Growing up, she loved football: The touching story of Doris Petra - Deputy FKF boss

Football Kenya Federation Deputy President-elect Doris Petra during an interview with The Sunday Standard Magazine at the Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi. [Photo/Elvis Ogina]

Growing up as a girl, she loved football and played with boys since football was considered a man's sport. Today she sits at the football decision-making table. She might have failed in her domestic management but as a mother of six, who thriving in her childhood passion.

In layman’s language, what does your work as a football deputy President entail?

I don’t have a well-stipulated job description but I work together with Football Kenya President whereby, I am tasked with coming up with projects and football proposals that need approval from the National Executive Committee for implementation.

Besides that, I hold fort for the president when he is absent or away on other assignments.

How old were you when you got your first job in the football industry?

First, football administration is not a job it’s a hobby you undertake besides your job. I was in my forties when I got started in football. The only thing we get are allowances and therefore it needs resilience.

What did you study for in college/campus?

I hold a Diploma in Personnel and Human resource and began working with Kenya Posts and Telecommunication in 1989, now Telkom before my retrenchment in 2005. Before then I was an untrained teacher at Thur Dibuoro Secondary School in Nyakach

Was it always your passion or something you discovered along life’s lane?

I always loved football besides playing netball.

What has been the best part of this journey so far?

Working with different people in different capacities and seeing their lives transform through sports are my highest moments in this journey, more so building relations and nurturing young footballers. 

What are some of the projects you have handled in your career?

I was involved in the establishment of provincial league structures in the Rift Valley and a stable National Women's team with a consistent technical bench ensuring that former players are involved.

What is the secret to remaining relevant in the different seasons of life?

Apart from being disciplined and hardworking, you have to be a vigilant team player.

Football Kenya Federation Deputy President-elect Doris Petra during the interview with The Sunday Standard Magazine at the Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi. [Photo/Elvis Ogina (Nairobi)]

How have you managed to remain so grounded?

Working with men is not easy therefore you have to accept to work with them without infringing their egos. You have to be good at what you do without excuses and strive to remain on top of your game.

Of motivation when times are hard

I always pray a lot and never give up. I believe in falling and standing up for what I believe in.

What is your definition of success?

Success is the realisation of my dreams and achieving my goals plus positively impacting other people’s lives. I remember in 2013, I got KPL Chairman’s award and for once I got rewarded for my hard work.

I worked with Nyamweya as a National Executive committee member but being the first female Deputy President in Kenyan football... that is how I would describe my success.

How would you describe your journey thus far?

My journey has not been easy. It has been a huge struggle and sometimes emotionally draining but looking back it has made me strong and focused. The number of elections I have partaken in got different reactions from the sports fraternity and through positive and negative comments, I emerged strong.

What would you say has been the greatest privilege of your journey thus far?

I loved playing football while growing up. Unfortunately, we didn’t have women's football, therefore, I played with boys mostly, since football was classified as a man's sport. Meeting people of different social cultures, beliefs and orientations, with different ideas has helped me grow beyond football.

Have you ever found yourself jobless in any season?

I got retrenched in 2005 while working with KPTC and since then I have not been employed.

Are you married? If so, how do you juggle between work and family?

I was married but it didn’t work out. So my children are always there except for my firstborn, who passed on 3 years ago.

The greatest lesson you’ve learnt so far in your career?

I have learnt to always listen to my inner self, choose my friends wisely, pray more and keep the ladder I used while climbing up because you always need it to climb higher.

The greatest lesson you’ve learnt so far about life?

I have learnt to be patient, listen more and incorporate other people’s ideas whenever necessary and be consistent.

What are some of the projects you intend to steer once elected back to the office?

I expect we do more youth programs for the development of the Girl Child. Also, working with schools and more leadership programs for women and grass root leadership. 

How would you describe your work in relation to Nick Mwendwa, the FKF boss?

Nick is a very transparent person, therefore, if he is not happy with something he will address it there and then. He is someone who will give you responsibility and will not interfere with the actuation process. We have had a very good work relationship.

Football Kenya Federation President Nick Mwendwa(R) with his Vice Petra Doris share a light moment during their Annual General Meeting(AGM) at Kenya School of Monetary Studies in Nairobi on Saturday 15/10/16. [PHOTO: BONIFACE OKENDO]  

What’s your take on the Women's league at the moment, factoring in that there are so many areas that need improvement

Women’s leagues have become one of the greatest challenges due to the lack and unwillingness of sponsors coming on board even at club level. Hopefully, this will change once we get the matches on TV and digital media.

However, we have witnessed success despite the challenges whereby, we have 10 professional players compared to back then namely:

Corazone Aquino- Athletico Ourense (Portugal)

Annedy Kundu- AEL (Cyprus)

Ruth Ingosi- AEL (Cyprus)

Cynthia Shilwatso- FC Logrono (Spain)

Lilian Awuor- Borussia Pankow (Germany)

Marjolene Nekesa- Oklahoma University (USA)

Bertha Omita- Simba Queens (TZ)

Wincate Kaari- Yanga Queens (TZ)

Esse Akida- Besiktas (Turkey)

What is your opinion on the pay disparity between men and women in sports?

This is a worldwide problem that needs to be addressed, however, we have tried to narrow the gap on women’s allowances so that there's no huge difference. We hope to have our national club players, both men and women paid equally.

When you are not working, what do you enjoy doing (hobbies)?

Coming from a large family, I love being with my siblings. I also love housework, travelling and dancing. I can even dance alone.

Would you be willing to mentor someone into this profession?

I am so willing to mentor anyone who believes I’m worth their time.

Word of advice to someone interested in joining this profession?

In this profession, you must have a thick skin, self-respect and be ready to learn from others.  Women must get involved at all levels because creating positions will not work. We must compete at all levels. 

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