Kenya Premier League Players Have Something to Smile About at Last

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Despite being recognised as one of the best organised and fastest growing national top tier leagues on the African continent by FIFA, Kenyan soccer has been plagued with annoying perennial leadership struggles towards the end of last season. This polemic had players joining fans on social media through several campaigns to register their dissatisfaction using the sad slogan, “As a player, I am not happy.”

The Harrowing Months

The last three months have arguably been the toughest in most Kenya Premier League players’ careers. It was only love for the game that has helped propel them this far. Most clubs are still struggling to generate revenues and bring their fans back to the stadium.

This came after most fans and potential sponsors felt disillusioned by the infighting, hence unanimously though silently deciding to give the sport a wide berth.

It’s been months full of harrowing experiences. There was a delayed start of the top tier league. Some teams such as the big two (Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards S.C.) went months without being able to pay for their recurrent expenditures, including players’ salaries. Most kenyan soccer clubs do not have sponsors despite having a lot of potential, thus they live and operate hand-to-mouth from their meager gate collections.

Esperance of Tunis Striker Haythem Juini (L) vies for the ball with Gor Mahia FC defender Musa Mohamed (R) during their CAF Champions League football match between Kenyan Gor Mahia FC and Esperance of Tunis, at the Olympic Stadium in Rades (FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)

Esperance of Tunis Striker Haythem Juini (L) vies for the ball with Gor Mahia FC defender Musa Mohamed (R) during their CAF Champions League football match between Kenyan Gor Mahia FC and Esperance of Tunis, at the Olympic Stadium in Rades (FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)

The Good News

On 28th April, 2015, the KPL players woke up to good news when the Kenya Sports Journalists Association unveiled a footballer of the month award scheme in collaboration with SportPesa, an East African sports betting company. The scheme will see the best players, as voted by their members, take home Ksh. 50,000 (approximately 550 USD) and a 42 inch smart television.

“A player now has something to look up to even if salaries and allowances are delayed, for as long as you know you have done well in the month!”

A renowned Kenyan international goalkeeper said.

“This is the best news in a long while!”

Said another excited premier league player.

Kenya scores during the Nov 14 2009 Africa World Cup - Photo credit Lukas Bergstrom.

Kenya scores during the Nov 14 2009 Africa World Cup by Lukas Bergstrom.

The idea by the association, many thinks long overdue, is the first of its kind to be organised under such a huge umbrella comprising of the people who praise and criticize the beautiful sport everyday. It also comes in to complement the already existing Kenya Premier League Player of the Year Gala. Players and members of the football family and friends gather at the end of the season to witness the crowning of the best achievers.

We hope to challenge other associations in East Africa to follow suit.