Since taking over as Secretary General for the Council for East and Central African Football Associations (Cecafa) in 2001, Nicholas Musonye has seen a lot of football changes in the region.
In an exclusive interview with Times Sport’s ARTHUR EMINU ORYADA, he also praised Rwanda for being able to host the forth coming CAF U-20 youth Championships.
When did you come into office and what are you proud of achieving?
I came in as Secretary General of Cecafa in 2001. I am happy to say that we now have US$100,000 in the bank account compared to US$35 I found in office. We have managed to get many sponsors, improve our referees, also made events more competitive and attracted big sponsorship.
Rwanda will be hosting the CAF U-20 youth championship this month. What does this mean to Cecafa?
We are very proud of Rwanda being able to host this big tournament. It’s a pride for us Cecafa because for Rwanda to host a tournament of such magnitude, it improves the profile of Rwanda in particular and Cecafa as the regional body. We are also happy that Rwanda has invited all FA Presidents from the region to grace this youth tournament.
What do you think of Rwanda’s chances and other Cecafa members of hosting CAF tournaments?
I think Rwanda has the chance of hosting bigger CAF events because they have the facilities like hotels, training pitches, good roads and transport system, although they have to improve on some of their other pitches.
How well Rwanda organizes this year’s U-20 championship could also be good launching pad for their chances to organize other events. But I think Tanzania, Kenya and Sudan also have facilities and can host CAF events.
As a regional body that Rwanda is affiliated to, what will be Cecafa’s role during the CAF U-20 championship in Kigali?
Since this is a CAF event, Cecafa will have no role to play in this event. Even CAF cannot be called in to play a role in Fifa events like the World Cup. But I will personally be there to see how things will be moving.
Several players around the region have headed to Rwanda to play semi-professional football there and others even changed their names. What is your comment?
If players go from country to country and the contracts are good, it’s a free world. And if players decide to change their names, it’s a morale responsibility that Cecafa has nothing to do with.
But I think many players in the region go to play in the Rwanda league because of it’s good level of organization and the attractive contracts.
How do you judge the administrative strength of Cecafa today?
Compared to the past, we have administratively improved with a well furnished office, always communicate with member countries in the region, phone and e-mails are all active and we have fully paid staff.
What do you think is the problem with countries in the Cecafa region failing to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations Cup/ the World Cup, and their teams doing poorly in the CAF Champions League and CAF Cup?
Although Cecafa does provide plat-form for nations and clubs in the region to improve their football, I think emphasis must be put on better preparations.
But we have managed to send two teams (Rwanda, Kenya) to the last two Nations Cup finals and clubs from Sudan have also continued to do well on continental level.
What do you say about complaints that all workers at the Cecafa secretariat in Nairobi are Kenyans?
According to the Cecafa Statute, all staff at the secretariat must come from the country that houses the headquarters, and this happens to be Kenya . People should stop concentrating on small things and focus on issues that will develop football in the region.
Many football loving people in the region have complained about the poor timing of Cecafa events on the calendar. What is your comment?
As Cecafa we have to respective leagues in the respective member countries, and also work in line with the Fifa and CAF calendar.
Our statute also points out that we must give priority to CAF events, thus leaving us with limited periods to fix our events.
Sponsorship has been one of the biggest problems for Cecafa. What are you doing to try and attract new sponsors?
We are trying to market Cecafa in the best possible way and our levels of communication and image building has also been improved so that many sponsors can be attracted.
We managed to get GTV to sponsor the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup because they were happy with our image which we have improved over time. We are also trying to improve our website to become so attractive to sponsors.
You have been Cecafa Secretary General for along time now, do you hope to step down soon, or also try spreading your wings and manage Kenyan football back home?
In the next two years I will certainly be out of Cecafa. If the people in Kenya want me to manage football there, I will be ready to serve because I believe I have good administrative skills and am so passionate about football.