Kenya reaps as Mwendwas coaches empowerment pays off
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa put focus on the capacity building of local coaches from the grassroots level to the national level upon his election in 2016 after inheriting a disjointed football scene. Seven years down the line, football in Kenya has shaped up with the coaching department paying off for the hard decision that was taken up by the new Mwendwa administration.
Kenya’s football scene was for a long time in the doldrums with players being trained by unqualified coaches. Literary, the Kenyan national team depended on players who made it to the top level by chance rather than well set out structures but not anymore as the federation has trained over 7000 coaches.
Kenya’s neighbours made the discovery before us and invested in the capacity building of coaches while Kenya remained stuck to their traditional model until Mwendwa was voted in and took the path of putting emphasis on coaches’ empowerment.
Today, nearly every team from the lowest level in Kenya is trained by a coach who has gained some level of training courtesy of the FKF coaches’ courses initiative. Investing in capacity building changed the narrative as Mwendwa took the bold decision well aware that it would not give instant results but was aimed at improving football in Kenya, as opposed to quick fix measures which a new federation president would initiate with the aim of winning subsequent elections.
According to results from other countries that have invested in capacity building of their coaches, it is a long term process whose results can be felt way after the initiators have left office. It is a decision that Mwendwa took as a posterity measure as opposed to engaging in political theatrics.
The Nick Mwendwa administration has as well managed to change the conversation around the national team Harambee Stars. In yesteryear, the national team was shrouded in controversy with the team lacking in vital services like poor travel plans, un-paid allowances for Harambee stars, and lack of training kits among other problems. Today the focus has changed to training and performance.
Initially, players opted to remain at their clubs as opposed to training with the national team after call ups owing to the poor training facilities provided in the national team training camp but the Mwendwa administration has completely changed the narrative.
The national women's team Harambee Starlets had been neglected with the girls having to train in difficult conditions where the players lacked kits, transport and even had to carry drinking water from home to their training sessions. Allowances were never paid in time and team motivation was at the lowest. The federation under Mwendwa has moved to ensure that Harambee Starlets are given a conducive environment to train and their matches taken seriously just like their make counterparts.
The top flight FKF Premier League now has a broadcast partner after Mwendwa inked a USD 100 Million deal with Tanzanian pay tv channel Azam.
To achieve this is a process that can not be found instantly and has taken the federation’s efforts to streamline operations. With more coaches at the grassroots level, all players are now trained by qualified coaches expanding the talent pool in the country which has been achieved by ensuring that talented kids get the right coaching from their formative years.
The capacity building for coaches in the Kenyan football scene has propelled Kenyan football to greater heights with the future looking brighter than ever all courtesy of the federation’s leadership with young footballers being developed to take up the reigns in the future during the Mwendwa administration.
It is during the current administration that the federation managed to set up a fully operational secretariat and operations at the federation were streamlined and modernized.
Youth football has not been left behind at the federation either as FKF entered a pact with FIFA to develop football in primary schools.
With the FKF elections drawing closer, various candidates have declared interest in unseating Mwendwa. However, every football stakeholder can relate to the track record that the Mwendwa administration has laid as opposed to those intending to run against him.
Kenn Okaka is a Media and Communications consultant.