The history of football in Kenya
Football has been a meaningful and impactful sport for Kenyan society since it was introduced by British settlers in the early 20th century. Although Kenya would not be described as a “football crazy” country, it is still the most popular sport throughout the country.
People are greatly passionate about their national football team, the so-called Harambee Stars, or other local or international teams. The popularity of the game stems from its simplicity and ability to inspire people across all ethnicities and class lines.
Early successes – How it all started
After being introduced to football, the Kenyan national football team played their first international match against Uganda on May 1st 1926 in the Gossage Cup. Shortly after in 1927, the CECAFA, Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations, was unofficially founded. Kenya continued to win 12 Gossage Cup titles until the Gossage Cup turned into the Challenge Cup in 1967.
The 1960s in general marked an important decade for Kenyan football, starting with the formation of the Football Kenya Federation to govern football in 1960. The following years were the years where many of today’s clubs were born and the Kenyan Premier League got founded.
With the official foundation of the CECAFA in 1973, the Gossage Cup/Challenge Cup now turned into the CECAFA Cup, which is, until today, held almost every year. Kenya has an impressive record of 21 titles of the Gossage/Challenge/CECAFA Cup.
Women’s football in Kenya
With football being so wide-spread and popular, it came naturally, that the first women’s football league was created in 1985/1986. After the Kenya Women’s Football Association was established in the early 90s, the nationwide Kenyan Women’s Premier League was established. The Women’s national football team began participating in several international tournaments and matches, e.g. the 2016 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations and the 2019 CECAFA Women Championship, where they even won the title.
Development for women’s football is still continuing at full speed with capacity building, branding and marketing, leading Kenyan women’s football into a new era.
Seeing all of these developments, it’s safe to say that football has had a huge influence on people’s lives in Kenya and is able to connect people. The importance and impact of football in Kenya will remain strong, if not even increase.
Abasha’s partner The Girls Future also recognizes the importance and potential that football has on developing values like team-spirit, equality and confidence. Therefore, they are planning on holding football matches for girls and boys alike. With your donation, you can support The Girls Future with this.