Plea of forgotten football legends
As the country marked the fifth Mashujaa Day celebration in Mombasa to honour heroes who worked tirelessly for the nation’s pride, players especially from the football fraternity were nowhere to be seen.
Despite the president honouring world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge with an Elder of the of Golden Heart medal (EGH), his football counterparts are still in the cold without being recognized.
A good example was what happened to legendary Joe Kadenge whose name could be sung by young and the old fans because of his huge work donning national team Harambee Stars jersey.
‘Kadenge na mpira…’ a phrase he got from his skills on the pitch was not enough to earn him a tag worth appreciating – by the Kenyan Government.
Aged 63, former Harambee stars goalkeeper Mahmoud Abbas who got the ‘Kenya One’ nickname for his goalkeeping skills when standing between the sticks accuses the government of abandoning former soccer legends.
According to him, the Heroes celebrations is for honouring other legends and not footballers who not only represented the country but also flew Kenyan flag high in different tournaments.
“I have attended four last Mashujaa days and received nothing except just praises which doesn’t help me in any way,” laments Abbas.
According to him, the government attitude of always waiting until someone passes away then contributing millions for their sendoff is in bad taste.
“I told the President as they contributed Sh5 million towards Kadenge burial to at least distribute that money while we are alive,” added Abbas.
Abbas anticipated that they could at least be honoured since the celebrations were being held in their Mombasa backyard – something that did not happen.
Rishad Shedu, another legend whom despite the glory years while representing the country as player and later coach, now walks on ‘crutches’ as a result of broken leg during his playing time.
“I still recall my first national team game against Malawi in Blantyre and many good memories but they are of no importance to me at the moment – l suffered a broken leg without any help from the nation… the same nation l offered my all,” said Shedu.
As the government helps the elderly all over the country, Shedu has appealed that they should give former players a medical cover to aid them in medication as they did not receive huge salaries and allowances during their playing days.
“At least a medical fund will be a good idea for the legends from the government to help us,” added Shedu.
It shouldn’t become a norm that our sporting heroes are only recognized during illness or death.