Media Mogul Sam Ocholla Tipped to Transform Gor Mahia

  • File image of Gor Mahia Secretary General Sam Ocholla
    File image of Gor Mahia Secretary General Sam Ocholla
  • Other than Secretary General Sam Ochola, only Gor Mahia Chairman Ambrose Rachier, who has served for 12 years, was elected unopposed when the club held its hotly contested elections on August 8.

    Now responsible for the day-to-day running of what is considered one of the biggest clubs in the region, and indeed, on the continent, Ochola faces a Herculean task ahead of him.

    Ochola has spent his professional career in the world of media and advertising, and is the owner of Kisumu-based Dala FM and Lolwe TV.

    Amid financial challenges and subsequent exits of big name players, fans are counting on Ochola and Rachier to make big changes. A widespread feeling is that the 18-time League winners have failed to create a sustainable model despite having a massive following, and one of the most recognizable brand names.

    A campaign poster for Gor Mahia Secretary General Sam Ocholla
    A campaign poster for Gor Mahia Secretary General Sam Ocholla
    Daily Nation

    Ochola, who has a Bachelor of Commerce degree worked as an Agency Relationship Account Manager for Kiss FM, and later as an Agency sales representative for Royal Media Services and Capital FM before venturing out on his own.

    Armed with knowledge of the ins and outs of media, he started Dala FM in 2009, a Luo language radio station in the heart of Kisumu.

    In 2014, he ventured into television with Lolwe TV, a Luo language channel with national reach and a wide digital presence.

    His election at Gor Mahia, however, came as no surprise due to Ochola's long-time involvement with youth football in Kisumu and Gor Mahia. He promised to use his marketing and management skills to attract sponsors back to the club.

    In 2017, Gor Mahia announced a deal with Dala FM to sponsor its youth team. The deal saw Gor Mahia Youth players earn regular monthly pay for the first time, having only enjoyed irregular stipends before.

    Youth team matches were also broadcast on Lolwe TV and Dala FM and stadium expenses catered for to improve their playing conditions.

    Multiple reports indicate that Ochola was one of the key financiers at the club, staying on after the main sponsor, sports betting firm Sportpesa pulled out of the Kenyan market in 2019.

    The task ahead of him will, however, be unlike anything he faced in the media. To achieve its potential, Gor Mahia needs to achieve overdue promises of building a stadium, securing meaningful sponsorships, creating an organized membership structure and collecting regular fees and improving its brand to be among the world's best.

    More immediately, it needs to stop losing it's best players to other leading continental clubs. It baffles many pundits how a club of Gor Mahia's stature continues to hit the headlines over non-payment of salaries and allowances.

    Sad stories of players being locked out of their houses for non-payment of rent have shown just how dire the situation is. While the problem runs deeper and is a pointer to the overall state of Kenyan football and the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Premier League, fans hope that Ochola will at least make a difference at K'Ogalo.

    Gor Mahia Secretary General Sam Ocholla at a past press conference
    Gor Mahia Secretary General Sam Ocholla at a past press conference
    Daily Nation