Matiba: Astute leader with passion for local football

Tuesday April 17 2018

Kenneth Matiba, then Kenya’s Minister for Culture and Social Services with legendary boxer Mohammed Ali when he visited Kenya in 1980. PHOTO | FILE |

Kenneth Matiba (left), then Kenya’s Minister for Culture and Social Services, with legendary boxer Mohammed Ali when he visited Kenya in 1980. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP NATION MEDIA GROUP

By LARRY NGALA
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In addition to his struggle for multi-party democracy in Kenya, former Member of Parliament for Mbiri Constituency (now Kiharu Constituency) and Minister for Culture and Social Services, Kenneth Stanley Njindo Matiba, was one of the best sports administrators Kenya has had.

A football lover who also had passion for mountain climbing, Matiba, then chairman of East African Breweries, realising the rot in football administration in Kenya in the 1970s, set up a strong team of football officials to form what became known as Kenya Football Federation (KFF).

Shortly before registering KFF, Matiba, had used his influence to have KFF’s precursor Football Association (FA) of Kenya deregistered.

FA of Kenya had mismanaged the game of football in the country for far too long, a situation which angered Matiba.

He called for a stake-holders meeting at the then Desai Memorial Hall along Nairobi’s Tom Mboya Street to explain the action he had taken.

Matiba received an overwhelming support from football lovers and went ahead thereafter to set up a strong team of top football administrators that included Elijah Obare Asiko from Re-Union (formerly Luo Union).

Asiko was later replaced as KFF secretary general by the late Zack Mbori, former boss of Kenya Shell who was also an official of Gor Mahia Football Club, Mahmoud Mohammed, then Managing Director of Elliot’s Bakery and an official of Black Mamba Football Club official.

Harambee Stars team manager, Mbarak Said from Cargo Handling services (Now Kenya Ports Authority) in Mombasa was also part of Matiba’s team at FKF.

The team of officials was later joined by another Gor Mahia official Mahallon Danga. Together, they put up a strong structure in place in the soccer body which restored the dignity of the local game.

It was through those structures that football in the country started gaining momentum.

A Kenya Football League which was registered under Company’s act, and run by former Kenya Breweries Limited company Secretary Chris Obure as fixtures secretary, was put in place and clubs participating in the league started making money through gate collections.

By the time Matiba joined the government  as a cabinet minister in charge of Culture and Social Services after being elected as a Member of Parliament in Mbiri, Muranga, Kenya’s national football team Harambee Stars had won the East Africa Challenge Cup (now the Confederation of East and Central Africa Football Associations Senior Challenge Cup) three years in a row from 1981 to 83 under national coach Marshall Mulwa.

It was during Matiba’s time as KFF chairman, that Fifa President Dr Joao Havelenge and football legend Pele visited Kenya.

National football federation KFF also purchased the Fifa House at Jamhuri Park.

To date, no one knows what happened to the house after Matiba’s departure from Football in 1979, and the entry of the late Dan Owino as chairman.