No to Rio 2016 ? Zika Virus, Boycotts, Controversies and all that appertains to the Olympic Games

This year is surely not disappointing with its drama-filled headlines and issues around sport. The biggest one at the moment is the Zika Virus which is seen as Brazil’s latest hurdle in hosting the largest multi-sports bonanza.

Rio 2016 

While Brazilian authorities have been battling with polluted waters along the Rio shoreline ( as well as diminishing commodity prices, the Zika virus has shaken the very essence of the Games threatening it with boycotts or no-shows by major sporting nations.

Many have even brewed conspiracies such as;
Whatever the case, the impact of the pandemic will surely be felt at the Summer Olympics to be held in Rio in just under 6 months. Even Kenyan sports administrators have mixed feelings of attending the Games with some calling for tighter safeguards or else, while others insist on participating in the spirit of the Games.
Never before have the Olympic Games looked at risk of missing the largest gathering of nations since 1984. Speaking of missing the Games, we shall take a cursory look at some of the Games which either didn’t take place or were mired in controversy, leading to boycotts or low attendance.
1916 Berlin Games logo – courtesy
1916: The VI Olympiad at the Berlin Games in Germany – with the world tottering towards an arms race thanks in part to the German empire and emerging disquiet in parts of Europe, the Games were not held. This is to avoid endorsement of the German Reich as the Games had suddenly become important social and political platforms. 
1940 and 1944 XII and XIII Olympiad in Tokyo-Japan (then Helsinki-Finland) – by now the dalliance of the Games with political and warring regimes seemed to be buttressed. While Japan had won the rights to host the Games, it got into war with its larger (and by then less developed neighbour) China in the 2nd Sino-Japanese War. The IOC hastily awarded the Games to Helsinki, Finland only for the cold weather to rule the Games completely off. Given the 1940 Games debacle, the World War II meant that no Games were held in 1944, though the Summer Games had been awarded to the Britain’s London. 
Kenyan Olympic team 1956 – image courtesy of Kenya Archives
1956 XVI Olympiad in Melbourne, Australia ( and Stockholm, Sweden) – these Games had two hosts thanks to the quarantine of livestock and animals meaning the equestrian events – horse jumping were held in Stockholm. The rest of the world or what remained after the boycott of the Chinese Republic, England, Iraq, Lebanon, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland to make a statement of their political positions. See it’s a joke when the virus is on the loose…. 
Kenya participated in its first Olympic Games though still as a British colony. This was one year after the establishment of the National Olympic Committee Kenya (NOCK). This would be the only Games that Kenya never won a single medal too (thus far, yaiks…)
1976 XXI Olympiad in Montreal, Canada – Tanzania managed to rally 22 other African states to boycott the Games ( including our very own Kenyan state). This was due to New Zealand’s rugby team the All Blacks tour of South Africa , which was still suspended from the Games due to its apartheid system of governance. This meant the world was denied the exploits of one Henry Rono among other top athletes and sports personalities of that time. 
1976 Montreal memento – courtesy of www.olympics.com
The Games also were occasioned by one of the largest debts ever to hit  host city which was finally repaid 30 years later in 2006. They also had one weird mascot – don’t know whether it was a beaver but it surely doesn’t inspire much confidence.
1980 XXII Olympiad in Moscow, (then USSR) – The height of boycotts had reached its zenith and the US led about 62 nations into boycotting the Games in the Russian city. This was to protest the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan. Although some were in solidarity with the boycott, others were undergoing economic hardships thanks to unstable fuel prices and commodity prices of the late 1970s. The UK was part of the boycott though it sent its athletes under a neutral flag. 
Some of the countries that boycotted the Games ended up participating at the Liberty Bell Classic or Olympic Boycott Games – mainly the athletics disciplines. Kenya participated in these and won two gold medals in the 400m ( Billy Konchellah) and 5000m (Kip Rono) as well as silver in the 4 X 400m Men’s Relay.
Julius Korir – courtesy of sporting-page.net
1984 XXIII Olympiad in Los Angeles, USA – To return the favour for the 1980 Games, the USSR and its 14 ‘satellite states’ including Angola, Cuba, East Germany, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe to name but a few decided to boycott. Though the boycott did not achieve much it also led to a similar parallel Games in the form of Friendship Games – sponsored by one exuberant media magnate in the form of Ted Turner. Kenya only participated in the Los Angeles Games after coming off an attempted coup in 1982 and a bruising election in 1983. The team’s performance was dismal with only one gold medal in Julius Korir’s 3000m steeplechase triumph.
1988 XXXIV Olympiad in Seoul, South Korea – The tumultuous 80s would mark the last of the Games boycotts but surely not without controversies. North Korea boycotted for not being considered as part-host of the Games. Albania, Cuba, Ethiopia. Madagascar, Nicaragua and Seychelles all boycotted for various reasons. The Games would also be the last that East Germany participated as a single state as it would merge with the West Germany to form the Federal Democratic state of Germany. USSR would also participate for the last time as a union of soviet states as it broke in 1989 after the collapse of the union under Pres. Mikhail Gorbachev.
Kenya had one of its best outings winning five gold medals including Africa’s first ever gold medal in boxing – with the late Robert Wangila Napunyi winning in the welterweight while Chris Sande won bronze in the middleweight. The athletics field had 4 gold including Paul Ereng (800m), Peter Rono (1500m), Julius Kariuki (3000m steeplechase) and John Ngugi (5000m).
The Games were also marked by the biggest scandal in doping with the positive testing of Ben Johnson who had won the 100m in record time then of 9:79 secs ahead of everyone else. He would be banned for life from the Games. 
The Games also marked the first time an openly gay athlete was forced to disclose his HIV-positive status in rather odd and almost tragic circumstances. Read more on Greg Louganis’s diving exploits at the Olympics

These but a few  are some of the many controversies that have dogged the Games. We do hope that this time round there will be no boycotts and the concerns of health and general environmental state of the city of Rio are addressed in time before the Games. Who would want to ruin what would surely be one Samba party to remember? 

For quick Qs and As on the Zika Virus check out this link by WHO.  

