented the striking force. Mwenda helped KeMU FC finish among the top 5 in the highly competitive 2015 Super league.
Best 11 for KeMU FC in the 2015 Super league
Frankline Mwenda 2)Antony Murithi “Bena” Michael Odongo “Alaba” 4) Washington Mugubi 5) Moses Mweya “Kose” 6) Ian Munene 7) Steven Onyango “Onyi” 8) Sean Opuora 9) Meshach Bwire 10) Kazeem Adenkule 11) Morven Otinya. The same year which is 2015 the flamboyant goalkeeper in the name of Frank Mwenda played a crucial role in spearheading KeMU in the 2015 Kenya University Sports Association (KUSA) National University games in JOOUST University in Bondo. KeMU finished 2nd overall after losing on post-match penalties in the final to Kenyatta University. Mwenda is remembered for his great exploits in saving penalties in the tournament most importantly in the semi finals against the highly fancied Strathmore University coached by legendary Harambee Stars and AFC Leopards defense kingpin Mickey Weche.
Best 11 for KeMU in the 2015 KUSA Games
1) Frankline Mwenda 2) Elvinho Offion’g (Nigerian) 3) Michael Odongo “Alaba” 4) Enock Waka Ojode 5) Joseph Theuri 6) Ian Munene 7) Kevin Shebi “Emeka”, 8) Calvin Ihaji “Carzola” 9) Meshach Bwire 10) Kazeem Adenkule 11) Morven Otinya “Mwalimu” Elvinho Offion’g was the favorite name for the commentator as he always mentioned him so many times in the KUSA Games that if there was an award for the most mentioned player then it would have definitely been him. Never mind Mwenda was the MVP.
Oserian FC – the next home
After KeMU FC withdrew from the league in 2016, Mwenda joined Oserian FC. Other players who moved on after KeMU’S withdrawal from the league included goalkeeper Reuben Juma and Morven Otinya who joined Sofapaka FC’s “Batoto ba Mungu” in the Sportpesa KPL, Sean Opuora joined Super league side Bidco FC while Steven Onyango and Majje Muchesia joined law enforcers Kenya Police also in the Super league. Defender Moses Mweya went back to his roots at Kangemi All Stars which has qualified for the 2018 Super league. Kazeem Adenkule and Meshach Bwire joined Fortune Sacco in the FKF Division one league.Goalkeeper Julius Odanga, Washington Mugubi, Godfrey Mugambi, Albert Nsengu (Rwandan bon) and Melvin Muthomi “Kupe” joined Mahakama FC which is in the FKF Division two league. Antony Murithi “Bena”, Ian Munene, Stephen Nairuti, school boy Martin Mburugu “Puyol” Eric Bundi “Yanki” and Ali Mustapha joined Mutindwa FC also in the FKF Division two league. Enock Ojode joined fellow scholars Strathmore FC in the FKF Division one.
Goalkeeper Emanuel Eipa, Stephen Mwiti, Jefferson Kairi, Michael Odongo “Alaba” Elvinho Offion’g , Jackson Bassey (Nigerian), Antony Muriki “Fanto”, joined Ruiri Forest Rangers owned by Angaine who has lived in Milan Italy for around 30 years. Angaine signed these talents to create a winning outfit that will rise from the grass roots in the County league to the elite football of Kenya. Isaac Munene the KeMU team Manager got a call up to Harambee Stars as a kit Manager. This story is not about players who left KeMU FC but it’s about acrobatic goalkeeper Mwenda.
After one week of trials, he impressed the technical bench and was signed as a goalkeeper. He went on to play the last 7 matches of the FKF Super League after displacing the first choice goalkeeper Joseph Lokale. It wasn’t easy displacing Lokale since he was experienced and had played for Oserian FC in the premier league before.
Glory days at Vihiga United
After ending up the season successfully at Oserian FC, Mwenda’s gods were smiling at Vihiga United. Again the ever-determined and disciplined Mwenda went to Vihiga United for trials. In part of the trials he played in friendly matches against Muhoroni Youth, Kakamega Homeboys, Tusker FC, Zoo Kericho, Wazito FC and Nakuru All Stars. He finally penned down his signature under Head Coach Manoa and Francis Xavier (Assistant).
