April 01, 2014

"During that entire period, Kenyan football was dead, and English football became religion," says Carol Radull, a leading sports reporter. "I think it was Samuel Eto'o who said 'You can go to any village, in any part of Africa, kick a ball and make an instant friend.' Kenyans understand the language of football, we just respect foreign football more than we respect our own."

Kenyan Victor Waynama, left, playing for Premier League club Southampton against Manchester United, one of the most popular clubs among Kenyan soccer fans.
Jon Super/AP
Mathare United team members laugh with Bob Munro, right, at the opening ceremony of the Mathare FIFA Football For Hope Centre in Nairobi, Kenya in September, 2010.
Neil Thomas/FIFA/Getty Images

By 2007-2008 season, the local football scene had changed entirely: football had become professional, and before long, SuperSport was so impressed it negotiated the league's television rights. Tragically, 2007-2008 was also the year everything changed for Kenya; violence erupted after a disputed election, and the country was in flames. Over a thousand people were killed in the violence and countless others displaced.

The Kenya national team poses before a World Cup qualifying match against Nigeria in March 2013.
Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images
Gor Mahia FC defender Musa Mohamed, right, vies for the ball with Esperance of Tunis Striker Haythem Juini during an African Champions League match last month.
Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images

Idil Abshir is a Nairobi-based journalist. She has contributed to The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, and The New York Times blogs. You can follow her on Twitter @idilabshir.

You May Like