FC Kenya, the team in Qatar with huge ambitions
In December 22, 2010, a 22-member FIFA Executive Committee that had convened in Zürich awarded Qatar hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup.
The events of that day which saw Qatar become the first country from the Arab world to host a football World Cup sparked the start of super idea from a Kenyan who had travelled to the Gulf nation in search of employment.
John Ngurugwe founded FC Kenya which not only boasts a huge fan base, but with founder member status of Qatar’s leading amateur football league.
FC Kenya’s humble origins can be traced back to Friday’s kick-about at the park, where many Kenyans in the city gathered, simply to catch up with friends and enjoy their day off.
Close to a decade later, the team has grown by leaps and bounds with over 30 players training every week, thanks to one man – Ngurugwe.
Now the team’s goalkeeper he had only been in Qatar for three years prior to the decision, and his dream is to one day see FC Kenya compete in the professional ranks of Qatari football.
“What I want is for this football team to carry on and grow into something even bigger, you never know, one day it might be part of the Qatar Stars League,” he said.
Thanks to his involvement with FC Kenya, he is now a well-known member of the Kenyan community in Qatar, and is now using his status using football as the unifying power.
FC Kenya now has 60 players on its database, with a core squad of 30 training every week at the London Global University (UCL) Park Qatar; facilities which Ngurugwe organizes through his employers.
“When you train here, it doesn’t matter where you work, it doesn’t matter where you worship, we come as a team, we come as one family,” said Ngurugwe.
“We have so many young kids in the team with great potential; we even have players who have played in different leagues in Kenya,” he added
FC Kenya’s breakthrough came in 2014 when they took part in the Qatar Foundation Semi-Pro.
Football Cup and made it all the way to the quarter-finals.
The team went on to compete in Ramadan tournaments, the African Nations Cup in Qatar, the
Embassy Cup and – eventually – the Qatar Community Football League (QCFL), which was founded in
2017 and is sponsored by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) – the organization responsible for delivering the infrastructure and legacy required for the FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022.
“It’s a really a tough league but we have been able to survive for the past three seasons.”
FC Kenya has raised its captain’s profile to such an extent that he was asked to be the focal point for the local Kenyan community in dealings with the SC.
He signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the SC four years ago, which sees the Kenyan community support events related to Qatar in 2022 in return for exclusive access to a range of engagement activities.
Running the team is always a challenge, with work commitments and transportation costs affecting the squad size on match days.
He says for now he is determined to enjoy the World Cup when it comes to Qatar in two years’ time – but even after he eventually leaves the Gulf, he wants FC Kenya to continue to grow.
For now, though, Ngurugwe should simply feel proud about uniting his compatriots through the power of football.