Monday, August 19, 2002 

Soccer Desert: How 
Football Died in Kisumu

Kisumu-based former players blame the decline in footballing standards in the region on the 'systematic killing of tribe-based teams by institutional clubs.' Special Correspondent ROBERT OTANI reports
Once a centre of Kenyan soccer, Kisumu is now a veritable desert - hot, dry and unproductive. The lakeside town is the home of Kisumu Hotstars, the 1970s and 1980s giant-killers who upset many fancied teams while taking part in the National Super League (now Premier League).

Hotstars today is no longer the team that produced some of the best soccer players in the country.

Last season, it finished among the last five in the Nationwide League and was thus relegated to playing in the Kisumu district league.

Hotstars last participated in the Premier League in 1990. The team performed so dismally that it was relegated to Kenya's version of Division I (now Nationwide League).

Next season, alongside local arch-rivals Kisumu All Stars, it will take part in the district league.

The only club still playing in the big league soccer from the larger Kisumu district is Chemelil, sponsored by the Chemilil Sugar Company.

And yet, until the 1980s, Kisumu district was a soccer "superpower" in Kenya. It was the catchment area for big guns such as Gor Mahia and Luo Union (now Reunion). Players recruited by the clubs invariably made it to the national team, the Harambee Stars.

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Courtesy of The East African