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Super 8 League founder Mohammed wants more respect – PHOTOS

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By DAVID KWALIMWA
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Hussein Mohammed was born to inspire.

That’s the opinion I formed after spending time with him and listening to him for about an hour.

“Just look outside David,” he directs me in the middle of this interview, whilst also pointing and gazing in the same direction from inside his simple but elaborate office in Kilimani, Nairobi.

Following his pointed finger, I look out from the second floor window and notice the lush greenery dotting the area courtesy of the recent rains, leaves bustling on the tall trees that dot the surroundings amid a warm breeze in the gentle city sunshine.

Further below, a few people are going about their businesses in the hustle and bustle of the city.

Extreme Sports boss Hussein Mohammed (left) and Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri at a past event. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Extreme Sports boss Hussein Mohammed (left) and Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri at a past event. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The Wednesday evening is gradually replacing the afternoon and this, by all standards, is a calm day in the capital.

“You see,” he continues.

“All that (you see) is a blessing to you. I know you know of several other places in this world where things are not all right. Places where citizens cannot walk because of insecurity, fear of a terrorist attack, or even unfavourable weather. That’s why I always tell people they need to appreciate what we have here in Kenya.”

Inside his office, a giant painting of Mohammed, who serves as Humora Holdings Executive Chairman whilst also making time to support Gor Mahia football club in the Kenyan Premier League, immediately grabs my attention.

There are many photos in the office, including one where his younger version stands in a queue of youth leaders and politicians awaiting former President Mwai Kibaki’s handshake.

A handful of trophies are displayed atop a drawer to his left with neatly arranged books.

At just 41, Mohammed, a businessman and entrepreneur, isn’t only inspiring me. Humora Holdings has extensive interests in renewable energy, consultancy, agribusiness and sports management.

It is in sports management where a vehicle named Extreme Sports has been used to positively affect the lives of thousands of youngsters who would otherwise be wasting away in Nairobi’s middle-income residential areas.

Via Extreme Sports, Mohammed has — over the past decade and a half — been concentrating on building the increasingly popular Super Eight tournament which takes place annually in Nairobi.

This competition consists of a three-tier annual grass roots football leagues made up of 100 teams and 2,500 footballers, most of them aged below 25.

Former Harambee Stars midfielder Innocent Mutiso and Jerry Santos are perhaps the most successful graduates from this tournament. Recently, the amateur tournament received thumbs up from a special guest all the way from Brazil in the frame of former Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldinho Gaucho. In a historic visit, Ronaldinho graced the Super Eight Champions League final and watched Jericho AllStars defeat Technical University of Kenya 2-1.

Brazil legend Ronaldinho Gaucho (left) hands over the Super 8 Champions League trophy to Jericho All Stars FC captain Dismas Buggy (centre) as Betika CEO Rupen Samani looks on at Camp Toyoyo Grounds on November 11, 2018. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO |

Brazil legend Ronaldinho Gaucho (left) hands over the Super 8 Champions League trophy to Jericho All Stars FC captain Dismas Buggy (centre) as Betika CEO Rupen Samani looks on at Camp Toyoyo Grounds on November 11, 2018. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO |NATION MEDIA GROUP
“This is the future of Kenyan football, you have to keep putting in this effort and nurture the talents,” the former Barcelona player explained, with his trademark smile.

“I am really satisfied this platform has created thousands of jobs mainly for service providers.

“In the past few years, we have had over 20 players moving to bigger clubs in the National Super League and Kenyan Premier League from previous league seasons and hoping more shall follow suit. Besides playing, our clubs undergo financial literacy courses which enable them to learn basic management skills.” Mohammed adds.

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Brazilian football star Ronaldinho Gaucho juggles the ball alongside Ivy Chepkirui, a student at Nyakach Girls High School at Moi Stadium in Kisumu on November 11, 2018. PHOTO | TONY OMONDI |

Brazilian football star Ronaldinho Gaucho juggles the ball alongside Ivy Chepkirui, a student at Nyakach Girls High School at Moi Stadium in Kisumu on November 11, 2018. PHOTO | TONY OMONDI |NATION MEDIA GROUP
Mohammed’s journey includes stints as head of Sales at Safaricom, Director of Operations during the 2013 Kenya @50 celebrations, Chairman of Youth Agenda, an NGO which aims to empower and nurture youngsters, and also Chairman of the Harambee Stars Management Fund back in 2010.

From this background, he believes Africa needs to do much more to not only develop and professionalise sports.

“We haven’t fully appreciated the potential of sports (in Africa),” he explains. “(Our) athletes struggle to secure endorsement deals and very few credible sports marketing firms exist within the region.

With the Africa continental free trade area becoming a reality, players in the sports sector should prepare adequately and take full advantage of the opportunities presented by improved cross-border trade policies.

There is no reason, for example, why we shouldn’t be able to host major intra-African games across various disciplines or produce authentic sports-related merchandise for consumption within the African continent.

The notable setback of what has been a successful sports career for Mohammed was when he unsuccessfully vied for the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) presidency in 2011, with Sam Nyamweya emerging winner.

That aside, football stakeholders would ideally appreciate if Mohammed and current FKF office led by Nick Mwendwa would harmonise their operations to improve standards of football in the country. Sadly, this has, however, not been the case.

Instead, reports of frosty relationships exist between the pair characterised by occasional legal battles. In fact, several times in the past, Mwendwa has publicly vowed not to recognise Mohammed’s football leagues.

“I am least interested in getting involved in wrangles and football politics. That is what destroyed Kenyan football in the first place. Extreme Sports is a professional sports management company registered under the Companies Act and runs a private amateur league.

“Some people choose to play association football and others opt for private leagues. It happens all over the world. We welcome anyone interested in participating in ours,” he said.

That said, Mohammed is keen to congratulate the men’s national football team following their recent qualification to next year’s Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in 15 years and urges the government and corporates to stand by the players and coaches. He also lauds his favourite team Gor Mahia and Kariobangi Sharks — the latter an outfit that cut its teeth in the Super 8 tournament — for their respective exploits on the continental scene.

Sharks and K’Ogalo were yesterday eliminated in preliminaries of the Caf Africa Confederation Cup and Champions League respectively.

“Participating in the Africa Cup of Nations is a big deal and I am proud of our national team. As the former chairman of the Harambee Stars Management Fund, I appreciate the challenges the team may be facing in preparation for the upcoming tournament and urge that measures are put in place to ensure the players only focus on the games ahead,” he offered.

In the same breath, Mohammed also urges the government to do much more to support sports in the country.

He says: “Historical perceptions and attitude towards sports led to the marginalisation of industry players and related government departments. Ministry of Sports has never got the respect it deserves.

“Priority in budgetary allocations goes to Education, Health, Security and others and we have generally failed to see the importance of sports development,” he observed.

“Sports is the perfect tool for uniting society, for encouraging a healthy lifestyle which ultimately reduces our healthcare bill.

“Sports creates jobs for the youth and reduces crime rate within communities. Sports teaches us patience, resilience, tolerance, while making us progressively competitive,” he continued.

The future of sports in Kenya is bright, believes Hussein even as he sees me off to the door of his office. With such inspiration from a knowledgeable chap, it’s hard to argue.

“It is a critical component in our social fabric. Unfortunately, sports also suffered a bad reputation due to mismanagement, infighting, corruption and lack of accountability but this can be corrected with time,” he concluded.



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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