OJUANG: Why sports personalities in Kenya must make hay while the sun shines 

Sunday June 21 2020

Veteran former Harambee Stars coach Marshall Mulwa delivers his speech during the launch of a book written by veteran sports journalist Roy Gachuhi on Kenya’s football history Kick-off in Nairobi on July 5, 2018. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO | NATION MEDIA GROUP


There is a recurring theme in Kenyan media of former sports personalities that are in financial dire straits after retiring from their respective disciplines.

These people are usually household names and, as such it, shocks Kenyans all the time they appear in the papers looking run down and suffering immensely! We have heard of former Kenyan cricketers who, in their heyday, drove around in fancy cars and now do not even have a roof over their heads to shield them from the elements.

There are hockey players who the country has since forgotten; athletes complete with medals hanging on their necks and torn suits flapping like the attires of scarecrow and quaffing illicit brew like deranged fish; thousands of footballers; jockeys and third rate darts men… the list is endless.

These are people who represented our country and they are often referred to as those that “brought us fame.” Their squalor in slum life must indeed prick our conscience, and that is why we are moved to action soon as we are told of their torment.

This is why the case of Marshall Mulwa has prompted former players to come to his aid, and the Governor of Nairobi, Mike Mbuvi Sonko, already rushed to the old man’s aid.

Kenya Football Coaches Association chairman Ricky Solomon says they will form a committee to raise money to support Mulwa. 


The chairman himself noted with understanding of the situation: “We know many former football coaches are languishing in poverty, but we have to move with speed to support Mulwa especially this time of Covid-19 pandemic when movement is restricted.”

The point is that they know many languishing in poverty! He thinks he knows the cause of this deficiency when he blamed the football bodies: “We have been paying foreign (coaches) millions of shillings unlike our own who have excelled in different disciplines. Retired sports personalities who have brought fame to the country need a decent living.”

We admit that local coaches are paid less than the foreigners. We accept that our players do not earn as much as those in other leagues; we confess that our management of sports in this country only attracts the worst amongst us and they roar like luminous fat flies startled from human dung.

To all that we own up. So what is the solution? The chairman has it: “The Ministry of Sports need to fully take care of retired sports personalities.

Most of them live on handouts as they languish in poverty.” He also suggested that a sports foundation be formed to cater for sports personalities who had sacrificed a lot to bring glory to the country during their heydays.

All those ideas are good, but no finger is pointed at the sportsmen and women. Nobody loves being a beggar, we assume, but they must take care of themselves too. Handouts are never a solution!

When they are in their prime, they must save their cash and make a future foundation. They have served their country, just like a primary or nursery school teacher has done; they have sacrificed less than a teacher of mentally challenged children who does her great task far from the glare of fame! They must take care of themselves.

This should go to our current talented lads in the game. Start now to make your future secure.

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