In this interactive series, we invite our readers to send in questions to select public figures. Answers will be published in the next print and online editions. This week, Football Kenya Federation President Nick Mwendwa responds to your questions.
Why did SuperSport terminate the contract with the Kenyan Premier League (KPL)? As Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President, what are you doing to bring back the broadcaster so that the league does not suffer?
Bob Otieno Owino, Kisumu
SuperSport terminated its contract with KPL on the basis that the warrants that they were given by KPL (that KPL was the body mandated to run football in Kenya) were not true.
Since that happened, FKF has stepped in and opened discussions with SuperSport with a view to giving any guarantees required to keep the deal going.
SuperSport has since indicated we could not discuss further and as such we (FKF/KPL) have started working together to move forward and craft an innovative way to handle broadcasting rights for our league.
Our vision is that instead of having one broadcaster keeping all rights, we are going to package our league rights for mobile, free-to-air, pay TV, radio and gaming rights as separate components in order to maximise the rights.
We are also pursuing the option of producing the matches ourselves so that we can control the content. This is to avoid having a single player presenting the kind of problem we are currently facing in future.
I cannot comprehend that Mr Sam Nyamweya, with all his shortcomings, was able to put Kenyan football on the global stage through live coverage. On the contrary your best achievement so far has been to remove that through endless turf wars with KPL. Sir, is Kenyan football any better with SuperSport pulling out?
Kombwayo Silas, Mumias
The SuperSport pullout had nothing to do with FKF failures. We did not interfere in their dealing with the KPL at all at any time. Further, we have since engaged them and realised that the pullout had many other reasons around it. If you look at my response above, you will see more details.
We will have a better situation with broadcasting rights in a few months and will prevent a situation like the one we are in. Kenyan football will be much better; this is an opportunity to learn and configure ourselves for better future.
Why do you irregularly elevate clubs that you have dealings with?
I did not elevate teams that I have dealings with. The club you have in mind is Kariobangi Sharks, I am sure.
The club was already in the national super league by the time I was elected. Indeed, Kenyans elected me partly because of the work I had done at the club.
In the 2016 season, the club was the undisputed second position in the national super league and therefore deserved promotion to the top league.
The rest of the clubs promoted have no links with me.
It is also important to note I have since relinquished my position as club chairman (of Kariobangi Sharks) in order not to have any conflict of interest while executing my duties as FKF president. Finally, note that this club was founded in 2001 and went through all leagues in the hierarchy to get to the top.
Why have you not followed the laid-down rules in appointing your vice chairperson to head the finance committee, instead of going for your best friend as chairperson in disregard of Fifa procedures?
Tom Alila, Nairobi
The procedure in our constitution is very clear. Committees are recommended and put in place by the National Executive Committee and that is what we have done.
The best individuals have been given fitting appointments and are continuously reviewed and changed when the need arises.
Sir, for Kenya to be a global powerhouse in football 10 years from now, we need to establish academies in all counties to tap talent from primary and secondary schools and give the upcoming players international level training and exposure. What is FKF doing about this?
Ichenga Mugao, Tharaka Nithi
Towards the youth setup effort, FKF has so far started national Under-13 leagues through our sub branches and this weekend national finals where selection of the national Under-13 side will be selected will be held in Nakuru and the same team will travel to Southampton for an international tournament this year.
As those children grow up, we shall establish the national Under-15 side that will also be selected in the same way. Further, FKF has partnered with the ministry of Education to use schools for football education and work together in the national school games.
This includes sharing data and working together to establish a syllabus for football in schools.
Finally, FKF in conjunction with Fifa, is looking to pursue a project of equipping 22,000 schools countrywide with a training set and a coach – having so far trained 2,000 basic coaches nationally in 2016.
How prepared is Kenya to host African Nations Championship (Chan) 2018 games?
Abuga A. Mark, Nairobi
We are working round the clock, alongside the government, to ensure readiness. However, I must admit that much more needs to be done. I can assure you that Chan will happen in Kenya and we will continue to do all we can towards the same.
Will there be an open volunteer recruitment process for Chan 2018 to be held in Nairobi? What is the composition of the local organising committee and what plans are there to ensure fair recruitment of volunteers?
Gabriel Tito, Nairobi
There will be an open process for the recruitment of volunteers for Chan.
The local organising committee comprises government technocrats in different areas of expertise as well as football experts.
This is guided by Confederation of African Football (CAF) and Fifa standards. Expect an open process and if you are interested look out for adverts and details on the upcoming Chan website in May and June.
