By Paul Ombati
Corrupt and greedy Officials have been one of the many sadly sang songs in the Kenyan Football industry not forgetting the tribal politics many put a lot at stake in election of Officials. These cartels masquerading as club officials have been one of the major setbacks derailing the progress of Kenyan football, killing lots of footballing talent.
Football is not only a talent but a career where number of individuals depend on to earn a living yet a player’s wellbeing is put at stake with greedy officials who are ready to steal even the last penny of club’s revenue. This has come haunting one the best Western sides in Kenyan Premier League; Nzoia Sugar Fc.
"As Chairman of Fans, am disappointed that Mwalala has succumbed to Cartels in the team.
We'll fight the cartels day and night," says one George Kinuthia, a leader of the Nzoia Sugar Fans Association.
Nzoia sugar is a brand ambassador and Top Marketer of its Sponsor, Nzoia Sugar Company. Back in 2004, Managerial tussles led to the team being disbanded. It was then formulated once again in 2012 and under the leadership of Former chairman Yappets Mokua and Coach Bernard Mwalala, the team was back to KPL having won the NSL in 2016. Having come back to KPL, it was when a section of individuals called for the election of new management in the clubs hierarchy. The elections were held on 19th January,2017 where the then chairman who had uplifted the team to KPL lost in a largely tribal characterized elections with the shienywe shi shienywe (a luhya term meaning your own is your own thus vote for a person from their own tribe) narrative took control of dubious elections where fans were locked out from voting. A chairman who had led the team from grass to grace lost.
A new office was later elected in under the leadership of Brian Keya. Leadership is about passion and service delivery and the effects of the elections were seen with a high rising rate of misappropriation of Club's funds. The transfer of Lawrence Juma from Nzoia to Gor Mahia proved to expose some officials who had failed in their duty. The chairman and Secretary were fired and new officials brought in.
The recent resignation of Head Coach Mwalala Bernard puts on the limelight just one of the many dark scenes behind Nzoia. The writer's investigation confirmed that the coach was not at peace with some officials because of his Firm stand on the right of players and state of the team. Of note was the day they played Gor Mahia at Kisumu.
"Some officials were not happy with Mwalala after the match against Gor, the team met the officials at a hotel, Mwalala led in demanding the officials to pay the players their allowances since they promised to clear the allowances from the gate collections of the match against Gor Mahia. Some officials were not happy with Mwalala and they staged to fire him, a move which backfired, "says a source from the office who spoke to the writer and requested anonymity.
It is understood that the current sponsor is facing financial crisis and therefore, players allowances are to be dealt with by the club's office through incomes the club generates. The Match against Gor was precisely taken to Kisumu, a fan base of Gor although Nzoia was the home team just to generate income. It saddens that yet with good collections, the officials could not clear off the allowances of players who have never been paid since May.
"Since we played against Thika in May,we have never received anything apart from fake promises from the office. We have families, have to pay rent, eat and dress yet they (office) have never given us anything," says one of the players (name is withheld) in an exclusive interview with the writer.
Even the part of the Team's stewards were left stranded at Kisumu at night unpaid with no transport means while the officials were in a hotel. They were later transported by Fans driver Jay Omaset (Omar) yet the office has never paid him till now.
Our investigations brought out many unanswered questions on the part of the Office. Where do gate Collections go? Having hosted more than 25 KPL matches, the office has never given a financial statement of the clubs income.
Another Scandal has been the question of where transfer fees of sold players go. Such kind of funds should enable to help the team buy other quality players (Which has never been happening since the coach has been forced to bring in free transfers or high school students).Betting firm giants Sportpesa are the league sponsors and Nzoia being in KPL, it's mandated to get around half a million monthly, where this funds go remain unanswered.
It is without doubt that greed and corruption at Nzoia sugar FC is on the high end and it’s a high time the Company management intervened and saved the situation or otherwise loose one of its top brand ambassadors. Fans have also not been happy with the proceedings, led by their chairman George Kinuthia who has been vocal in unmasking corrupt deals in the team.
Other fans also weighed in on the issue;
"Mwalala's departure is a big blow to the team. I don't think if we can ever find a coach who believes in the young and uses the little he has to achieve his goals. I wish players all the best during this trying moment, I hope that they are able to give all their best. On corruption, those culprits should be sent out of office and should not be anywhere near the team," said Levi Wafula.
Mokua Weighs In
Our Sources also reached to Former chairman Yappets Mokua who had this to say, "I believe what the club is going through is a temporary situation. It will come to pass".
On his advice to players, he added "Only those who have very good offers should think of leaving. The Coach has his career, they have theirs. They should fight for their careers on the pitch. They should not assume that Nzoia is Mwalala alone. There are other people who can make a difference."
It's a high time that we hope the Company's management will intervene and save the team from corrupt hands, sort out the players’ problems and provide long lasting solutions.
By Paul Ombati