Johnathan McKinstry reveals 'special' Gor Mahia attribute he will forever hold dear to his heart

Johnathan McKinstry reveals 'special' Gor Mahia attribute he will forever hold dear to his heart

Mark Kinyanjui 14:53 - 21.05.2024

McKinstry is set to take over as the Gambia national team boss after guiding Gor Mahia to back-to-back league titles with the side he has described as one of the biggest in Africa.

Outgoing Gor Mahia head coach Johnathan McKinstry has revealed the ‘special’ thing about the club he will forever hold dear to his heart.

McKinstry led the side to two consecutive league titles since joining the club after leaving the Uganda national team job, and is now set to take the reigns at the Gambia, as side that will face Harambee Stars in 2025 in the race for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

McKinstry leaves the club having restored their lost reputation after going three years without lifting a league title, and also developed players individually, most notably, Benson Omala, Austin Odhiambo and now, Zambia-based defender Dennis Ng’ang’a.

Reflecting on his time at the club, McKinstry highlighted what makes Gor Mahia unique in the landscape of African football.

“It has been a huge honour. Gor Mahia is one of the biggest clubs in Africa. One of the most historic ones,” McKinstry stated in an interview with the club’s media channels.

 He emphasised the club’s deep-rooted connection to its community in Western Kenya, contrasting it with the more modern, corporate clubs that lack such historical and communal ties.

“What attracted me to K’Ogalo was the roots of the club are grown deep into the community here in Western Kenya. It is something families are born into. That is something that really appealed to me coming into the club two years ago and is something I have really felt,” McKinstry explained. 

He noted that the community’s emotional investment in the team means that the club’s fortunes directly impact their supporters’ lives, making every win and loss a deeply personal experience.

“When the team loses, it is like something has affected their family. The depth of the feeling and connection between the community and Gor Mahia is really intense,” he observed. 

McKinstry also shared how this connection creates a pressure-cooker environment that pushes both the players and the coaching staff to excel.

“When we are under pressure, we have to raise our game as individuals and a group. It is something we have had to teach the players to welcome because if you want to be the best version of yourselves, fair weather does not make a great sailor. Great sailors are made in the middle of the storm,” McKinstry remarked. 

He instilled a philosophy in the team that embraces challenges and pressure as opportunities for growth and improvement.

“Don’t be afraid of the storm, don’t be afraid of the pressure around you. Welcome it knowing it is going to make you better, it is going to make you improve.”

As McKinstry departs for his new role in the Gambia, his tenure at Gor Mahia will be remembered not only for the titles won but also for the deep community connections he fostered and the resilience he instilled in his players.

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