When the Super league started, Mwenda was rarely in the first 18. He was the third goalkeeper of the team. Despite this, Mwenda trained harder with more determination than ever. After 4 matches, he was called in the squad of 18. In the 5th match against Agrochemicals in Chemilil Complex, he was selected as the starting goalkeeper. His time had come and the rest became history. From there he started between the sticks and won the following matches with Vihiga United: 1-0 against Police in Mumias, 3-0 win against Kibera Black Stars at Camp Toyoyo, Drew 0-0 with Nairobi Stima in Mumias, 2-0 win against St. Joseph in Nakuru, 2-0 against AP in Mumias, drew 0-0 with KCB in Machakos Stadium, beat Talanta FC 2-1 in Mumias, drew 0-0 against City Stars in Camp Toyoyo, won 3-1 against MOSCA at Camp Toyoyo, beat Bidco 2-1 in Mumias and drew 1-1 with Modern Coast at Mbaraki Stadium. A remarkable performance to say.
At the end of the season Vihiga United were promoted in the 2018
Sportpesa KPL. When we talk about Mwenda we talk about Vihiga United’s promotion to the KPL and when we talk about promotion of Vihiga United to the KPL we talk about Mwenda.
In the GOTV shield cup he played for Vihiga United in the 7-0 demolishing of Elimu at Afraha Stadium in the first round. He played in the emphatic victory against Tusker FC at Nyayo Stadium in the quarter finals where Dennis Lugalia and Charles Okwemba sank the Ruaraka based giants. Mwenda also played in the play-off against Sony FC at Kasarani where they lost 2-1.
“My toughest match was against the experienced KCB squad while the most memorable was against City Stars since my acrobatic saves put Vihiga United in the game”, Says Mwenda.
Mwenda also had an opportunity to go for trials in Honkong and is back in the country. He reached the skies to try his luck just for the love of the game.
This season 2018 the boy who once lived in the streets will pray that his star shines brighter. Football for Mwenda has been a long and life experiencing journey that he thanks God for.
The football prodigy from Meru. Antony “Sire” Murithi in a past action for Ulinzi Stars in a KPL match.
Antony ‘Sire’ Murithi has been a player of firsts. The first player from upper eastern to single-handedly help his high school to qualify for the Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA), the first high school boy to play for the KeMU football team, the first player from Meru to be selected at the National Youth Talent Academy (NYTA), the first player in Meru to play in Ghana and the first player from Meru to play for premier league side Ulinzi Stars.
26 years ago at St Teresa hospital maternity ward in Kiirua Meru not only was a new baby boy born in the name of Antony Murithi but a great talent from God had arrived on planet earth. The blossoming football talent all begun at Kaaga Primary School in Meru where Antony Murithi attended his primary education. He started playing football while in standard three. He started as an offensive player. Most of his players in Kaaga Primary were sponsored by ARK Children’s home in Meru and this resulted in great football chemistry. Most of them were selected to play in the nationals of the primary school competitions. Murithi played in these competitions from standard four to standard eight. ARK was rich in facilities and equipment. He was recruited by 4 stars a local club in Meru that played in the provincial league.
High School Days
After successfully completing primary education, the young and player of great promise joined Kaaga Boys. He was scouted by the coach Mr. Kandaru who was a teacher in the school. Mr. Kandaru is the most remembered sports teacher in Meru for his ability and initiative to scout talented players and get them admitted to the school so that they would study while he nurtured their talents. He was a Sudanese by birth and had taught in Western Kenya and that is probably where he got this rich football culture. Other notable alumnus from Kaaga Boys are John Muguna and Elias Murega from Meru both of whom played for the defunct Mafuko Bombers in the super league which was the highest tier in the country by then.
After form 2, Kirige High School coached by Caesar poached the boy with awesome talent and perfect set pieces. It is here in Kirige High School that the star of Antony Murithi would begin to shine. He single-handedly helped the little known Kirige High School qualify for the national championships in Machakos for the first and probably the last time. No school from upper eastern had ever qualified for this football arena.
