Arsenal Team Power: Kenyan football fans take passion to new level

More often than not, you will find random fans of different teams meeting in their chosen establishment to watch their favourite team’s football match or other sports games. A few friends may even agree to meet at a joint to watch a match, making the experience more enjoyable. Rarely, however, will you find a well-organised group supporting a particular team, complete with a constitution to guide their activities.

This past weekend, the English Premier League concluded with Manchester City and Arsenal battling for the title. I heard about an Arsenal fan group watching the season’s final game at a joint in Thika. Being an Arsenal fan, I decided to tag along, hoping for a miracle.

It felt like the Emirates Stadium itself, with numerous Arsenal fans clad in team jerseys, some in retro kits from the early 2000s, bringing back memories of the legendary Arsenal sides that once dominated the field.

The fan group, dubbed Team Power Arsenal Movement, has ambitious goals of becoming the largest fan group in Africa, uniting Arsenal fans of all genders under one umbrella.

“I felt there was a need for football fanatics to support their team in a special way,” said Javan Bwire, chairman of Team Power Arsenal Movement. “We introduced the hype factor, branding, and strategic marketing. These strategies have helped us reach across the market.”

Bwire is a very active chairman and also serves as the match day hype man. On this day, he sported boxing gloves, as if ready to challenge the new undisputed heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.

Minutes before the match, Bwire and his organizing secretary, James Ayieko, took the stage to rally the crowd. They led the fans in singing the Arsenal anthem, “North London Forever,” just like at the Emirates Stadium, and the crowd enthusiastically joined in.

“We named ourselves Team Power because of the energy our members have. Our videos showcase this energy,” explains Ayieko.

The movement is also known for attending church services in Arsenal jerseys and presenting offertory. I asked if they would continue this practice even if Arsenal didn’t win the title.

“We will still go to church because it is those prayers that have gotten Arsenal where it is. Our squad is young, and we will dominate for the next ten years,” Ayieko responds.

Beyond football, Team Power engages in noble activities like visiting children’s homes and digging boreholes. “In the next two months, we’ll dig a borehole in Ukambani. We are more than just a fan group,” Ayieko adds.

The women in the group are as passionate as the men and are not shy about expressing their love for the game. “Any lady out there who thinks sports is for men should know that sports is also for women. It’s entertaining, and we love the game,” a female fan asserts.

The idea of fans forming dedicated groups based on their passion for a particular team is something to be embraced. My experience with Team Power Arsenal Movement felt like being in a stadium, complete with the exhilaration of celebrating a goal. To truly understand the fervor and unity of this group, one must experience it firsthand.

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