Sports Betting Landscape in Kenya

By SK and PanoramicDon

{This blog post is done as a collabo of two bloggers, SportsKenya and
Panoramicdon and shall appear in the respective blogs. It has been a work in
progress and not in any way a duplication of previous or current posts in other
blogs. Where possible we have attributed the posts that stood out on the same.
We welcome your views and experiences in this and seek your indulgence for the
next few minutes…Enjoy!}


Image courtesy of sports_betting

1.       Intro, Overview, Legal Framework

Sport betting is a phenomenon
that is quickly gripping Kenya. A university student, matatu tout, young professional, boda boda guy, retiree and watchman are all united in anxiety and
joy or sorrow depending on the outcome of a sporting event for which they
placed a bet on. Some might wonder why it took so long but the multi-billion
dollar sport betting industry is now firmly established in Kenya and steadily
growing.
Unlike a number of African countries,
Kenya has been quite liberal with gambling from independence. The Betting,
Lotteries and Gaming Act was enacted in 1966 and has been the legal framework
governing the industry since then. The Constitution of Kenya (2010) partly
devolved the function of ‘betting, casino and other forms of gambling.’ Both
levels of government were given this mandate but there has been no subsequent
legislation from both houses of Parliament to determine which specific function
will be performed by which level of government.
The Betting Control and Licensing
Board (BCLB) was established by an Act of Parliament Chap 131 Laws of Kenya in
1966. Prior to the Act, the functions of the board were handled by the Kenya
Police Department. The BCLB has been licensing
and regulating betting, casinos and other forms of gambling.  The BCLB Act provides for the control and
licensing of betting and gaming premises such as casinos and any other forms of
gambling. It also provides for the authorization of lotteries and prize
competition as well as eradication of illegal gambling. Through these
mechanisms, the Kenyan government has managed to protect and safeguard the
public and third parties from unscrupulous betting operators while also
providing certain mandatory requirements relating to licensing, ticketing, and
submissions of returns, bookmaking and totalizing. Several betting
organisations have also been established.
For a number of years though the
gaming and betting industry had seen its growth falter but has turned around in
the last 5 years making it viable  for
employment and revenue generation with renewed dynamic advertising and
stringent State supervision. The Kenyan government continues to play a key role
in the legal administration and regulation/controlling of betting activities in
Kenyan sports.
With the new constitution enacted
in 2010 and 2013 elections which led to the establishment of devolved units of
governance, Governors naturally wanted the application of the devolved function
so as to tap on this potentially lucrative revenue source. There has however been
a conflict of opinion between the Council of Governors and the Betting Control
Board over licensing and regulation of gambling in specific jurisdictions. The
Board argues that there is some security element to gambling hence the reason
why BCLB is domiciled under the Ministry of Interior. The gambling industry has
been known to attract organized criminal groups due to the massive profits of
the industry.
The disagreement between the two
levels of government necessitated the Transition Authority to form an
Inter-Agency Committee as mandated by law to try and find a way out of the
impasse. In the interim, the national government continues license and regulate
lottery and gambling activities in the country through the BCLB. County
governments were given a ‘supervisory role’ and allowed to license business
premises for national lotteries. Counties were also given temporary mandate to
issue pool table permits in their jurisdictions. An inter-agency technical
committee was formed in August 2015 to help resolve this issue and in the
interim the national government will continue in its role to license and
regulate casinos and other forms of gambling with the counties having only a
supervisory role.
Sports Act

Another Law is the Sports Act No.
25 of 2013 It states as follows in Part III -11 of the Act on the Establishment
of the National Sports Fund,“Into the Fund all the proceeds of any sports lottery, investments and
any other payments required by this Act to be paid into the Fund
”It has also mentioned as one of
the functions of the Board of Trustees, part III-17
(d) “Raise funds through sports lotteries, investments and any other means
and disburse the funds for the development of sports and recreation
”(f) “In relation to the national sports lottery, ensure that any lottery
carried out for the purposes of the Fund complies with the relevant law
”As well as the advisory role of
the Trustees to the Cabinet Secretary as noted below;(g) “Advise the Cabinet Secretary on the establishment and implementation of
a social responsibility programme in respect of the national sports lottery and
any other matter relating to the national sports lottery which the Cabinet
Secretary may require advice

These clauses in the Sports Act
of 2013 give credence to the potent of sports betting and ingrains this to the
National Sport Fund hoping to generate a benevolence of sorts to the country’s
first sports kitty. If fully operationalized, it would help ease the taxpayer’s
burden of funding sports teams during national duty, invest in some sports
causes and hopefully set up some basic sports infrastructure where possible.
Who wins what, where and when – image courtesy of www.sportspick.info

2.       Popularity of Sports Betting in Kenya
Sport betting has not always been
this popular in Kenya. Aside from horse racing at Ngong’ racecourse, you had to
go to some betting house at Odeon to place a wager on sport events until
recently. The most popular lottery then was the Kenya Charity Sweepstakes
with its out-and-out and extensive network of agents across the country. However
this monopoly was diminished with the growth of the mobile telephony and use of
mobile money payments, which eased the placing and payment of bets.
The popularity of the English
Premier League, a growing middle class with disposable income and a favorable
legal framework meant the necessary conditions were in place for the growth of
sports betting in the country. In about a decade, mobile phones got to every
corner of the country with it – mobile money and easier access to the Internet.
Betting firms now have the means to reach all corners of the country.
What was once a potentially
lucrative industry with limited reach, can now be accessed by any Kenyan with a
mobile device. Everyone now wants a piece of the pie. Sport betting companies
have been quickly setting up in the country under a blitz of publicity. They
have done their homework and know that of the ‘exposure effect’ where people
are more likely to gamble if exposed to some form of gambling. 


3 .       Brief Review of the top 4 Betting Companies
in Kenya
Having seen the sports betting
space grow by leaps and bounds in the last 3 years, we shall profile the main
players in this space.

a) SportPesa -This is the current undisputed ‘king’ of sports betting in Kenya,
appropriately named SportPesa (maybe to
ride the mPesa wave…???..
.), has over 1,000,000 registered users, with over
half those users being active monthly users. The holding company is the Pevan East
Africa Limited, having launched in Kenya in 2013. This platform has managed to demystify
sports betting by taking advantage of mobile phone payments among a range of
channels to reach the widest and most remote audiences in the country. The
company has leveraged its position by making major sponsorships of the Kenya
footballing league (Kenya
Premier League
renaming it to ‘SportPesa Premier League or The SPL’) and the
Super 8 tournament
to its stable. The company’s CEO is one Captain Ronald
Karauri (son of former Kenya Football
Federation honcho Matthew Adams Karauri, fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree…
). 

