Elly Kalekwa: The Scandalous Congolese Tycoon Who Transformed Kenyan Football

Sofapaka FC is one of the top football clubs participating in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL). The football club which is based in Wundanyi, Taita Taveta County has won a total of three trophies including the Kenyan Premier League title in 2009.

In this article, WoK brings you the story of Elly Kalekwa – the owner of Sofapaka FC, his contribution to Kenyan football, his personal life and his football club.

Who is Elly Kalekwa?

Elly Kalekwa, popularly known as ‘Prezda,’ is a Congolese national who has Rwandese roots. The tycoon is a business mogul with interests in the sports sector, transport, real estate and hotel industry. His businesses are spread across the East African countries – Kenya and Uganda and overseas in Cyprus.

Establishing Sofapaka FC

The name Sofapaka is derived from Swahili words which mean ‘Sote Kama Familia Kwa Pamoja Kuafikia Azimio.’  The club originated from the Men’s fellowship of the MAOS Ministries football team which was established in 2002 and took part in inter-church competitions in Taita Taveta County. Later in 2004 Elly Kalekwa jetted into the country and took over the club to establish Sofapaka FC.

The team, famously known as ‘Batoto Ba Mungu’, begun playing in the lower level before being promoted to the national second tier and later into the Kenyan Premier League in 2009. Since then, the team has continued to compete favorably in the league except in the 2016 season when they survived relegation after finishing 14th in the table with 26 points only. This was after Blue Triangle Company withdrew the Ksh 33 million per year shirt sponsorship.

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The Success of Sofapaka FC

Sofapaka FC ranks among the successful football clubs in the country. The team made history after it won the President’s Cup while still playing in the second-tier league, defeating mega teams like Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards who were already playing in the National league. The team was later promoted to the national league and made history again by winning the Kenyan Premier League in their debut season. The club has since continued to make great progress in the nation league often finishing in the top five category.

Some of the notable achievements of the team include; 2010/2011 Kenyan Super cup runners up, 2007, 2010 and 2014 Kenyan President Cup 3rd position, 2009, Kenyan Premier League Winners, 2017 Kenyan Premier League runners up, 2017 The Mashujaa cup winners, 2018 Kenyan Premier League position 5, 2018 Sportpesa Shield Cup runners up and the 2018 Jamhuri Cup winners.

Spending millions and changing Kenyan football

Elly Kalekwa is credited WITH transforming Kenyan football. Sofapaka made history by becoming the first Kenyan team to own a bus and a physical office. He then developed a club’s stadium – Wundanyi Stadium which has a capacity of 1,000 fans. The Congolese national also introduced professional contracts in the club and started the business of buying and selling of players in the country. While speaking to the Standard, Kalekwa revealed that he has spent over Sh1 billion shillings since the football club was established in 2004.

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“I can’t really tell the exact amount of money I have spent on the team, but what I know is it runs into billions of shillings. And if you have a good product you can recoup that money. But you must be passionate about football for you to heavily invest in it,” he revealed.

He went on to explain that football is a business like any other. Which means that one must first have a brand and make it strong before you start making money from football.

Once we realize that football is a business, then it will drive you to make money. And this can only work well with business-oriented players who know their valuation well. Like what we did with Fiston Razak. We bought him for Ksh 4 million then sold him for Ksh 20 million to South Africa after six months. That means we did a good business just after six months,” he explained.

The Tycoon also revealed that he is planning on another multi-billion investment project that will consist of a modern academy, hotel and stadium in the next eight years. He has also partnered with an England-based international players’ transfer company that will be dealing with Sofapaka transfer activities. The same company handles more than 32 percent of Premier League side Manchester United players.

The Scandal

As reported by the Standard, in 2017 Elly Kalekwa was deported from the country three hours after he was reportedly caught in a hotel room with the wife of a senior Jubilee official. The hotel the two were busted in is based in Langata road as reported by the Nairobian. However, Kalekwa came out to deny the allegations claiming that ‘it’s a big lie.’ Sources speaking to the Standard revealed that security agents of the politician had been tipped off about regular meetings between Kalekwa and the politician’s wife.

When Kalekwa arrived at the hotel that day, a staffer alerted the politician’s bodyguards who rushed in within 20 minutes. Using a master key from the reception, they opened the room where Kalekwa and the woman were liaising. Kalekwa was seated on the bed and the woman was standing by the bathroom.

It’s not clear if they had finished their business or were about to get started. Kalekwa was beaten mercilessly by the bodyguards, driven to his house in Kileleshwa as they awaited for further instructions from the Mheshimiwa. The Jubilee official then secured a deportation order and the bloodied Kalekwa was driven to the airport in high end vehicles and was deported to Congo through Uganda,” revealed the source as reported by the Standard.