Sports

Ingwe, K’Ogalo chiefs reflect on tough 2020/21

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021 02:00 | By
Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier and his AFC Leopards compatriot Dan Shikanda during a press conference mid this year in Nairobi. Photo/PD/David Ndolo

With the 2020-2021 season fading away in the rear view mirror,  AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia chairmen took a look back at the tumultuous year and share some of the struggles and lessons as they plan for the 2021-2022 season.

“2020 was a problematic year for us in the field of football management,” said Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier about one of the most difficult years for sports in Kenya. 

After first being reported in China late in 2019, Covid-19 eventually made its way into Kenya’s borders in March 2020, with the first case confirmed by the Ministry of Health on 13 March. 

By 15 March 2020, the government had closed schools and recommended working from home measure.

Soon after, sporting activities, places of worship, and other non-essential locations were shut down until further notice.

It is at this point that the country began to get a picture of how much the pandemic was going to affect their lives. 

Neither K’Ogalo nor Ingwe had faced a season as tumultuous and challenging as in 2020-2021.

When the country’s phased re-opening started, players were finally allowed back on the field but getting them to the field turned out to be a different kettle of fish altogether. 

The hope, in the middle of a turbulent period for Kenya’s most decorated football teams, came in the form of a much-needed sponsorship deal the two clubs landed in June 2020.

“Betsafe came to us at a time when we had very few options. They have always met their sponsor obligations on time, in fact they had paid for the season in advance and that has allowed us to pay our players and staff and meet other financial obligations,” said Rachier. 

“Not many people understand what it takes for a team to appear on the pitch over the weekend to play a league match.

It is a week of training, transport, security, and health, all of which are costly,” added Shikanda. 

“With a partner like Betsafe supporting us, even with the measures they had to take due to the tough economic climate, we can focus on improving our performance for the coming season.” 

The Leopards are still buoyed by a strong fourth place finish in the 2020-2021 season, while K’Ogalo have their eyes set on the CAF Confederation Cup after beating their arch rivals in the finals of the FKF Cup 4-1 in post-match penalties. 

Both chairmen hope they get to play the next season in front of fans after a full season of empty bleachers. 

Shikanda, with his playing days still fresh in his mind lamented missing the 12th man.

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