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Back AFC, set up kitty in Joe Kadenge's honour: veterans

Saturday July 20 2019

Joe Kadenge burial

Political leaders during football legend Joe Kadenge's funeral service at Gisambai Primary School grounds in Soliani village, Vihiga County, on July 20, 2019. PHOTO | ISAAC WALE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DERRICK LUVEGA
By DERRICK LUVEGA
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Veteran footballers on Saturday called for support for the struggling AFC Leopards club in honour of legend Joe Kadenge, who died in Nairobi on July 7.

During Kadenge's burial at Gisambai Primary School grounds in Soliani village, Vihiga County, they also said a fund should be set up for use by retired players.

Kadenge was the no.7 player in the club in his heyday.

At least 30 football legends attended the funeral alongside leaders including former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Cotu Secretary-General Francis Atwoli.

RECOGNITION

Led by veteran footballer JJ Masiga, the legends asked for recognition and support for AFC Leopards' new officials, led by President Dan Shikanda.

"Most of these legends were born long after Kadenge wore his first sports shirt in 1957. He helped inspire many soccer players," Masiga said.

"He treated all of us as his children. Some played with his son, Francis Kadenge. To honour this great man, AFC Leopards fans should rally behind the newly elected officials."

Shikanda said Kadenge was against what he termed as "football genocide", as illustrated in the book he wrote six years ago, which cited it as a threat to the growth of the sport in Kenya.

"In the book, Kadenge wanted people to stop football genocide. At AFC Leopards, we are laying structures to enable the team play football. Let us not kill our AFC Leopards. Rally behind the club."

Joe Kadenge's widow Mable

Football legend Joe Kadenge's widow Mable Kadenge during a requiem mass at Friends Church in Nairobi on July 17, 2019. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

CAREER

Kadenge commenced his football career as an attacking midfielder and second striker for the defunct Maragoli United, before crossing over to Abaluhya United (now referred to as AFC Leopards) in 1964.

He is remembered for his silky skills, deft touches and mazy runs at the centre of the pitch, which resulted in the phrase 'Kadenge na Mpira (Kadenge with the ball)' courtesy of renown broadcaster Leonard Mambo Mbotela.

He also played for and successfully coached the national football team, Harambee Stars.

Kadenge's body was flown to Kakamega from Nairobi on Thursday for public viewing at the Bukhungu Stadium before it was transported to his Vihiga home.

Football legends who attended the funeral included Michael Otieno, Justus Muhati, John Shoto Lukoye, George Sunguti, Tony Lidonde and Mohamoud Abbas.

Others were Tom Simiti, Josephat Murila, Abdul Baraza, Timothy Madonye, Aggrey Lukoye, Arthur Okwemba and Jacob 'Ghost' Mulee.

Joe Kadenge's widow Maria

Football legend Joe Kadenge's widow Maria Kadenge during a requiem mass at Friends Church in Nairobi on July 17, 2019. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

LOVING FATHER

Kadenge's family eulogised him as a hero, painting the picture of a husband and grandfather who remained loving and caring despite his many struggles.

Widows Mable and Maria Kadenge noted that their husband brought Solian village and the country fame.

Kadenge married Mable in 1959 and together they had eight children. She called for peace in the family.

Maria and Kadenge had three children.

She said" "I bid farewell to my husband of over 50 years, a loving and doting father and grandfather to our wonderful children and grandchildren. He loved and cared for them dearly and spent a lot of time with them."

"He was a man full of life; a bigger star in his own right. He lived a humble life and interacted with the high and mighty and common mwananchi."

Joe Kadenge viewing in Kakamega

Former football players carry the coffin containing the remains of legend Joe Kadenge from a chopper to a public viewing at Bukhungu stadium in Kakamega County on July 18, 2019. PHOTO ISAAC WALE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

SPORTS FAMILY

Kadenge's daughter Suzanne said she watched football with her father.

"I choose to celebrate you and remember the great father you were. Today, I say farewell. You fought a good fight and finished the race," she said.

Kadenge's sister Esther Kavaya spoke of a first born who was their father-figure and of a sports family with representation in different fields.

She is a retired athlete while four of Kadenge's sons - Oscar, Rodgers, the late Francis and Evans - were footballers.

'EXIT KITTY'

The widow of James Siang'a, who once was Harambee Stars' goal keeper, said he was Kadenge's close friend and that they played the game together and spoke several times.

She complained that the country has abandoned football legends who brought it fame, saying that just like Kadenge, Siang'a lived in poverty.

"They placed the country on the international map. I plead that our lawmakers to come up with a legislation to address the plight of heroes," she said.

"Without a law, players will not benefit from their work. Those who retire from the field should have an exit kitty so that thy are taken care of in their old age."

Ambrose Nyabada, who also played with Kadenge, said he met the fallen hero in 1957 during a football tournament between Central and North Nyanza.

"By then, we were the youngest players," said the man from Sakwa.

Joe Kadenge's burial

Political leaders during football legend Joe Kadenge's funeral service at Gisambai Primary School grounds in Soliani village, Vihiga County, on July 20, 2019. PHOTO | ISAAC WALE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

CONTRIBUTIONS

Mr Jack Oyoo Silvester, who spoke on behalf of veteran football commentators, eulogised Kadenge as a great footballer.

Silvester, who was the master of ceremony, named sports journalists whose stars rose while Kadenge was active on the pitch.

He said the legend lived in many towns while playing for AFC Leopards and Harambee Stars from 1956.

"At the time he was playing for Harambee Stars, they competed in the Gossage Cup (now Cecafa). The cup was called Gossage because it was sponsored by Gossage Soap Factory that was based in the US," he said.