The few years before the millennium in Kenya might have represented the early years of transition from a pro-computer era to what is probably now a fully pro-digital era. It’s shocking the number of memories we have of Kenyan football of that time but not so much in terms of ‘hard/soft evidence’ for our sons and grandsons to see.
Don’t mistake the author for being so old but just like any other young man during that period, Television sets never introduced us to the game- it’s what we saw and took part in that forever remained etched in our minds. The silly times we thought we would have to watch a match yet we did not have any money for the gate fees, the several times we had to help clean players boots just to be allowed into the stadium, those moments we had to hide away from home- just to climb a tree and dangerously stay up there for the 90. It never ended there, the pains that came with it made the joys even sweeter- tattered tops when trying to pass through a space made on the stadium fence, several beatings for arriving home late and the cold showers that accompanied the cold nights- all meant to teach ‘a lesson’.
The current football loving kid must have evolved- he no longer has to go through the hustle we went through. Whilst his first knowledge of football names is through the TV set his father owns- ours was somewhat different. If you stayed with non-football loving parents, you probably had to be a ‘late bloomer’ but for those who went on to embrace the game early enough, they would tell you their first stars were their neighbours, friends or even relatives who played the game.
Those who stayed in the City must have found football more exciting and had a chance to visit the famous ‘City Stadium’, ‘Nyayo Stadium’ and ‘Kasarani Stadium’- for those like us, football meant something different, the old dusty potholed stadium/field, an away trip that involved ferrying by bicycles or even a home match that involved a moment of madness by the referee to deny the away team any point.
The atmosphere after a win was always memorable- our local heroes up in the air while a loss or a draw against opposition we felt were not worthy opponents was often received with sadness and the long walk back home would be best described as miserable.
While my team never had any promotion hopes, mostly as a result of what they deemed to be ‘unfairness’, ‘poaching’ or just plainly ‘luck’ I always thought we just never invested properly in the team. The disbandment of the team severally and quick set-ups when ‘some politician money’ rumour stung the air did no good to a team that merely depended on the slightest glamour of dedication and hope to survive.
For the years though it existed the memories cannot surely be forgotten. Facing local opposition was exciting and the build-up/talk towards match days would be felt all over- the market place, the church, the school, even the women spoke about it.
The level of football my team played meant they started their cup competitions way before teams in the top tier kicked off theirs. With not so many league matches then having been in a league of slightly around eight teams, the dream of a Cup Semi/Final seemed a reality- just lots of hard work and proper organisation.
So I would never forget this one season, my team beyond all expectations for the first time made it to the quarter finals of the dreaded Moi Golden Cup. The excitement might have gone a notch high and everyone waited for the opponents to be known as their tie was supposed to be played the next day.
As planned in the draws- the next level of competition would be a home match and as fate would have it, the Top Flight League Leaders were coming home. I don’t think it would have gotten any better than this- finally! Finally!
No words would best describe the atmosphere. While the home players had to change in one corner of the pitch in the bushes- the league leaders had a bus which also acted as their changing room.
The match might have never gone our way and we went down 3-1 with the lone goal coming deep into extra time probably when the league leaders knew they had us down and buried. The situation was worsened by a pounding rain but the passion of the fans kept them on the sides till the final whistle.
Years have since gone by and the memories faded away but for the few who watched that match- they still reminisce that moment. A mixture of poor handling and lost morale meant the team never built on that little bit of success and has since gone under. With no memories kept to spur the current generation of player to rise to the party like the lads of those years- it’s even hard to build a generation of ‘local superstars’ as even the past cannot be recognized anymore.
My story actually represents the several untold stories of several clubs that had the passion, had the will but never had the power both in terms of financial might and a history to build on. League promotion has since then taken over and become the new target for most clubs as Cup football has since been left to top-tier clubs.
It’s such a noble idea then that GOtv seized the moment and took over sponsorship of Kenya’s Oldest Cup competition and given hope to teams that might have never given the Cup Competition a serious thought. A prize money of a whooping Kshs.2million, a runners up prize of Kshs. 750,000 while the third and fourth winner pockets Kshs.500,000 and 250,000 respectively- it’s only fair to note the competition will now be taken more seriously.
While the cash awards might go a long way in helping these teams, it’s also wise to note players too will finally have a chance to express their talent to a wider audience. It might never be long but soon maybe two/three players from the lower tiers might make their way to the national team at the expense of top flight footballers.
In this special edition thus superfoota.com in conjunction with Supersport would love to reward two of our readers with beautiful hampers. It’s simple- kindly tell us (make a tweet using the hash-tag #GOtvShieldCup) – which past Cup moments you probably feel Kenya missed watching that would probably have had us talking all these years. The two best moments will be published in a future post and walk away with our hampers.
This year’s competition begins on 20th July and will feature 48 teams arranging from the KPL, Nationwide League and Provincial Leagues. All KPL teams have received a bye to the second round of matches with Nationwide and Provincial sides playing from the first round
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