Besides
sponsoring the local league, it has also exploited the love of Kenyan football
fans of the English Premier League to appeal to all and sundry. It also allows
betting on UEFA Champions League and Europa League too. Predictions on other
European Leagues are also permitted as are basketball, tennis and rugby league
games.
The well-oiled
machine has been able to bring on board all major mobile telcos and media
houses to help it push across a wide discerning public. It also has the major
media houses to count as its partners. The company’s marketing and PR have also
been on a major blitz for some time now with concerts (such as the SportPesa
Festival
) and other forms such as outdoor publicity giving it top-of-mind
presence over other sports betting platforms. It has used some of the well-known
local music artistes such as Wyre to push their brand to the youthful populace.
It runs a news site www.sportpesanews.com
aggregating football news from across major leagues of the world. Its site www.sportpesa.com was ranked among the top
10 most visited websites in Kenya year ending December 2015.
Check their
tweets via Twitter handle @SportPesa

b)  Betway Kenya – operating under Jambo
Marketing Limited, the sports betting platform is more famous across the seas
being a principal sponsor of EPL team West Ham United.  The ‘Betway’
brand is managed globally by Maltese and Guernsey-based Betway Limited. It is
the leading sports betting platform in the UK and is hoping to leverage on the
English connection to reap big in Kenya. It officially launched in Kenya in
July 2015 after issuance of the BCLB license.

Among the other
betting platforms, it would boost of some worthy international appeal having
cut its teeth in the UK and other European markets. It boosts of major
sponsorship deals including the West Ham United, Premier League of Darts (UK)
–one of the biggest sport there, snooker, tennis and horse-racing.
In August 2015,
it courted controversy after it emerged that majority
ownership is held by British and South African nationals
as well as breaching
its license by using mobile phone platforms
, after implying it would be an
online gaming one. This may have led to its cautious approach to the local
scene. It is yet to make as much traction in Kenya but we can only guess it
will be in this for the long haul once it is able to master the mobile phone
and offer a distinguishing feature and service to the other sports betting
platforms.
You can follow their updates on Twitter using
@Betway_KE

c)   Betin Kenya – this
platform is managed by GamCode company incorporated in Kenya and with links to GoldBet
Group, one of the largest betting and gaming operators in Africa and Europe. It
has online operations in Europe and is said to be the largest operator in Italy
with over 1,000 retail shops.  Besides
Kenya, it also operates in in Nigeria under the brand name “Bet9ja” which has
over 3000 shops in the expansive West African country. It also operates in
Uganda as Betin Uganda for sports betting for both online and offline sports
products, having acquired the national lottery license to exclusively operate the
‘Play Lotto’ brand.

Plans are
underway in Kenya to roll out the setting up of retail shops across the
country. This betting platform specializes on online betting but also uses
mobile devices. Its main distinction is the multiplicity of sporting
disciplines to bet on including football, basketball, tennis, hockey, athletics,
horse racing and even dog racing. It also incorporates an online casino and
virtual sports betting (the latter being same as other sports betting
platforms).  
Though not
explicitly stated, it may have links to the Curacao-based Betin.com. For their
tweets, check out the Twitter handle @BetinKenya
d)  BetYetu – is a platform run by Oxygen 8 East
Africa. It also has Standard Group as one of its main partners. However the
site has been having capacity challenges of late, making access difficult when
users decide to log on to place their bets. Their focus is mainly on football,
basketball and tennis. Along with one other sports betting platform, they seek
to address responsible gambling.
You can follow
their tweets at @BetYetu

e)   mCheza – this is the latest entrant into
the Kenyan sports betting act. Represented by one Peter Kirimi, the company
launched with razzmatazz in December 2015. The holding company is Acumen
Communications Limited with the global partner being Greek-based Intralot,
through its sports betting management arm. Among its directors is former media
personality Julie Gichuru.

Given its being
the most recent of the sports betting companies, it has managed to build some
buzz around its brand. It has also enlisted some leading media personalities
and uses their tweets on the mCheza brand to reach Kenyan social media users. It
also sponsored the Sports Personality of the Year Awards –SOYA to the tune of
KES 3 million to show its willingness to play in this space. It has a war-chest
of about KES 1.5 billion to grow its fledging business in Kenya. There are a
number of sports disciplines which one can bet on including; football,
basketball, baseball, American football, boxing, cricket, rugby, motorsport and
golf.
You can follow
their tweets @mCheza
Other leading
sports betting platforms worth mentioning include;
–         
EliteBet
Kenya
;
–         
JustBet;
–         
Lucky2U and
–         
Kenya
Sports Bet
Another blogger, Bankelele had
profiled the sector in a 2-part series of Sports
Betting Coming of Age in Kenya Part 1
and Part
2
for more details on how to play and participate in the respective sports
betting platforms.


4.        Problems of Gambling and Sports Betting
Betting is not universally legal
due to negative effects that it may have on individuals and the society. Top of
the list of problems is addiction where some become compulsive gamblers. Sport
betting is considered a skill-based form of gambling as opposed to a pure game
of chance. Punters place bets with their choices advised by accumulated
knowledge of a sport. While this is true to some extent, the element of luck is
very much present with bets placed on such niche categories like number of
corners and goals scored after a certain minute, among others.
While majority of gamblers will
indulge without getting hooked, a small number will suffer from the worst of
gambling addiction. Problem gamblers become so engulfed in gambling that they
basically cease to exist as socially-functional human beings. Cases of debt,
financial ruin, theft, job losses, ruined relationships and even suicide have
been reported among compulsive gamblers who must indulge regardless of harm
done to self or loved ones. The former Arsenal and Scottish striker John
Hartson was a high profile case of addictive sport gambling and he considered
his fight against gambling bigger than his cancer fight.
The question for Kenya therefore
is how do we identify problem gamblers and what measures will be put in place
to cater to them as sport betting grows exponentially. In other civilizations,
part of the revenue from gambling is used to fund social facilities that offer
help to problem gamblers. Victims of gambling addiction have been known to
recover with treatment.
The threat of the gambling
industry being infiltrated by organized criminal groups is also a problem to
contend with. The American mafia
helped transformed Las Vegas from an unfavorable desert town to the Mecca of
gambling after seeing the lucrative nature of the industry in Batista’s Cuba. The
mafia would bribe law enforcement and
judicial officials and made huge amounts from the industry. For decades, the
mob ran the gambling industry in the famous desert city but were eventually
chased out of town in the 1980’s.
In modern times, organized crime
has continued to reap from sport betting. In wanting to control the outcome of
games and therefore maximize on revenues, criminals have been known to bribe or
coerce players to commit certain actions on the field during play. Match fixing
is a big problem that has affected most professional sports. Interpol has been
going after these shadowy rings that transcend international borders with mixed
results. How Kenya will address such challenges if they manifest themselves in
the years to come will be something to watch out for.