You are on record as saying that the problem with our football is that we lack ripe talent. What measures are the Federation putting in place to aid in spotting young talent at the grassroots?
Andrew Maranga Ratemo, Malindi
Indeed it is true that unless we work on nurturing talent in the long term, everything else we do will fail. It means investing in coaching education and youth football across the country with an effort to unearth football talent. So far we have invested heavily in the two areas.
You were elected on a change platform. Would you say you have achieved that?
Yes. In one year, we have delivered key points. For example, a functional secretariat without Fifa sanctions, youth football across the country with leagues and registered players (issued with cards and in a database), trained 2,000 basic coaches, ready syllabus in conjunction with Kenyatta University for trainers training, and the Starlets Africa Women Cup of Nations qualification.
Others are the women premier league and women division one, the National super league on TV for the first time, a sponsor (Sportpesa) coming forth to partner with FKF, referees training increasing the pool of officials available and many more points in just one year.
When did you become acquainted with football in a serious way?
I have always had a deep interest in football since primary school, and in fact I was a games captain all through secondary school.
Mr Mwendwa, listening to some radio sports commentators, they give an impression that you are part of those who are seeking to oust the Confederation of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) Secretary-General Nicholas Musonye. What is your stand on the matter?
Oluchina Antony, Emuhaya
Political speculation happens every day in football because the sport belongs to the people.
Cecafa presidents met in Kampala a week ago to deliberate on our region including the performance of the region which we all agree is wanting.
We were not discussing anyone’s ouster but I must admit that the performance of the secretariat was discussed and there was agreement to make it more proactive and responsive to current football trends.
Sir, why can’t FKF come to an agreement with KPL to form one body and end the wrangles that have persisted for some time now? We need SportPesa Premier League back on air.
Mwania Francis, Kitui
FKF/KPL are now working together for the betterment of the game. For example, we are working together to bring a new broadcasting regime to Kenyan football and you will see that going forward. The arguments you have seen before will begin to end and in time there will be more teamwork and better organisation.
Since the SuperSport deal collapsed, should football clubs in the country be allowed to do independent and exclusive broadcast sponsorship deals? I feel this will better address unique needs of club fans. Ced Lumosi
The practice around the world is to collectively sell rights so that there is more bargaining power and also to have fairness by preventing a situation where certain clubs are financially stronger than others. The bigger clubs have other opportunities to explore besides the unified rights which can grow them financially.
Past wrangles in the federation have largely been associated with selfish and inept leadership.
When you assumed office, many thought that these wrangles would cease and much energy focused on salvaging the federation in order to deliver results.
Bearing in mind the wrangles that delayed the start of the current season, wouldn’t it be right to say that you have disappointed those who believed in you so far?
Komen Moris, Eldoret
Kenyan football has taken massive strides since I arrived in office.
It is important to note that the perennial disagreements between the KPL and FKF were there since 2004 and, therefore, it was always going to take a while to overcome such issues.
But there is more co-operation now and you will continue to see that in the coming months and by the third year, it will be a thing of the past.
Mr president, in my January resignation as Samburu sub-branch FKF deputy secretary-general, I gave five reasons for my decision. These included some sub-branch officials using your name to extort money, tribalism and dictatorship, lack of transparency and accountability at the sub-branch. To what extent have these been dealt with and what does the future hold for our football loving fans in Samburu?
Mike Lesiil, Samburu
We are working every day to ensure that regional administration of the game improves in all areas.
Every year we are now giving out 10 per cent of all sponsorship value to the regions in order to improve the same.
On the same token, we have drafted regulations on how funds should be spent at the grassroots.
There will be serious consequences for not adhering to such regulations.
Look out for this going forward and you will see action being taken against administrators who will not account both operationally and financially. The secretariat will immediately follow up your case.
The national team, Harambee Stars, only plays in Nairobi and of late Machakos. The attendance is often not satisfactory owing to the fact that they always play in the same venue. Why can’t FKF organise for Harambee Stars to play their international matches, both friendlies and qualifiers, in different counties to popularise the sport and draw more fans?
Derek Liech, Mombasa
This is a very interesting thought that we have considered lately with the Machakos experience. The attendance and support was better for the Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo matches.
It occurs to us that there is a lot of support for the national team in other towns. As we work on the venues, you will begin to see the team travel more to Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Meru and even Narok where venues will permit.
Why are you out to finish community-based clubs, opting for your own club Kariobangi Sharks?
Kariobangi Sharks is a community club that hails from the Nairobi suburb of Kariobangi. Having the club in that area is, in fact, promoting community clubs.