Open Letter to Rugby leadership in Kenya

Nov 25, 2011

It is said; in life you only have one passion. Statisticians say there are those in a population that are out of the norm-those that live at the fringes of the normal “bell curve”. What Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine calls “the long tail”; I am one of those people. I love my family, my church, my country and my sports….Yes, four passions.

When the Kenya Rugby Union changed the reigns at the leadership earlier in the year, unknown to many, this was a mini “Arab Spring Uprising”, a major upset in the leadership board rooms of the sport. For very long, it was the same old faces that ran rugby in the country. To their credit, rugby has grown widely. Among many indicators of the game growth is where most of the players have emerged from. 20 yrs ago, most of the national team players played their first rugby in Saint Mary’s, Lenana or Nairobi School. Today we have players from all over the nation but especially from the western region of the country.

The current impasse in the Union Board rooms to add new teams or not has caused a big split in the rugby fraternity. Some few clubs threatened to leave the league and form a parallel company. Is this FKL/KFF De Javu? I may not know what the intrigues are, but to threaten to walk out of the league pits two generations at war. The managers are the old generation, the current players are the emerging generation.

This is an appeal to you, the current crop of Rugby managers of the clubs and to you the union board (older generation). The longer we are in disagreement, the more these emerging generations of players get frustrated and disillusioned. I know some of you personally. Now we have the chance of giving leadership to the sport an opportunity to shape careers of young people. As leaders we need to understand that we have followers who trust us and trust our judgment. Thousands of young people who play the game are waiting on us to make a move and they will follow. It’s an awesome responsibility in your hands.

It behooves us to take the high road. The negative sentiments about the 2011 Safaricom Sevens, the change of venue and the new management team, shows that there is truly a new sheriff in town and some people don’t like the changes. Your responsibility is to protect the institution that made you leaders not abandon it when you disagree. This impasse is callous and as the older generation, it sets a bad precedent for future Rugby management in Kenya.

On behalf of the rugby fans and the many young people out there who want to play the game, give us leadership; don’t break up an institution that has served us well. Don’t break up an institution that has made you who you are today in rugby. Do not leave the table, sit down, talk and resolve your differences.

To the club owners, if you don’t agree with the leadership of the union, tough. Suck it up. They are our elected leaders and as leaders you also have to be good followers. The true character of leadership is knowing when to be a follower. Leaders solve problems, they don’t make them. I humbly submit to you, setting up a parallel entity to the Union’s Kenya Cup league is not solving problems you are throwing a spanner in the works. To see a sport being messed up because of leadership wrangles saddens me.

To the union leadership, maybe you don’t hear it much, THANK YOU. Keep up the good job.

Gowi Odera, a rugby fan.

Any opinion expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of