5.       Betting in Africa and rest of the World

Going further afield in Africa,
sports betting is biggest in South Africa where the country’s
multi-disciplinary acts in rugby, cricket, football, and athletics makes it a sports
punt’s playfield. A PwC report on Gambling Outlook released in 2014 shows that
sports betting accounts for about 13% of the gambling revenues. It includes
book-making and pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing and other sports events.
Online wagering for sports is also allowed, being the only form of online
gambling permissible in South Africa. The revenues of sports betting were estimated
to be in the region of 3.9 billion rand last year and projected to grow to 4.05
billion rand in 2016.
Africa’s winning – image courtesy of www.africanleadership.co.uk
The growth of sports betting in
South Africa got a boost from the country hosting major tournaments including
the most recent 2010 FIFA World Cup. The country’s participation too in major
sporting events in cricket and rugby world cups have helped keep sustained
growth over the same period. A mature horse racing segment has also aided
expand sports betting.
In West Africa, Nigeria is the
most attractive market with its expansive economy and the growing middle class.
Sports betting started in earnest in 2007 with the success of the local Nigeria
football league. Due to infrastructural challenges, sports betting is still
largely offline but fast moving too to the mobile platform. This is
supplemented too with the expected growth of online betting as the Nigerian
Communications Commission predicts at least over 50 million of its citizenry
accessing the Internet.
The Nigerian government has also
made the entry fee fairly prohibitive fee of US$ 5,000 for a gambling license.
However the use of mobile telcos has made it a potential sector for growth as
seen by the number of local and international sports betting companies set up
in the last 5 years. These include Stakersden Soccer Jackpot
working in partnership with mobile telco Etisalat, NairaBet and Bet9ja.
Indeed Africa remains an
attractive haven for sports betting and gaming with 3 conferences planned this
year alone on the same, starting with
To name but a few.

6.       Future of Sports Betting

Indeed sports betting is here to
stay in most of the African countries including Kenya. With the sports industry
enjoying a modest growth both at local and continental level as well as the
availability of mobile and online technologies to leverage global best
practices, the trend can only be upwards. There have been fears of alleged
criminal links with online sports betting being used for money laundering in
other parts of the world, thus African countries will be targets too. The same
would go for online fraud as most of the online and mobile platforms are not as
secure as would need be.
There are also fears created by
the blitz of advertising to the adult population which then makes it attractive
to a younger audience. This becomes tricky since there are large number of
people under eighteen are being given access to mobile devices by their
parents, guardians and friends. It would be interesting what the advertising
and marketing regulatory bodies would say to this.
Match-fixing and similar
allegations have been made to many an African sports disciplines, all in the
name of helping game-fixers win a larger purse. These actions would impact
local leagues and games and as such relevant bodies need exercise vigilance to
check against match and game-fixing.
On the positive note, the
expansion of sports betting has offered opportunities for mobile money, virtual
currencies such as bitcoins among tech developers making it attractive for them
to develop sturdy solutions. 
Sports betting has also seen job
creation through the different channels that the sports betting have sought to
spread their products. Beyond the agents and corner shops, one can become an
agent just by the mere ownership of a mobile device. This is also an
opportunity for sports punters and analysts to reap on helping and placing bets
for themselves and their friends, remember Nate Silver?
Sports betting has also given
marketing and ad companies opportunities to appeal to the widest of masses as
they seek to grow this. Kenya is one example where in the space of 3 years,
over 5 sports betting companies have launched and consistently engaged in such
services.
On a broader perspective, the
contributions from sports lotteries to the national sports fund kitties will
help develop sports both a local and national level. It will seek to legalize
and mainstream what would otherwise be illegal activities escaping State
scrutiny. Kenya and South Africa vibrancy in the same represents a way forward
into attracting and growing sports betting. This being another big sporting
year, we can only wait to see what opportunities will come and the next
milestone in sports betting.


Sports Law Pioneer @SnoLegal talks to SportsKenya

Sometime last year, we at SportsKenya were part of a team that engaged in a campaign to get one of the pioneering ladies in Sports Law in Kenya for her studies in Spain. The campaign adopted both online and offline strategies which ran in tandem.

Sarah Ochwada @SnoLegal – Strike a Pose

We have the priviledge of bringing you Sarah Ochwada – also known as SnoLegal ( on Twitter @SnoLegal). She also does this blog here. We caught up with her on her exploits in Spain and this is what she had to say;

Q1) Hola SnoLegal! For the sake of our readers, kindly remind us what course
you are doing, the institution and duration.
 

Hola! I am studying International Sports Law at
ISDE which is the acronym for… Wait for it… Instituto Superior de Derecho y
Economia
…that’s Spanish by the way. Although my course is entirely in
English. I am learning Spanish, though…but I digress…I shall be having theory
lessons until June and then have my internship in Switzerland from July to
December. It is a 1-year intensive course.

Q2) From your interaction thus far with sports experts from the rest of the
world, what would you say their take is of the Kenyan & African sports
scene at large?

Wow! What a question!  Some foreigners
actually know a whole lot about African sports, and I’m not just talking about
my lecturers but my classmates as well. For instance one of the Spanish guys in
my class, Luis ( hello there if you’re reading this) was talking to me about
East African runners and he named them, knew the statistics from Kenya an
Ethiopia dating back years! 
Another one of my classmates from Australia, Tiran
(Oy mate!) knew about the Tikolo brothers from the Kenyan cricket team and just
some crazy statistics about Kenyan cricketers… I mean it’s really impressive
how much people outside Africa know about sports in Africa and the athletes.
I also recall having a conversation with one of my lecturers about Kenyan rugby
and another about the transfer of Kenyan players to European leagues… I guess
there is a lot of interest in sports on our continent because of the
talent on the continent which is exposed to the world stage through
international competitions. And I think this interest will persist in years to
come.

Q3)What is your take on Sports Management in Kenya and
the need for Sports Laws?

In the last year or so that I spent in Kenya before
coming to Madrid there was a positive change in terms of sports people and
federations. Other stakeholders are also making an effort to improve their
sports and consequently livelihoods of those involved. 
Management I think is the largest area that needs to be considered since you not only manage events but
teams and individuals within the sports realm. And there are so many aspects to
management too; finances, public relations, you name it.
What is lacking is
tailor-made management for each discipline, each athlete, each federation. A
blanket system may not work particularly for Kenya because of the numerous and
varying needs of the.different players involved.Understanding each unique set of needs
independently will be of great importance. 
As far as Sports Law is
concerned, the need is even greater. General practitioners of law may not fully
comprehend or appreciate the different facets of sports – from governance to contracts
and any problem that may arise from there. 
We are moving into a time where
talent pays, and sport is no longer a hobby but a livelihood. And with all
livelihoods those in the sports fraternity require experts who will understand
deeply their issues and offer sound advice & guidance to avoid disputes or
mitigate harm down the line.

