‘Football is business’ – Why Kalekwa spent billions to sustain Sofapaka

Sofapaka President Elly Kalekwa with Lawrence Juma.
Sofapaka.
The Congolese mogul reveals how his passion for football has driven him to pump in billions to manage the 2009 champions

Sofapaka president Elly Kalekwa has come out to explain why he has continued to pump in money to sustain the club in the FKF Premier League.

Batoto ba Mungu earned promotion to the top-flight in 2009, a season they went on to win their first league title, and since then they have never been relegated from the top tier.

In 2016 Sofapaka survived relegation after they finished 14th on the table and this was after their title sponsors Blue Triangle pulled out support, but this did not stop Kalekwa from financing the team to keep them afloat.

The Congolese businessman has now explained the reason he has kept supporting the team financially insisting his passion for football has pushed him to spend a fortune on the team.

“I can’t really tell the exact amount of money I have spent on the team, but what I know is it runs into billions of shillings,” Kalekwa said as quoted by Standard Sports.

“And if you have a good product you can recoup that money, but you must be passionate about football for you to heavily invest into it.

“Just like you have found me today talking to the players after coming from work explains how much I love this team. I used to even train with them before I suffered a life-threatening injury. Club chairman is not just a title; we are the servants of these players.

“Football is a business but it is also something that brings people together and that’s why I’m not in a rush to make money; money comes later. Money is not everything, but sponsors are the most important thing because without them you can’t do anything.

“Football business is like farming; you can’t harvest where you have not planted. That means, first you must have a brand and make it strong before starting to sell players like what we did with Burundian striker Abdul Fiston Razak.

“We bought Fiston for Sh4 million but sold him for Sh20 million to South Africa after six months, that means we did a good business just after six months.

“Once we realise football is a business, then it will drive you to make money, and this can only work well with business-oriented players who know their valuation well. Just look at how Mariga [McDonald], Wanyama [Victor], Olunga [Michael], and other foreign-based players have made a living out of it.”

Sofapaka became the first team in Kenya to make huge money from selling a player after they allowed Razak to sign for Mamelodi Sundowns for Ksh20m in 2015, and Kalekwa says he is more than determined to keep doing business hence the reason they have partnered with an England-based international player transfer company to handle their transfer activities.

"You can make mistakes when signing players as per the coach’s demands but sometimes you can make one good signing and you recoup from his transfer fees,” Kalekwa continued.

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“At the moment, we have signed a partnership deal with an international transfer company that will be dealing with all our transfer businesses. Right now, I can’t sign a player without their consent. It’s based in England and we are their [Sofapaka] representatives in East and Central Africa.

“There is no player they can bring on board from this region without our knowledge. Sofapaka is now more of a business entity than a football club and that’s why I have partnered with this company which handles more than 32 percent of Manchester United players.”

Sofapaka are currently eighth on the 18-team table with 10 points from eight matches after they managed to beat Nairobi City Stars 1-0 on Saturday.

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