Kinyua: Q and A with FKF boss Nick Mwendwa
- With less than two months to the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) elections, all eyes on the presidency with the incumbent, Nick Mwendwa, already declaring interest defend his seat
- Mwendwa, the Kariobangi Sharks FC founder was hailed as the football savior in Kenya after mobilising his ‘Team Change’ to topple former president Sam Nyamweya in 2016
With less than two months to the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) elections, all eyes on the presidency with the incumbent, Nick Mwendwa, already declaring interest defend his seat.
Mwendwa, the Kariobangi Sharks FC founder was hailed as the football savior in Kenya after mobilising his ‘Team Change’ to topple former president Sam Nyamweya in 2016.
Nonetheless, it has not been a walk in the park in his football transformation journey with critics poking holes on some of his decisions and principles thus far.
Our own Alex Kinyua walked Mwendwa through his close to four-year journey at the helm of FKF top office.
Kinyua: Are you disappointed Kenya couldn’t better the 2004 African Cup of Nations record in Egypt this year?
Mwendwa: We performed well in the Afcon. I know so many people weren’t maybe happy because we didn’t make it out of the group stage, but c’mon we faced eventual finalists in our group and we performed to our level best.
Kinyua: Was that your target?
“My first target was to make sure we are back in the big league. Then after that, we need to build on that, now that the boys know it’s possible to be playing against the likes of Senegal and Algeria and compete well. The next step is to make it a regular thing for Harambee Stars to qualify to Afcon and now shift focus to making it to the World Cup.
Kinyua: Tell us about this World Cup dream. How possible is it considering where we are now?
Mwendwa: “It’s very possible. Kenya will qualify for the 2026 world cup in USA. All we need to do is ensuring we straighten football operations in the country and we will get all the talent we require. We are gradually drawing a beautiful part of our football history as we have active teams in the Under 15s, Under 20s and the Under 23s. That’s such a huge pool of talent to pick from by the time we get to 2026.
Kinyua: That’s Harambee Stars, what about Harambee Starlets?
Mwendwa: “I can almost certainly say the ladies will qualify for the World Cup before our men’s team because it’s easier there. The level of competition is not as huge as in the men’s game and therefore it’s an opportunity we are looking to take.
Kinyua: Are you bothered that Kenyan Premier Leagues is almost at its knees following the exit main sponsors, betting firms? This is happening in your tenure Nick…
Mwendwa: It’s tough; it’s really tough for many teams out there. Teams are struggling to even make it to matches. Look at what is happening with Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards. They are raising money through donations and contributions to honor matches, leave alone paying their players salaries. It’s just incredible.
I don’t want to speak about the industry so much because the government has a job to do with regard to regulations. However, the truth of the matter is we lost 600M by locking out some betting companies from operating here in Kenya. Betting supports more than 60% of football teams in the world. Are we going to lock it out? No. We only need to regulate it better.
Kinyua: How comes the beautiful game cannot attract sponsors in Kenya, at least the thriving firms?
Mwendwa: I wonder why corporate firms don’t want to take advantage of such glorious opportunities and advertise with our football brands. It’s a massive marketing platform and I hope in future many others can show up and support football, both at the grass roots and the national levels.
Kinyua: Several people are interested in FKF presidency. Are you scared of losing your seat come the next elections?
Mwendwa: Whoever wants to run is free to do so as long as they comply with the FKF electoral code. We won’t bar anyone from running as it used to be done back in the days because we want a level playing ground for everyone.