Opwora hopes to take the Ingwe bride home this time
Mathews Opwora is not a new name in AFC Leopards politics having burst into the scene in the failed campaign that saw him lose out on the chairmanship to Allan Kasavuli in 2013.
Having tasted power as Ingwe Interim Management Committee Co-Chairman since December, Opwora is once again gunning for the top seat despite his reputation as an astute leader taking a huge hit from controversies.
Should he be elected, he has pledged to bring in more sponsorship to the Kenyan Premier League giants who have struggled in the last two seasons to match their lofty standards to add on to the betting firm sponsors they have at the moment.
But the man who has receded to the background in recent months, allowing his IMC co-chair Dan Mule emerge as the administrative face of the club has never been far from scandal.
He was first adversely mentioned in March last year when he formed a ‘parallel’ Ingwe team under coach Jan Koops to play in Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Premier League when the governing body engaged in a bitter tussle with the Kenya Premier League (KPL) over the composition of the top flight.
At the time, he was accused of collaborating with then FKF vice-president, Robert Asembo, who is running against him for the top post to rock the club from within.
After world body FIFA intervened in the matter, KPL retained their 16-team top flight with Leopards under Kasavuli taking their place.
Opwora however, defended that decision saying he did for the good of the club in order to align it with the legally recognised governing body against a corporate entity running the league.
He later decided to battle the leadership of Kasavuli courts with claims he was the bona fide chairman of the club since the other faction had no registration certificate in accordance to the provisions of the Sports Act of 2013.
By mid last year, Kasavuli threw in the towel sparking the leadership crisis that saw Opwora and Mule run parallel offices as each laid claim to the chairmanship.
That October it was alleged he had taken off with Ksh4.2m from the club’s account following a fundraising exercise aimed at offsetting the huge debts the club then without sponsors had accrued.
Opwora denied the claims saying the money had been handed to a cash courier for banking after the gala dinner held at a Nairobi hotel.
“The money was contributed in a fundraiser and collected by a security firm which took it to the club’s account. Dan Mule’s group had ill motives but fortunately I had read their plans in advance,” the interim co-chairman told Citizen Digital.
Internal wars escalated towards the end of last year to an extent the club that draws massive support from the western part of the country almost split into two.
The dispute was brought before the John Ohaga-led Sports Disputes Tribunal that ruled Opwora and Mule to govern together.
In March, his co-chairman sensationally accused him of siphoning Ksh1.8m from the club’s coffers to refund rejected sponsors Betways, allegations he strongly refutes.
“The matter is still in court right now and nothing has been proved yet so nobody should try to point fingers on me that I withdrew money from the club’s account.
“I’m sure by today nobody has produced convincing evidence that I defrauded the club and it’s just a plan of my competitors who are also vying for the Chairmanship and know very well that am well poised to clinch that position,” Opwora scoffed.
On his credentials for the top seat, he takes credit as being the one who initiated the idea of registering the club according to the Sports Act since nobody had complied to its requirements in essence outlawing the club.
“It cost me more than Ksh1m to get the registration certificate but instead the Registrar decided to hand us over to the Tribunal to form an IMC so as to run the club in an interim period until when elections are held. That is when the registration certificate will be handed to the winning team.
“I financed the mobilization of members; payment of court expenses to ensure the club complied and also called for the Special General Meeting and that you know is not cheap,” he added.
He pledges within his first 100 days, he will establish an Ingwelets women’s and youth team besides purchasing land for the club to build a stadium within three years with help from his Chinese friends.
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