Amos Abuga @PeopleSports11
When the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) kicks off in August after the Confederation of African Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament in Egypt, Kisumu AllStars will be representing the hotbed of the country’s football .
This will be a major achievement for a club that barely one year ago, threatened to fold following cash constraints that bedevilled it at infancy.
Four months after inception following the collapse of Palos and subsequent withdrawal from the National Super League (NSL) things seemed bad for the new club that its founders contemplated having it withdrawn from the league and even killing it altogether.
At one point, the club, which recruited many players from the collapsed Palos, faced Nairobi City Stars away with a paltry eight players, something that forced Football Kenya Federation (FKF) to invoke a Fifa rule on the number of players to complete a squad.
Kisumu AllStars signed 10 players from the defunct Palos and over time, emboldened to provide a hungry, motivated and well-inspired players who join the league of Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards, Tusker and Bandari.
They would defy all odds to hobble along to the promotion as they survived and operated on donations from well-wishers and other benefactors.
Proud club CEO Nicholas Ochieng talks of the drive and desire of players in the team revived not so long ago after about two decades of dormancy, and for turning the fortunes around.
“Teamwork, self-motivation and desire to play in the top-flight league are some of the motivating factors that pushed the team throughout the season,” Ochieng says.
“We had a few problems last year. The struggle was when the team was taken over by the old Kisumu County government, the budget was not allocated and like many national government and country government financial operations, we have to persevere for a while.
“However, after we made a successful case to the current county government, the players were absorbed and were put on salary and a good system was designed.
“However, the truth is that we struggled due to some logistical issues that bordered on the budget and nothing of our making,” Ochieng told People Sport.
The early challenges notwithstanding, the made it on a shoestring budget, so lean as compared to competitors in the NSL.
The challenges did not deter the team from securing promotion to the SPL, amassing 80 points one less of eventual winners Wazito.
The team is easily identified with the lowest wage bill to have secured promotion to the KPL. In comparison with better-funded sides like Nairobi Stima, Ushuru and Bidco United who finished third, fourth and fifth respectively after failing to hit the automatic qualification spot.