Q4 a) With the new Sports Bill in place, there are quite a number of
legal hurdles that sports associations and bodies have to go through. Which 3
stick out for you?

Minor correction… Sports Act, not Bill. Once a
Bill is passed by parliament it becomes an Act. (SK:..oops our bad, Ms learned friend…)

  • Registration of Sports entities with the Sports
    Registrar. There surely will be a lot of confusion and misinformation when it
    comes to this point… Wait and see. But in a nutshell, all sports entities
    registered under the Societies Act will have to transition and be registered
    under the office of the Sports Registrar. (SK:…Note that football clubs crying foul about being targeted? )
  • Disputes regarding registration and non registration.
    These will probably be the first few cases to be dealt with by the new Sports
    Tribunal. But I bet even the understanding of how to bring matters to this
    tribunal will be a major issue, not just for federations and sports persons but
    for their legal representatives too.
  • The Sports Fund… How
    will it be run? How will federations receive money from this fund? This will be
    cause for some contention I believe.

But that being said, I look forward to the debates that will rise from
these issues because they will help our sports mature. Bring it on!

Q4 b) Which 3 legal issues do you feel have been
left out of the Sports Bill?

Oh my gosh! Now that I have had the opportunity to
learn about things… One thing which struck me is, so these federations will be
registered afresh, does that mean that they remain as societies or will we have
to give them some sort of new name to distinguish them from other legal
entities.
The other legal issues I have pondered about, I
would rather not reveal at this moment because it is better to see how things
unfold and whether we can find creative legal solutions for them as time goes
by… But trust me, there is so much we can do. Baby steps for now.

Snolegal at EPL club West Ham’s Bolery Ground – Upton Park Londonimage courtesy of SnoLegal

Q5) What has been your biggest eye-opener since you started the sports law
course?
That you can practice Sports Law in any corner of
the world but your practice may influence other lawyers in a completely
different part of the planet. For example, I have a blog devoted to Sports &Entertainment issues in Kenya. I wrote articles based on what I thought would
help Kenyans in these fields improve themselves. Lo and behold, I started getting emails and
messages from Sports Lawyers and professors as far as UK, Argentina, Spain,
Italy, Greece inquiring about a topic I had written or including some of my
articles in their research. I guess I never thought that what I.was doing for
my countrymen would have a great impact on other nations. That’s totally awesome
and incredibly humbling!
Q6) What is your favourite sport and why?

Right now it’s Archery. I started as a means of giving myself a hobby that I can take well into my old age. I have come to find
it very relaxing. And who knows, maybe in 10 years I can represent Kenya as an
Olympic archer! (SK:...make that 2 to 6 years at most, #just saying…)

Q7) After you’re done with the course, what next?
I come back home and continue with my practice, but
of course there are certain specific targets that I hope to meet maybe in the
first 3 years;

  1. Transitioning our national sports federations, such as trying to get their
    constitutions up to date and in line with the Sports Act, Kenyan constitution
    and their (respective) International Federations;
  2. (Host) at least 2 free workshops a year on sports law basics and management
    beginning with national sports federations administrators and then moving on to
    athletes;
  3. Getting either the LSK (Law Society of Kenya) to have Sports Law as part of the continuous
    education for Advocates, or at least incorporate some aspects of Sports law
    into the already existing ones;
  4. Teach. Initially I never wanted to do this but I have received offers from 2 universities in Nairobi to create a curriculum to teach undergraduates Sports
    Law as an elective module; and
  5. Continue with Sports law commentaries, TV, Radio and Newspaper. I did a
    little of this before I left but it will be great to pick it up again.

Muchas gracias and all the best in your studies, estudiante graduado de la hembra 🙂 🙂 🙂 

World Relays gives Kenyan Athletes ‘Golden Shine’

This past weekend marked the inaugural World Relays under the auspices of IAAF hosted in the Caribbean island of Bahamas ( the natives called Bahamians, more like Bohemian Rhapsody…I digress).

World Relays Bahamas 2014 – image courtesy of www.iaaf.org

The 2-day event had some really good action for any sports and athletics enthusiasts. Stealing some of the attention for the more popular football (soccer in other quarters), was a huge gamble but for those few moments the Championships produced some sparkle. The c’ships had 10 events billed as the Golden Baton which included the more common and widely accepted

  • 4 x 100m ( both men and women)
  • 4 x 400m 
But also other races including;
  • 4 x 200m  or 2 lap event
  • 4 x 800m or 8-lap event
  • 4 x 1500m or 15-lap event.
As expected some athletics powerhouses such as the US and Jamaica sent strong teams especially in the short(er) sprints. Kenya too sent very strong teams in what were expected to be its specialties in the middle races. After what might have been a fiasco in national team selection, the team redeemed itself winning 3 out of its targeted 4 Gold medals and each of those in World Record times. There was also special mention of the 4 x 400m Kenyan men’s team which featured in the Final B ending up in the tail end of the proceedings. 
A few lessons too could be taken by the Kenyans from these Games;
a) Preparations – The national selection method employed by Athletics Kenya was not the most scientific and suited for this purpose. This led to an almost disjointed effort in preparing the team for the c’ships. In future, it would not hurt to make proper preparations for national selection and onward camp for participants.
b) Tactics– while we may not have been with the coaches and managers, some of the tactics employed  cost the team valuable points and wins. For example, the 4 x 800m women’s race decision to run a fairly inexperienced Busienei in the first leg saw Kenya lose her position to lead and ultimately play catch up to the US team. 
c) More Country representation – being the inaugural c’ships not every country was able to send representatives and some sent some more junior and inexperienced runners. Beijing in 2015, you can be sure it will not be a walk-over even for Kenya even in the middle races that we seem to have such a stronghold. Ethiopia, Algeria, Morocco and even Uganda will want to prove a point or two. We saw what is happening in the marathons and 10K races in other championships. And it is not just the Africans breathing down the necks of Kenyans, Russia, Romania and other European countries always fancy challenging Kenyan athletes.
Kenya’s 4 x 1500m Women’s team image courtesy of www.iaaf.org
d) Track and Field Clubs – while Kenya has traditionally had no problem in producing talent especially for the middle and long distances, our performances in the shorter races of 400m, 200m and 100m have been dismal. Save for the occasional suprise in the 400m, the others don’t seem to feature in our calendar. 
One way of encouraging this is forming running/sprint clubs that can be situated in 2-3 cities in the country. Rigorous training and exposure will see us in good stead. Investing in the necessary infrastructure such as tartan running tracks, gyms, sports scientists and nutritionists is integral too. The US has Santa Monica Track Club(which produced among others sprint legend Carl Lewis), Jamaica has the MVP Track and Field Club
(with women sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser in its stable). Why can’t Kenya invest in one too?
e) Reward System – though this has been ongoing with the gold medal winners in major games such as Olympics and Commonwealth getting national honours, more can be done to earn our athletes their worth. The mileage enjoyed by their participation and winning is more than the fancy budgets and trips that tourism officials seek to justify for their activities. There has been talk of an Athletics Hall of Fame by Athletics Kenya but this ought to be a public-private partnership by all parties concerned.
For now let’s enjoy the shine of winning 3 Gold medals and records to boot. In 2015, I don’t see why Kenya should not bag 4 Gold medals and Bronze or two in the shorter races. Optimistic perhaps? 

