US-based former Harambee Stars midfielder Sammy ‘Kempes’ Owino has urged the government to play a critical role in the fight against corruption in Kenyan sports.
“Scandalous people who lack proper vision for sports should not be near sports. We need proper people to run sports in Kenya and win the confidence of sponsors both locally and internationally,” said Owino in an interview in Mombasa.
“The first step Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba needs to take is to ensure all federations are led by the right people. Corruption has been a major setback to the growth of sports and especially football where leaders ask for kickbacks whenever a potential sponsor wants to come on board. This is unacceptable.”
Owino, who made his debut for Harambee Stars in 1978 at the age of 18, years added: “My vision has been to build Kenyan football foundation through establishment of football academies with proper structures but this has never materialised due to many hurdles set by the Football Kenya federation.”
Owino, who is arguably one of the best midfielder Kenya has ever produced, said he has dozens of sponsors back in Texas, USA who would like to support Kenyan football.
“We need to have proper infrastructure before any potential sponsor is interested in supporting Kenyan football. “Greedy, which leads to corruption by some elected football administrators has been a major hindrance to the growth of Kenyan football right from the grassroots to the national level,” said the former Gor Mahia and Reunion player.
Owino left the country in 1982 after he got a scholarship in USA where he established a professional football team, Texas Lighting, which featured in the second division league-the second tier to the top USA Major League Soccer.
“I have a six football complex, which has six international playgrounds among other amenities and I am in the process of establishing another nine football complex and I would like to partner with the Kenyan football leadership to take the game a notch higher. I only need to have the right leaders at the helm,” said Owino who is an engineer by profession. [Ernest Ndunda]