Oktay: Kenyan footballers could suffer mental breakdown
Former Gor Mahia coach Hassan Oktay has expressed fear that Kenyan Premier League players could suffer mental breakdown as a result of their struggles this season.
The Turkish coach has urged local football administrators to capitalize on the crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic to draw up a strategic plan to salvage the sport.
Football activities remain suspended in the country since Kenya registered its first confirmed case of coronavirus pandemic on March 13.
Further, Saturday’s announcement by President Uhuru Kenyatta to extend the lockdown in Nairobi and Mombasa, alongside a nationwide dusk to dawn curfew for a month implies this scenario will remain until July 7.
Besides, Kenyan football is arguably at its worst possible financial shape in the past decade, with top clubs namely Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards failing to pay its staff for six months. This scenario led the government to categorize footballers and coaches among the most vulnerable persons in the country and hand them a Sh10,000 monthly stipend.
At the same time, the Kenyan Premier League, which is the country’s top football competition, recently confirmed it was cash strapped, and not in a position to present a trophy or prize money to the winning teams for the past two seasons.
“I am also owed money by Gor Mahia, about Sh750,000. But the (club) chairman and CEO (Lordvick Aduda) are good people and I respect them. They have done well so far. The biggest problem with Kenyan football is too much politics,” Oktay said.
“But it (politics) doesn’t help develop football. Things don’t look good because the players have really suffered and some of them might have a mental breakdown,” he added.
Oktay also said Kenyan football has so much potential and that needs to be transformed
“I saw a good country, nice people, a good economy with fantastic talent. When I was at Gor Mahia we played on the continent and beat big clubs from Angola, Egypt and Algeria. The national team beat Ghana to qualify for the (2019) Africa Cup of Nations. The administrators now need to plan for the future of Kenyan football. It has to happen now that we are not playing football,” he said.
The 46-year-old Oktay managed K’Ogalo throughout the 2019/2020 football season. He helped the club win the Kenyan Premier League title, and also achieve a quarter-final berth in the Caf Confederation Cup.