Quick recap:
Kenya won Gold in the 4 x 800m (men), 4 x 1500m (men and women) and Silver in 4 x 800m (women).
In Related News:
When Safaricom Limited announced that it had secured the naming rights of Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi,  its current CEO Bob Collymore intimated that one of the areas of focus would be investing in the shorter races. This was echoing earlier sentiments made in 2012 when he was awarding the Olympic heroes. True to their word, the company sponsored the National Relay series which almost ended in confusion after Athletics Kenya couldn’t agree on a proper formula for the competition. In future, national associations should have proper blueprints for events such as this. Having secured funding and sponsorship such as Safaricom’s makes it easier to consult experts and host more successful events. 
For future Relay events, Athletics Kenya can do better by letting the respective branches come up with teams which can then compete at the series of trials in Nairobi and any other city deemed suitable. This will not only attract new talent but also expose potential athletes to specialisations beyond the individual races they usually do.
As for Safaricom Limited, your investment may start bearing fruit sooner than expected…

Are Community Clubs in Kenya basket cases?

Once again the arguments about football clubs in Kenya in particular the community clubs v/s ‘corporate-sponsored’ clubs are back again (see earlier post here). It’s a bit of concern now especially with the taxman breathing down the neck of all and sundry. It is quite tragic that most of the community clubs enjoy a huge fan-base ( but have not been able to monetise and marshal these numbers to reflect well commercially..)

While some officials of the clubs read mischief and malice, in the end what the taxman wants, s/he gets! It is also very clear that most of the club officials have not put in place proper mechanisms for running a club.
Issues like;

  • annual financial statements;
  • player contracts and players’ welfare; 
  • commercial and business plans ( add the marketing bit in there);
  • communication and PR strategy 

among other important documents. They should not also blame other sources for their ineptitude and incompetency.

While the KPL has been making slow progress on some fronts, it is of fundamental importance that clubs set these issues right to avoid what we’re seeing currently.
It is also important that the KPL officials avoid being held at ransom by club officials who stifle developments such as has been the banned-but-soon-lifted proclamations regarding hooliganism.
Some have blamed the security personnel for not getting it right, but we already have over-stretched these people with current security scares in the country.
Clubs must revamp their mode of operations from societies ( as one official was quoted saying in the Press) to proper commercial and business outfits.

Sports is not charity anymore and KPL ought to spell this out for participating clubs. A benchmark of financial resources should be in place for at least 1 year. This will show that the club is capable of paying its players, management and other technical staff, merchandise and training facilities among others. Penalties should be in place for those who fail to meet the thresh-hold.

Early this season, KPL decided to do an audit of football venues across the country. It is also prudent for them to do the same for financial records of the clubs.Related to this, there is an interesting report done by AfriCog detailing football mismanagement in Kenya. Check the link here.

Back to the community clubs, various countries have tried these models of operation and succeeded so it is not excuse enough for the poor management practices currently witnessed. Clubs such as Kaizer Chiefs (South Africa), Atletico Bilbao , Barcelona (both from Spain), Boca Juniors (Argentina) as well as Borussia Dortmund to name a few.  A few quick tips;

  1. Establish a limited company before selling shares – this can be either to the general public or restricted to a certain number ( say 1 share worth KSh.50,000 etc);
  2. Get a wealthy benefactor and get him/her to manage the club as one of his entities – this is yet to catch on in Kenya but is prominent in Europe moreso England. Any Katumbis, Khozas or Abramovichs in Kenya?
  3. Secure major sponsorship deals with leading companies – this is a tricky one since most companies have what they call a need for ROI thus cannot justify putting money where they might not get value for it;
  4. Secure a large fan-base ( preferably regional or national) and this will be lucrative to both individual or corporate investors ( tragedy is if they are an unruly and emotional lot, they often end up being a curse instead) and finally
  5. Perform, perform and perform! Without good results, any club is as good as dead.
SIDE-NOTE:
In researching for this piece, some interesting links came up such as this one on the top clubs in Africa as done by CAF in December 2012. It’s interesting to note that even though the Democratic Republic of Congo has a troubled economy, their football clubs have performed well in the continent. Here’s a snippet of the rankings- number in brackets represents FIFA Club World rankings;
1. (67) Al-Ahly – Egypt  – estimated revenue of $36.09 million (in 2008)
2. (146) Esperance Sportive – $5.71 million 
3. (147) Zamalek – Egypt – $26.8 million
4. (176) Tout Puissant Mazembe aka TP Mazembe – DRC – $15 ( in 2013)
5. (190) Asante Kotoko – Ghana 
Kenya’s Clubs;
45. Gor Mahia (Pos.604)
79. AFC Leopards (Pos.893)
88. Tusker FC (Pos.954)

Additional info on the post can be found from the following links;
Top 5 African millionaire football club owners
For TP Mazembe…the future looks bright
Worlds Top 5 Fan-owned Soccer teams
CAF Club & World Rankings – 2012
Richest Football Clubs in Africa by Revenues – 2008

Kenyan National Honours, who makes the Sports Category shortlist?

Jamhuri or Independence/Republic Day is usually the last major national day on the Kenyan calendar. This day also serves as  when the list of state commendations or honours are awarded to various Kenyan nationals who have served diligently and exceptionally within the given calendar year or in their lifetime. It is structured in the same vein of civil awards and decorations such as are awarded in the UK ( Kenya’s former colonial master), US et cetera.

Kenya State Commendation Bars
Image courtesy  of http://www.coleccionesmilitares.com/

Immediately after Kenya’s independence, the roll of honour was largely composed of politicians, businessmen, educationists and sadly cronies of the Government of the day. This was perpetuated in by the Moi government in the 1980s and 90s. Then came the Kibaki era which is coming to its sunset days. Again not much change there and though there have been a couple of deserving Kenyans who have been awarded, there are also some ‘suprises’ who show up every now and then. (FYI -In 2012, two of the President’s children or is it First Family’s were among those honoured)
Do you always wonder if you have made the list or at least someone who you know deserves? It was a bit of an embarrassment for the Kenyan state in 2004 when the Nobel Committee honoured Wangari Maathai with its Prize for Peace while back home the best we could do is offer her a Deputy Ministerial post with its lowly honours and priviledges.