Most of his goals came as a result of his devastating skill of scoring from free kicks. In terms of scoring from dead balls we can easily call him the Lionel Messi, Christiano Ronaldo and Andrea Pirlo, of Meru. He never went wrong when it came to dead balls. At some point he even scored directly from corners. His right foot was as good as his left foot. The other player in the Kirige team who would be compared to Murithi was called Gikonyo. Schools like Kyulu, Masii and Tala had dominated Eastern province and they often represented the province in the nationals. At the national championships, Murithi’s team received a baptism of fire from football heavy weights such as Mombasa High School and Thurgem. His best team was Mombasa High since they were more composed and skilled than the other teams in the competition.
Football at KeMU
Antony “Sire” Murithi with KeMU FC in a friendly match in Nairobi
After the KSSSA games in Machakos Murithi joined KeMU FC to gain more exposure. As part of CSR KeMU gave players from the community an opportunity to train with the team and play in open tournaments and FKF competitions. By the time he joined KeMU FC football in the University was undergoing revolution that gave birth to the mighty KeMU FC and the unmatched KeMU Queens which would b the best ever University team in Kenya and East Africa. At KeMU FC Murithi gained a lot of exposure since the University was at a higher level football wise than at his high school.
Here at KeMU he got an opportunity to play high profile friendly matches and open tournaments all over the country. He played for KeMU in the Upper Eastern provincial league while in form 3. He scored many fantastic free kicks for KeMU that earned the team several valuable points. His most memorable goals for KeMU FC are deadly free kicks. He was also the best penalty taker at that time. He helped the University win several open tournaments and travelled with KeMU to Uganda to play in a football competition at Nambole Stadium in Uganda. In Uganda he stood tall in defense and the opponents doubted if he was still in high school because of his immense confidence and perfect ball control. At KeMU he got an opportunity to attend a referee clinic facilitated by Maxim Itur as a CSR activity to the community. KeMU also organized coaching clinics to the community by inviting James Sianga (deceased) and Bob Oyugi through the support of Jeff Kubai the then games tutor.
National Youth Talent Academy
On competition of his high school education at Kirige it was not the end of the road for the sensational Antony Murithi. A countrywide selection of Youth’s under-23 years was done by UNICEF scouts. 3 players were selected from each province. Who else would be selected from Meru? It had to be Antony Murithi. Selected from Isiolo was super striker Abdi Mali while Ken Mugambi was selected from Embu. This is the year 2010 in January. The UNICEF camp was at Kasarani Sports Complex. This is where the boy from the dusty grounds of Kaaga Primary would camp for almost two years. To him, this must have been Disney world since there were dozens of training balls and elite coaches which Murithi missed in his early football days. In his youth they mostly trained with one ball. Here at NYTA they were under coach Boy Oyugi, Edward Karanja, George Maina and Charles “Korea” Omondi the goalkeeper trainer. At NYTA Murithi was converted into a full back. “Murithi can use both feet effectively and has power to switch the ball and play diagonal passes. That is why I had to convert him from a midfielder to a full back.” This was Bob Oyugi’s remark on the utility player. NYTA trained twice a day and played many build up matches against Kenya Premier League teams and even the national team Harambee Stars. They never lost to any premier league team in they played against in the friendly matches. Apart from football, Murithi was able to attend Computer, Communication Skills and ethics classes. The NYTA program was tailor made to produce holistic and all rounded players.
One of the memorable opportunities at NYTA was the tour to Accra for a youth tournament hosted by Liberty Academy. They played against several clubs from Ghana and Nigeria.
Antony “Sire” Murithi at the JKIA before leaving for Ghana to participate in the Liberty academy Football Tournament.
Ghana dominated in the tournament because they had participated and won the world cup U-20 championship the previous year. Climate in Ghana was a challenge since Kenya had not acclimatized. The Ghanaians’ were physical and skilled. “The food in Ghana was also a challenge since their Ugali is like uji and it follows you when you are eating it”. This is how Murithi described foo foo a popular delicacy in West Africa. The trip to Ghana opened the eyes of many NYTA players. “The players discussed and said Ghana was playing soccer while Kenya was playing football”. Murithi stresses how football in Ghana is adored.
