Team Feature: Mombasa Eagles Football Club.

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In conversation with Kevin Kalama, Chairman – Mombasa Eagles Football Club, a team plying their trade at Serani Sports Ground.

Pwani Tribune (PT): Take us back to where it all started, what inspired you to start the club?

Kevin Kalama (KK): As an avid football fan and a footballer myself, forming Mombasa Eagles was the actualization of a longstanding dream. Merging a passion and a cause close to my heart, that is, youth empowerment and mentorship. A formal club setting raises the stakes for players. More than just a recreational activity, in a formal setting, the commitment to win makes the players apply themselves better and embrace teamwork. It also nurtures discipline and a winner’s attitude. All these are ingredients to living a successful life even off the field. Working an 8-5 job while some of my teammates were still job-hunting, starting the club was also an avenue to have their talents noticed and hopefully rewarded. The football club was officially born in August 2019 and we joined a competitive football league, Division 2 Level of the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Mombasa Sub-branch.

PT: Was it a challenge to get formally registered? Take me through the registration process for a new football club in Kenya.

KK: The registration process is done through  the Sports Registrar as per the Sports Act 2013. You need to submit your constitution, office bearers, premise and address. You get registered as either a Sports Club, a County Sports Association or a National Sports Organisation. We are a registered sports club. I commend the Federation for making the process a smooth one. The Sports Act 2013 is online and gives detailed guidelines and requirements that parties should meet.

PT: How do you source talent? Any minimum age requirement to play for the club, or is it as they say in football “If you’re good enough, you’re old enough”?

KK: Initially, recruitment was the coach’s sole responsibility but we have now established a system we are slowly integrating. We conduct trials and also get referrals, we look out for both talent and attitude. There is no age limit but we are working to bring down our average age which is currently at 28.

PT: I have seen via your Twitter feed and website that the club has a great structure, how was the management and technical team assembled? Do the coaching staff have prior coaching experience?

KK: Setting up the team structure entailed looking for people in my network who I can tap their expertise on. They provide counsel and support to this initiative in many different ways. I wanted to run a professional set up from the get go. We have a Secretary who handles our communication, a measured and calm guy. An accountant handling our finances. A marketer holding our market portfolio. A former player serving as the Technical Director. The coaching staff is made up of former players who played at a competitive level with teams such as Bandari, Lakeview Warriors and Utalii. They have been around football and have coaching qualifications. Their experience means they can be trusted to determine the team set-up tactically while also cultivating a strong mentality and discipline culture in the squad.

PT: Are you in a position to to pay the players any salaries or allowances presently?

KK: The resources are currently limited to ensuring we have the basics. The family and comradery spirit come in handy when one of us is in difficulty but we wish to get to the point where we can give match allowances and a monthly subsidy. We are looking for and are approaching potential sponsors. At the moment we are in conversations with some, to help us in transport, equipment and medical costs. At the end of the day, this is a community team, we hope that people will view this project as something that will benefit the whole community. Every community needs role models for youth to look up to, we are confident in Mombasa Eagles FC’s potential to produce such.

PT: You have mentioned medical costs, football being a contact sport, injuries are expected. How have you been able to cater for these scenarios?

KK: We have a medical kitty that caters for treatment of injuries incurred during trainings and games as well as assisting in the payment for treatment of other ailments. In addition, we have 2 First Aiders who work under a Professional Medical Practitioner and a First Aid kit that we replenish whenever the supplies dwindle. As earlier stated this is an area that is a challenge financially and we appeal for sponsorships and patnerships that will cater for the players’ medical bills or subsidize the cost for us.

PT: What do you consider your key achievements so far?

KK: During the Covid 19 pandemic, some of our players lost jobs and ‘hustle’ opportunities. The club provided basic food items to each player until the time restrictions were eased and they were able to source for other means of income generation.

We have a Mentorship and Life Skills Program every Friday where we invite individuals who have excelled in different careers to impart positivity. In the football sphere, we have in the past invited Maurice Sunguti who had a distinguished playing career in the country.

We are happy to have a growing online presence across the social media platforms. Other than Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Instagram, we have our website www.mombasaeaglesfc.com. This visibility opens us up to any would-be support from around the world.

In our first season, we finished in 3rd place in the Machele Super Cup Tournament 2019. We also won the award for the Best Disciplined Team. In our maiden season we also finished in 9th place out of 23 teams, not a mean feat.

PT: What are the club’s future plans?

KK: We have a lot in the pipeline to make us a good club, not just a team. We have plans to start  a football academy from ages 8-19 in April. There are also plans to have our ladies’ team, Mombasa Eagles Football Club Queens, by end of March. Another program we shall also be having is a reserve team.

NOTE: Mombasa Eagles FC joins in a number of many efforts by our youth to chart their own success path in the region and beyond, against many odds. They need all the help and ideas they can get. You can reach the Chairman, Kevin Kalama, on Twitter as @kevk24.

PS: This is a feature I did in 2021, reposting on the website. Will catch up with the team to see the strides they have made since then.

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