All the same we have a list of the honours listed as follows;

  • Order of the Golden Heart – Chief/First Class(only Kenyan Head of State & other exemplary people from other parts of the world are awarded this) denoted as CGH, Elder/Second Class (EGH), Moran/Third Class (MGH)
  • Order of the Burning Spear – Chief (CBS), Moran (MBS) and Elder (EBS)
  • Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya (OGW) 
  • Silver Star (SS)
  • Head of State Commendation ( HSC)
  • Distinguished Service Medal
  • Distinguished Conduct Order

This year there were a couple of sports personalities awarded including;

  • David Lekuta Rudisha (MBS)
  • Sam Nyamweya (MBS)

Last year’s list included among others;

  • Collins Injera (OGW)
  • Humphrey Kayange (OGW)

Other previous honours include Catherine Ndereba (DSM & OGW), Tecla Loroupe (OGW), Ezekiel Kemboi (OGW), Jason Dunford (OGW) and Paul Tergat (MBS) to name but a few.

Pres. Kibaki garlands The Aga Khan with Chief of Golden Heart (CGH) honours – 2007

Now my beef starts with the ‘economy of that list’. It was too short considering there are many sports personalities worthy of recognition whether still active, retired or post-humously. This has been done before. For example, Kenya never honoured her late boxing hero Robert Wangila Napunyi, marathoner Samuel Wanjiru, footballer Jonathan Niva, former tennis star Paul Wekesa et cetera.
Secondly, what criteria do the State operatives use to vet those deserving of these awards? Yeah what great honour did some of those mentioned bring us? For example, football honcho Sam Nyamweya though in charge of Football Kenya Federation currently, our take is that he has not really lived up to expectations. In fact, he could be part of why Kenyan football languishes in mediocrity. Look at how they handled the Henri Michel case. What about Sakata Ball?
Finally we’re reminded that there was supposed to be a Heroes Corner at Uhuru Gardens. What happened to that initiative? Athletics Kenya came up with its own Sports Museum to try and honour those who achieved great deeds in the sport for the country, though it doesn’t quite measure up to standards.

Next year at a time like this,we shall be having a new government and hope that they will improve on the way  we honour our sports people. They have been our greatest and most consistent ambassadors and should treated as such if not better!

Gor Mahia hooligans put blemish on KPL Finale

In what had promised to be a tense and exciting final kick of the Tusker-sponsored KPL, there just had to be some people hell-bent on spoiling the party. Well, the script got flipped on this last day and for some fans it was too much to bear. And true not everyone emerges tops but surely its not an excuse to take it out on perceived rivals or innocent citizenry.

AFC Leopards v/s Gor Mahia earlier this year – Image via www.michezoafrika.com

First things first though, we condemn the actions of those Gor Mahia fans who damaged property and other movables on Saturday after their final game against Thika United. Your actions led to the prolonged chaos and unnecessary tragedies to innocent by-standers who had absolutely nothing to do with the game. 

Secondly and this is where we still believe KPL officials still turn a blind eye and deal with Gor Mahia club with kid gloves, condemnation and punishment should come in HARD. The club has its share of troubled matches and this past season was no exception. There was some semblance of punishment but KPL and Sports Stadia officials bulked down at some point due to shrinking revenues. But what good does it do when a single club’s fans threaten an entire league’s future just because of some few bad elements? If points have to be docked or games played in empty stadia, so be it…ili iwe funzo!

Third, many ardent Gor Mahia fans are quick to excuse themselves and say that those causing problems are thugs and not anyone associated with the club. But isn’t it a familiar trend, draw or lose a crucial game and some form of chaos comes from the proceedings of post-game activities? Out of 16 teams in the Kenya Premier League, which club has the highest incidence of fan trouble, riots, property damage etc? The record speaks for itself, season in, season out.

Fourth, internally the club’s officials have to ensure they identify and weed out elements who keep repeating these unnecessary activities. In leagues such as the South American and European leagues, hooligans have been identified by respective clubs officials and blacklisted by security organs who share these across borders. Though not entirely weeded out, clubs which deviate from a semblance of order are heavily punished and thus officials have decided to be pro-active unlike their counterparts here.

Fifth, for once we agreed with FKF officials who had advised for the game to be moved to Kasarani Stadium on Thika Road ( good god it didn’t happen, otherwise the renovated grounds would have been defaced …maybe…. But Gor officials pleaded with KPL and SuperSport for the game to remain at City Stadium. Except for the artificial turf that was installed, those grounds are not fit for a game of such magnitude. Nairobi City Council (will it exist as is or does it change to County of Nairobi???)or whoever is in charge of the grounds needs to close for a year or so, make proper sitting spaces, proper security arrangements and lighting(floodlights), parking lots and access points and move those hawkers surrounding the stadium. And any day it hosts such a match have proper security systems and traffic regulation.

Sixth it is tragic that the very same political elite that seek to identify with the club do not condemn and make the bad elements stand out when they cause such destruction. Let’s not lie but the club gets its largest followership from one of the Kenyan communities but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have other fans from other communities. Thus the politicians may go easy on the Gor ‘fans’ for the fear of antagonizing a valuable voting bloc asset. That our politicians have perfected the smoke and mirror acts has also pervaded our sports scene and it’s something we will either learn to live with and suffer for it or deal with it before it takes our football back to the doldrums.

Seventh, sections of the media have not been active enough in condemning and/or calling those charged to take more responsibility on such activities. We have heard that some sports editorials are compromised before stories are aired either for fear of reprieve from sports administrators who ‘grease’ those in the take with freebies, tickets or accreditation to international events. These are elements who are putting our sports scene in serious doubts. What happened to the proverbial ‘voice of reason’?

For those of you who think hooliganism is a way of sport, then we should stop humouring ourselves that we are helping the game. Hooliganism and its associated acts is bad for any sport and should be rooted out of Kenyan sport before it develops strong roots. It’s interesting that a game like rugby which is known to associate with toughness and rugged players and who’s majority of fans indulge in alcohol but are some of the most disciplined and gentle ones you’ll ever come across. Maybe there is something we can learn from our rugby counterparts.

Oh and by the way Gor Mahia is facing AFC Leopards in an FKF Cup in a few days time, wonder what shall pan out of this derby? 

For those wishing to engage in further literature you can read this link here on Soccer Violence in South America’s Argentina. You can also check this on Hooliganism in the UK.

