Carry with you boots and shin guards Sambili

Published on 05/12/2008

By Robin Toskin

In an interesting twist of fate, could Sports Minister, Helen Sambili, turn out to be the mother figure that finally brings sanity to the male dominated local football?

If it is, then it will come only after bruising battles with the incorrigibly wicked football officials.

It is a game severely slanted against Sambili and which has left genuine stakeholders haplessly watching as she attempts to score against Fifa’s mandarins.

The omens are ominous. Fifa invited the good professor to their headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, to discuss not the problem with Kenyan football but Football Kenya Limited (FKL).

From the statement posted on it’s website on November 27, you get the feeling that, Fifa President, Sepp Blatter, has been duped to believe that the problem is Kenya Football Federation (KFF) and its antidote is FKL.

The statement reads in part: “Fifa congratulates the Kenyan football community on the establishment of FKL as the Kenyan football-governing body.”

It adds: “The new structure fully respects Fifa Standard Statutes and represents a positive step forward off the field, which reflects the progress achieved in recent years at both national team and club level.”

“The challenges ahead of FKL are important, and therefore, Fifa has invited the Minister in charge of sport and representatives from the Kenyan football community to Zurich to discuss the next steps, as well as the support of Fifa.”

The problem Mr Blatter, should this article ever stray to your hands, are individuals in the ‘Kenyan football community’.

And secondly, Fifa’s authoritarian approach, too, is the other hindrance to finding a lasting solution to the local football chaos.

Both sets of officials in FKL and KFF are unacceptable to Kenyans. A unified election would have lent the stakeholders the choice of one set of the warring officials or vote them out all together for fresh faces.

Central to Fifa

One would also have wished that Blatter should have travelled to Nairobi to hear first hand from a wide spectrum of the game’s stakeholders what the problem are.

After all, Blatter camped here the first time he sought to replace Joao Havelange as Fifa President. Kenya was central to his election especially in mustering votes for him in this region.

It should therefore, occupy a special place in his heart. Sadly this appears not to be the case. He cuts across as the custodian in goal who is preventing Sambili from scoring and free Kenyan youth from the shackles of the few greedy football officials.

Frustrated former footballers have even advised the Minister not accept a “briefcase” which they say converts visitors to the abode of football, to see or hear no evil.

That aside. Does the studious professor have determination of a mother tigress to protect the cubs she fondly talks about?

Some argue she is “too soft” for this game of crunching tackles and high boots.

Others ask: If the person none other than the Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, known to be a hard tackler, has retreated to the stands over the matter, then who can accomplish the journey?

Sambili, you are the only hope for the youth. They are waiting.

— The writer ([email protected]) is the Deputy Sports Editor at the Standard

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