AFC usher 60th anniversary celebrations in style

AFC Leopards chairman Dan Shikanda (centre), patron Alexander Muteshi (third left) and midfielder Brian Wanyama (fourth left) are joined by club legends and the late Israel Mutoka's children in cutting a cake during the Ingwe@60 celebrations in Shauri Moyo, Nairobi on March 12, 2024. [Courtesy]

AFC Leopards ushered their 60th birthday celebrations with pomp and colour across different venues in Nairobi County on Tuesday.

The two week-long festivities culmination will be on March 24 where a selected AFC Leopards team will face fourth-tier side AE Ramassa in an exhibition match at Nyayo Stadium.

This will be after AFC Leopards legends clash with their Gor Mahia counterparts.

And to kick-start their celebrations, yesterday the senior team, Ingwe ladies team and the junior team all visited different children's homes and participated in corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.

The first group led by Ingwe@60 chairman Vincent Shimoli visited Wamo Childcare together with the senior team. In Kitusuru, club patron Alexander Muteshi led another group in visiting the Shangilia Mtoto wa Africa Children's home where they celebrated the great day with the children.

The third event of the day saw the junior team visit Nile Road Special School where they played a charity match with the pupils.

The teams then converged in Shauri Moyo, Nairobi at the home of Israel Mutoka, one of the club’s founding fathers where the celebrations took place including a memorable cake cutting ceremony.

While thanking fans for standing with the team both in good and bad times, AFC Leopards patron Alexander Muteshi and chairman Dan Shikanda termed the festivities a reawakening moment for the oldest team in the country. AFC Leopards last won the Premier League title in 1998.

“The theme of Ingwe@60 is to reflect all of us club stakeholders and ask ourselves, what is ailing this historic club; we don’t have a training ground and we can’t win titles. It’s sad that we haven’t won a league since 1998 and to make matters worse, we spend almost Sh12,000 per day to hire a training ground. We are a briefcase club because we don't have a stadium. All the same, these players owe our fans a lot, they need to be rewarded with a trophy,” the officials said.

Their sentiments were echoed by Vincent Shimoli, who is also a former Ingwe player and official, saying the club is going to take a new dimension after the celebration.

“We have had this long standing heritage and we intend to take it a notch higher especially after visiting this special place (Mutoka's home," said Shimoli.

But for Cleopa Mutoka, a son to Israel Mutoka, the visit has now paved ways for Ingwe to restore their lost glory.

“We had been forgotten for so many years, but now the club is in a good position to start winning league titles like before. Coming to this home is definitely a blessing. This club will now realise its potential and conquer the continent,” Cleopa said.

It is a message that was well welcomed by AFC Leopards midfielder Brian Wanyama.

"I never knew this place, but we are glad to visit a place where the club was born. With this blessings and the squad we have, I'm confident we will soon end the title drought," said Wanyama.

Youth Enterprise Development Fund Director Faith Norah Lukosi, who attended the event said: “We want to create awareness and mobilise fans to continue supporting the team. At the same time, we are calling on the leadership to work in unity and push the club to the next level. As fans we want trophies, nothing less.”

"We are all happy to be here. But we want all our fore fathers and former chairmen to be incorporated in this historic celebrations," added Kenya Football Fans Association president Francis Liboi.

The event was graced by AFC Leopards legends including Josephat Murila, George Sunguti and Michael Obonyo among others.

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