We sampled the following Twitter comments and views on the post-match activities;
{and the views contained therein are not in any way endorsements or approval of this blog’s views and as such should be treated independent of the same}

@AKenyanGirl If #KOTs can make a stand against MPigs, we can and should do the same to #GorMahia. Say no to terror and murder in the name of football

@mmurumba Love for football can never be justified by hooliganism. #GorMahia shouldn’t be allowed to participate in #TPL if they can’t accept defeat.

@LukoyeAtwoli #GorMahia fans who make political statements (Gor, Obama, Raila), then complain when violence is blamed on ALL these are being disingenuous

@‏LarryMadowo I’m ashamed to be a #GorMahia fan. Which doofus supporters cannot accept a loss without violence? Plonkers still stuck in the Stone Age, nkt

@MauriYambo Leaders who bask in #GorMahia’s glory days but ‘hide’ when hooligans flood the streets R doing us all a disservice. Time 4 serious man-talk!

@4lifestan A lot have been said concerning the #Gor eventful day, but if the end justifies the means, the club have a lot to ponder on a serious note.

@doreenapollos: Then you see juvenile #Gor fans posting rude tweets in defence,not knowing that rude attitude isn’t helping but stamping the hooligan’s view

@pmusesya If @robertalai wasn’t a #Gor fan, he would be tweefing and condemning and leading a movement against them…oh well, (shrugs)

@suehlawrie This #Gor issue is about thugs and criminals who CHOOSE to attend Gor matches. It does not mean they are Gor fans. Fans respect their clubs.

@mosemogeni It doesn’t matter how big or small the club is, if ur fans are criminals, bring them to justice. #Gor

@kachwanya Football is awesome and at the end of week people get something to be excited about but at the end of the day..it is just a game..

Safari Rally – 60th Edition…still going Strong!

History
This year the Rally once known as the ‘toughest rally across the world’ shall be one year short of marking its Diamond anniversary. This Rally which was inaugurated in 1953 to mark the coronation of then Princess Elizabeth to current Queen Elizabeth – the ruling British monarch, who had chosen Kenya as her holiday destination.

Juha Kankunnen 1993 Safari Rallyimage courtesy of www.turbocelica.nl

The Rally initially was called the EA Coronation Safari, then changing to East African Safari Rally upto 1974 when it settled on the more famous Safari Rally moniker. It was part of the World Rally Championships circuit up until 2003 when the world’s governing body in rallying dropped it. Safety practices, huge expenses for rally teams and lack of corporate sponsorships among others were given as the reasons.
However the Rally has managed to keep its own in the last 10 years and has been a major rally as part of the African Rally Championships – ARC. It has also gradually changed into shorter and more open sections than the traditional rally which was marked by longer and sometimes overnight legs.

Safari Rally Changes
The Safari Rally was also forced to shift its traditional timing from the Easter weekend which usually fell between the months of March and April to the month of June.
It was also forced to split into the East Africa Safari Rally Classic which features older cars manufactured in the 1960s,70s to 80s when the Rally was at its best. The rally was last held last November criss-crossing Kenya and Tanzania.
The organisers have also introduced the popular ‘Spectator Stages’ which are real crowd pullers at the start or end of the major stages. This year’s Rally will also be hoped to entice the WRC gurus back to this side of the Sahara as Africa yearns for a substantive Rally in that circuit.

Check out this link for some interesting stats on the Safari Rally pre-2003.

To all you Rallying enthusiasts mark your calendars for the 8th-10th June 2012 for this dazzle of a Rally!

Kenya Rugby 7s – The Good, the Bad & the UGALI…

This weekend marked the final outing for the Kenyan Rugby 7s team in the 2011/12 IRB 7s circuit series. This season marked one of the worst outings the team has had in recent years. And though many would have loved for the team to make better showing this was not to be:

Willy Ambaka – Kenya Rugby not yet there…

The Good
First though, we commend the technical team managing the national team for ensuring that a wide array of players got exposed to the game this season. The team avoided last year’s dilemma of rotating among a small pool of players and extended this to younger and upcoming ones.
Secondly, the corporate sponsors have practiced patience with the team which is a boon for Kenyan sport. Many a times when a team is on transition, corporate support becomes hard to come by but for this they have managed to keep up the monies – though we don’t know for how long they will be patient with dismal performances…
Managing a transitional team is NOT the easiest thing and Mitch Ocholla & Charles Cardovillis have managed amidst a tough outing from the rest of the teams. The middle-tier level teams such as Canada, Portugal, Scotland, Wales and United States have all styled up and stepped up their game.

The Bad
The now-old Kenya Rugby Union office bearers elected last year came in with a lot of gusto much to the chagrin of rugby enthusiasts and managers of the game. Though there was need to infuse some new hands to play various roles in ensuring the 7s game progressed well, the ‘rough’ treatment accorded to the then technical bench led by Ben Ayimba was not good. The experiences they had were needed to ensure the team didn’t start from scratch. They would have also come in handy with the team selection for the national team and a proper analysis done on each player after each tournament.
The fact that the officials came in trumpeting the fact that they would like to professionalize the 7s team, little has been done beyond the word-of-mouth. It would have served the Union officials better if they explained that they’re working towards such a framework in a gradual process.

The Ugali
Though this was a tad bit exaggerated by the media, the issue of players’ allowances and pay did come out. We don’t know how far the Union has managed to work around this but it demotivates the players to find that their dues are not coming as it ought to.

The technical team at times seemed to be groping in the dark and out of depth in the team selection. It was never supposed to be like this for a team playing in its 9th year of the IRB 7s World Series.

Going forward though, KRU officials need to come to terms with the fact that there is need to infuse more professional and tactical abilities in the game at national and international level. There is also need to conduct continuous clinics around the country and within the residential camps to offer fresh talent and renew the abilities of existing players.
As for going professional, it is a medium to longer term effort which will need more resources not just in finances but also infrastructure; from playing fields, to feeder clubs from the national 7s circuit.
If Kenya hopes to restore its place in the top 10 of the IRB Sevens World Series, KRU officials the honeymoon was surely over a long time ago. Gird thy loins & work the magic NOW!

UPDATES:

Friday 25th May and Kenya Rugby Union is reported to have disbanded the Kenya 7s team, both playing unit and the technical team. If these reports are true, then this IS NOT the way forward that we had recommended.
Also the intended hire of a foreign coach for the technical bench might not bode well for the game. We question why over 10 years of experience in the 7s game would not produce a localised solution to the management team.

A foreign coach, means more money, more time to understand the local scene and also less responsibility on his part in case the team doesn’t perform at par. We all know what has happened to the cricket game, let’s not repeat this in rugby PLEASE!