Richard Omwela faces big battle as KRU goes to polls

Monday March 20 2017

Kenya 7s coach Innocent Simiyu (left) SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri  KRU boss Richard Omwela and Lionesses coach Kevin Wambua at Norfolk on November 22, 2016. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Kenya 7s coach Innocent Simiyu (left) SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri KRU boss Richard Omwela and Lionesses coach Kevin Wambua at Norfolk on November 22, 2016. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By AYUMBA AYODI
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Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) chairman Richard Omwela will again face the battle to retain his post on Wednesday during elections when the union holds its Annual General Meeting at RFUEA grounds.

Omwela, a Nairobi-based lawyer, will face strong opposition from Nairobi-based architecture Sasha Mutai who is also a former vice chairman of KRU and Pape Sembi, businessman based in western Kenya who is widely regarded as a key player in rugby development. Pape is currently a director at KRU.

This is not the first time Omwela is facing a big battle for KRU’s chairmanship, having taken on former KRU chairman Mwangi Muthee twice before losing in 2011. Omwela made a comeback in 2015 where he beat Charles Ouko for the top seat following Muthee’s resignation in December 2014.

While Omwela has opted to maintain a low profile ahead of the polls, Mutai, who staged a coup at the union in 2015, has been vocal both on social media and main stream media in his campaign.

Up for grabs are the 55 votes - 24 from Kenya Cup clubs, 26 from nationwide league and four from the board.

Sembi, credited with the rise of Western Bulls that was transformed from a franchise to a club, has also not come out to campaign but sources indicate that he could pull a major surprise against Omwela and Mutai as he is seen as the face of change.

The move by Kenya Cup caucus to front Omwela and other directors for posts as happened in 2015 could spoil his chances. Most university teams playing in the Nationwide League and Kenya Cup are not happy with the move, which could swing the vote in favour of Sembi or Mutai.

Sembi has appealed more to the Universities owing to his development programmes in Western Kenya and Kisumu while Mutai, who was been a darling of sponsors, also drawing support from some universities and Kenya Cup sides.

Sembi has campaigned on a platform of change by interacting more with players and clubs, something he says Omwela has not done.

Mutai was key to attracting sponsorship to KRU. He brought in Virgin Atlantic and KooGa that transformed Kenya Sevens and signed a partnership with Western Province from South Africa that saw Kenya take part in Vocadom Cup.

Kenya made huge profits at Safari Sevens in 2012 and 2013 when Mutai was the tournament’s chairman but Omwela, who has been accused of having little time for the game and failing to secure credible sponsors, questions where Mutai has been for the last two years.