Football leaders hail departed Swaleh at final memorial service


Hussein Swaleh, a former Secretary General of the defunct Kenya Football Federation (KFF), died on ...
Hussein Swaleh, a former Secretary General of the defunct Kenya Football Federation (KFF), died on Sunday, 10 March 2019 in the Ethiopian Airlines crash. (PHOTO/Courtesy)

In Summary

  • Kenya's football family led by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa on Wednesday converged at the Embu County Stadium, in the final memorial prayers for the former federation's Secretary General Hussein Swaleh, eulogising him as a football doyen.
  • Swaleh, was among hundreds of passengers killed in the ill fated Ethiopian Airlines on March 10, while returning home from Egypt having served as a Confederation of African Football (CAF) Match Commissar in an Isamaily versus TP Mazembe clash.

Kenya’s football family led by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa on Wednesday converged at the Embu County Stadium, in the final memorial prayers for the former federation’s Secretary General Hussein Swaleh, eulogising him as a football doyen.

Swaleh, was among hundreds of passengers killed in the ill fated Ethiopian Airlines on March 10, while returning home from Egypt having served as a Confederation of African Football (CAF) Match Commissar in an Isamaily versus TP Mazembe clash.

While speakers of all walks of life spoke of Hussein’s passion and wealth of knowledge in matters football, an ugly reality contradicted the song, from the abandoned Embu Stadium where he also played football in his youth.

Having ran football at the highest level during the defunct Kenya Football Federation (KFF) as the SG, Mwendwa said his demise has robbed Kenya of great football brains.

“Swaleh knew a lot about football, that’s why he would be always critical about our decisions. I remember him telling me I had started showing signs of serious football management when we hired former Harambee Stars coach Paul Putt. He could not have just sat as a branch chairman, he was quick to ask me for other roles in the game, and that’s why we finally gave him the match commissar role that he was playing till his demise,” Mwendwa told the hundreds of mourners.

Mwendwa, who was accompanied by his vice-president Doris Petra, CEO Robert Muthomi, FKF National Executive Council (NEC) members Muriithi Nabea and Chris Ouma among others; challenged the Lower Eastern branch to keep the football vision of the departed in his honour.

FKF president Nick Mwendwa and Secretary General Robert Muthomi consulting during the 2018 AGM in Kiusumu. Photo by Teddy Oyoo
FKF president Nick Mwendwa and Secretary General Robert Muthomi consulting during the 2018 AGM in Kiusumu. Photo by Teddy Oyoo

“One way of honouring the late is ensuring his football dreams for this region are kept. The County Director of Sports is here, and the issue of this stadium (Embu Stadium) cannot escape anyone’s mind when we talk football. At the early stages, the Governor (Martin Wambora) was keen to have this stadium as one of the venues for the 2018 Chan before we lost it. Had that commitment continued we would be having a good facility by now,” charged the federation boss.

He committed the federation will support in pushing for funds to the construction if the forgotten stadium, as long as the local government is showing seriousness in the project.

“This problem is all over the country, so as a federation we can only support those who are keen on sporting infrastructure improvement.

“With around Ksh.300 million this facility will be done. Show what you have and what you are doing as other stakeholders drum for support,” emphasized Mwendwa.

His deputy, Petra, noted she’s looking forward to a day of big stage football celebration graced by the federation after coming in numbers to mourn Swaleh.

“As we pay this last respect to Swaleh, let us think of the day this facility will host big matches. It will be our pride to bring even national teams here. We will be honoured to attend the opening ceremony of this stadium, and we will do, as a further honour for the fallen football enthusiast.”

Dead on duty

In his remarks, CEO Muthomi said the demise of Swaleh was a ‘favour’ despite the untimeliness and grief it caused the football family.

“It is ‘favour’ from God to die doing what you love most. All the days I’ve know Swaleh, he has held a special place for football, that’s why he was very happy when he was endorsed for the match commissar role. I’m therefore confident he was at the right duty at the time he left us, meaning he did what he loved to the last day,” stated Muthomi, who first met him while doing player management.

Swaleh will be remembered for among other achievements, taking Harambee Stars to the last African Cup of Nations in 2004 as the federation Secretary General.

He was among the only three Kenyan CAF Match Commissars, hence FKF will have to move with speed to replace him for proper representation in the continental football body.

There was no official burial for the late as no traceable remains at the scene of the wrecked plane could be found.

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