By Isaac Blessings
Football is the most popular sport in Kenya. We’ve seen great players emerging from Kenyan clubs and ending up in some of the world’s top leagues. Many Kenyans have always wanted to know the people behind these top local football clubs and in this article we provide the answers.
Here is a list of the men behind Kenya’s top football clubs.
Nick Mwendwa – Kariobangi Sharks
Nick Mwendwa is the owner of Kariobangi Sharks – a team playing in the Kenyan Premier League. The former Football of Kenya Federation (FKF) president founded the team in the early 2000s. As a young man he used to see a few boys playing at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church grounds in Kariobangi and was attracted to their zeal and passion for the game. He decided to join them to offer guidance and assistance in terms of balls and jerseys. He later started training them on weekends when he wasn’t going to work and with time it became a structured and well organized team. They adopted the name Kariobangi Sharks and Mwendwa registered the team in February 2001. The team played in small leagues until during the 2015-2016 season when they secured a ticket to join the Kenyan Premier League after defeating Nzoia United in the finals of the National Super League (NSL).
Ricardo Badoer – Wazito FC
Ricardo Badoer is a Swedish Billionaire based in Dubai and he is the owner of Wazito FC – a team that participates in the Kenyan Premier League. It is rumored that he spent over Ksh 80 million to acquire the club from its founder Solomon Alubala in December 2018. He is very passionate about football and also happens to own CD Ursaria – a team that plays in the Spanish fifth tier. Since he became the owner of Wazito FC, he has invested heavily in acquiring some of the best players and experienced coaches who have transformed the club from playing in the National Super League (NSL) to the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) within two years. Apart from football he has interests in the banking, real estate and media sectors. He holds major shares at Sumac Microfinance Bank in Kenya and Hakika Bank in Tanzania where he is among the board of directors.
The club is facing financial hurdles.
Jonathan Jackson – Nairobi City Stars
Jonathan Jackson is a Kenyan billionaire born and raised in Eldoret but with British roots. He is the owner of Nairobi City Stars – a team playing in the Kenyan Premier League. He acquired the club through his foundation dubbed ‘Jonathan Jackson Foundation.’ The foundation’s main aim was to transform the lives of Kenyan youths through sports and arts. He set up the football club through his foundation with the aim of giving the young youths a platform to showcase and enhance their football skills and talents. Apart from football, he is the founder of Lordship Group, a company that has invested heavily in Real Estate in several African countries.
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Elly Kalekwa – Sofapaka
Elly Kalekwa popularly known as ‘Prezda’ is a Congolese renowned businessman. He owns Sofapaka Fc which simply stands for ‘Sote Kama Familia Kwa Pamoja Kuafikia Azimio.’ The club is among the most successful clubs in Kenya having won the Kenyan Premier League in 2009. Aside from football, he has interests in the hotel industry, real estate and transport sectors in Kenya and Cyprus. He is credited for bringing great changes in the structure of football by introducing professional contracts, selling players, building an official office and buying a club’s bus making it the first team in Kenya to achieve such milestones.
Ken Ochieng – Zoo FC
Ken Ochieng is a Kenyan lawyer and owner of the Kericho based team – Zoo FC. He founded the team in 2009 amidst all controversies that the area is only good at athletics and not football. He has grown the team from just a small squad made up of local village players to a national team that participates in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) as of 2022. He single handedly funds the team with his little income that he gets from his law firm – Ochieng K and Associates.
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Bob Munro – Mathare United
Bob Munro is a Canadian-born entrepreneur and owner of Mathare United. He founded the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) in 1987 when he worked as an advisor for the United Nations in Nairobi. MYSA’s main aim was to support young talented ghetto kids giving them an opportunity to compete against each other in football under structured fixtures. He later founded Mathare United in 1994 and grew the team from playing in the MYSA tournaments to the Kenyan Premier League (KPL). He is the only football club owner to own both a men’s and women’s team with the Mathare United Ladies’ Football Club participating in the Kenyan Women’s Premier League.
Cleophas Shimanyula – Kakamega Homeboyz
Cleophas Shimanyula is a Kakamega-based businessman and the owner of Kakamega Homeboyz. He has been for the longest time financially supporting the club singlehandedly until recently when the County Government of Kakamega and Betting firms came on board to sponsor the club. He owns the Western Cross Express Company Limited – a company in the transport sector that runs a fleet of Matatus operating in the entire western and Nyanza region.
Laban Jobita – Western Stima
Laban Jobita is the owner of Western Stima – a football club that participates in the Kenyan Premier League. He founded the Kisumu-based team in 1997 and three years later he got sponsorship from Kenya Power and Lighting Company. The club has been since then sponsored by the company until recently when the sponsorship was brought to an end during the Pandemic. Jobita has continued digging into his pocket and personal funds to sponsor and make sure the team remains afloat.
Bhimji Depar Shah – Bidco United FC
Bhimji Depar Shah is the founder and chairman of Bidco United. He has been at the helm of leadership of the Thika-based club since its inception seeing it grow from just a local team playing in the National Super League (NSL) to participating in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL). Aside from football, he is an Industrialist, entrepreneur and renowned businessman. He is the founder and chairman of Bidco Group of Companies – a family owned manufacturing conglomerate with subsidiaries across 13 African countries. He is among the wealthiest people in Kenya with an estimated net worth of over US$800 million.