Passionate Ghanaian fans
Murithi says one unique thing with the fans in Ghana is that they wake up in the morning for roadwork to be physically fit. The fans in Ghana are very noisy and good at destructing their opponents. “In Kenya you only have Mariga while the rests are athletes. Us we have Sulley Muntari and Michael Essien”. This is Murithi’s testimony of those soccer crazy Ghanaian fans. “You should be under 15 and not U-23”. A fan yells at Murithi before the match. “Kenyans you play while very relaxed. Here in Ghana you go I go, you run I run, you sit I sit.” This is another fan intimidating the Kenyan players. It was a good test on the mental toughness of the Kenyan players. Murithi appreciates that he had been used to seeing the Indian Ocean but here there was Mediterranean Sea. Sports tourism was an experience too. “Ghanaians are friendly to anyone who is a footballer”. Murithi happily states this privilege. While at NYTA Murithi also featured for the National U-23 soccer team.
NYTA players after graduation.
Hard work, determination and discipline always pay. Antony Murithi and three other players being unveiled at Ulinzi Stars FC.
The “class of 2012” of the NYTA had hybrid players and most graduated to premier league teams. Murithi joined Lanet based Ulinzi Stars, Goalkeeper Farouk Shikalo Tusker FC- Muhoroni – Posta Rangers, Dashan Lubembe joined Kakamega Homeboys- AP Bomet, George Nzenze joined Sony Sugar- Nairobi City Stars, Abdi Malik and Andrew Murunga joined Gor Mahia, John Nairuka joined Thika United –Ulinzi Stars-Posta Rangers, Enock Momanyi and Justin Onuonga joined Ulinzi Stars while Martin Lamaiyan joined super league outfit FC Talanta.
Murithi at the Kenya Premier League
At Ulinzi stars Murithi was a utility player. He played in midfield and mostly as a fullback. Here at the military base he got an opportunity to be coached by Benjamin Nyangweso, Yusuf Chippo, Sammy Simiyu, Salim Ali and Robert “The lion” Matano.
Antony Murithi Standing 2nd from left in a KPL match between Gor Mahia and Ulinzi Stars at Afraha stadium in 2015.
His hardest match was a KPL match between Gor Mahia and Ulinzi at Afraha Stadium. “It was tough because both Ulinzi Stars and Gor Mahia were both big teams at the apex of the league standing. My toughest opponent that day was Michael Olunga because it was difficult to mark him since he had speed, skills and power.” He gave the military men a run for their money. The year is 2015.
The worst KPL match for him was against Muhoroni Youth at Muhoroni Stadium. This was because of very poor officiating in favor of Muhoroni Youth who were battling relegation. “We almost fought back but remembered we were KDF and had a duty to serve the nation, and there was another life after football,” says the footballer turned soldier.
International Military Games
A golden handshake. Antony “Sire” Murithi gets an opportunity to shake the hand of President Uhuru Kenyatta in the Military games held in Kenya in 2013.
At Ulinzi stars, Murithi won the military games gold in Kenya in 2013. Ulinzi repeated the same feat in 2014 where they were crowned champions in Zanzibar. In 2015 they finished second in Uganda and again became champions in Rwanda in 2016. Murithi is happy to have been part of this success.
“Playing against fellow soldiers is much easier than playing against civilians as they are not as hard and claim many easy fouls.” That’s Murithi experience as a footballer and a soldier. “We at Ulinzi play hard and fair but our opponents perceive it to be rough”, Murithi emphasizes this fact on the solders style of play.
Giving back to the Community
Murithi participates in several activities to give back to the community including visiting children’s homes and sharing his football skills with upcoming youngsters in Bidii Sports academy in Meru and Division two teams like Mahakama FC and Mutindwa FC which hail from his home yard. His advice to upcoming footballers in Meru is to work hard and embrace high discipline since it is paramount for success.
Giving back to the community. Antony “Sire” Murithi gives a motivational talk to high school students in Meru where he started his football career.