ASHIHUNDU: Branches must play bigger role in club’s success - Daily Nation

Branches must play bigger role in club’s success

Monday August 13 2018

AFC Leopards fans join a jig during their Kenyan Premier League match against Mathare United at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos on March 10, 2018. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO |

AFC Leopards fans join a jig during their Kenyan Premier League match against Mathare United at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos on March 10, 2018. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JOHN ASHIHUNDU
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As we expect more victories in the remaining matches including the eagerly awaited Mashemeji derby against our noisy neighbours on August 25, our coaches and officials should start engaging people with different skill sets to move the club forward.

Most importantly, the fans need to emulate the supporters of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s when the club relied on strong branches in Mombasa, Eldoret, Nakuru, Nairobi, all public universities and the entire Western region.

Every branch in liaison with the club headquarters would host the team anytime within their area.

We appreciate the commitment of formers patrons, Moses Mudavadi, Cyrus Jirongo, Chris Okemo, Walter Masiga, Alfred Sambu, the late Francis Chahonyo, Musalia Mudavadi and others officials who worked for the club around that time. May they continue to prosper in their journey!

The branches would make sure the players are comfortable before, during and after matches in those days while officials who were unable to keep up with demands of the team were dismissed.

Fans including club legends would provide a safe and comfortable environment for the team and would not take it lightly if Leopards lost to Gor Mahia, Kenya Breweries (now Tusker) and Scarlet — only a win or draw would be forgiven.

Those were the days that Ingwe players would fight for every title on offer — hey knew the fans had their backs.

Interestingly, Ingwe fans would travel by bus from up country to the city, then proceed to Burma Market for breakfast.

For lunch, they would gather at a reserved stall for staunch Ingwe supporters where Leopards players would eat before anybody else.

Gor Mahia fans and players had their stall too — nobody would dare cross to their opponents’ corner! Leopards used to recruit players mostly from schools in the Western region with a few exceptions like Mahmoud Abbas, Issa Juma, Omar Shaban, John Arieno Papa, John Busolo, Issa Suleiman and Abdul Barasa who were from the Coast.

It reminds me at my first time watching our beloved Ingwe live in Nairobi. However, we need to realise times have changed!

Fans used to be very loyal to the team.

Today, some people have commercialised their support for Leopards! They only support the team and officials because of the benefits they draw from the club. What a shame!

Recalling how things were done then, Morris Lemo Ingati, former secretary of City Square Branch, says the current generation of players are underperforming because club officials have ignored some cultural aspects associated with the team.

When branches demanded to meet players, the environment allowed for productive dialogue. Branches would meet club officials too.
This helped settle issues in the team.

The principals, methods for engagement and team’s ethos developed by its leaders helped make collective goals achievable.

I take this opportunity to congratulate the boys for beating Mathare United — given the fact that we have struggled against the Francis Kimanzi’s boys in the past.

The boys did well by winning 2-1, despite playing one-man less. The boys must also be congratulated for rallying from three goals down to beat the slum boys 4-3 in the first leg at the same venue on May 10.

Time has come when when AFC Leopards need to be put to their former state, beating teams in our local league, but again our defence is still conceding easy goals.

Coach Rodolfo Zapata, who took over in May, seems to be doing a good job and must be supported by all.