Shirt Sponsorship – Kenya Shujaa 7s refuse to ‘Make It Kenya’

By Richard Wanjohi

The final leg of the 2017-18 World Rugby Sevens season in Paris was supposed to be the crowning moment for Kenya’s Sevens team – Shujaa. Kenya was in a tough group consisting of Fiji, New Zealand and Samoa. Starting off with New Zealand Shujaa lost before registering comprehensive wins against Fiji and Samoa, only to miss out on the Main Cup proper on account of points made (when the Fijians beat New Zealand).

Kenya 7s Team Shujaa at Paris 7s - Image courtesy of Andrew Sawatsky
Kenya 7s Team Shujaa at Paris 7s – Image courtesy of Andrew Sawatsky

For us watching the final leg though, something was amiss. Having gone almost the entire season without a shirt sponsor, we had gotten used to the miniscule logo of a local edible oils company at the back of the jerseys.
However just before the penultimate leg at Twickenham in England the team was able to secure the sponsorship – from Brand Kenya Board- with the boys donning the newly done shirts. Meant to have the ‘Make It Kenya’ moniker on the kit’s tops (around the chest), the lads decided to make good use of the medical tape usually provided for tying up the wrists and other injuries on their person.
Various media reports were peddled about non-payment of monies by Brand Kenya, or non-remittance of the same by Kenya Rugby Union to the players, others still on the release of fund to the team by GoK earlier last week. Depending on the sources the grapevine, the heart of the jerseys fiasco will unravel as the team arrives in the country and both Union and players give us their side of the story.
To get down to serious matters, sponsorship is defined as a ‘business relationship between a provider of funds, resources or services and an individual event or organization which offers in return some rights and association that may be used for commercial advantage’ according to one Steve Sleigh.
The World Rugby which manages and organises the World Sevens Series has strict and elaborate rules regarding kit sponsorship and how the shorts and tops ought to be emblazoned. See the details here.
In Kenya Rugby Union’s case, the shirt sponsorship by Brand Kenya Board is worth KES 20 million – with the deal meant to include use of the rugby sevens team players as global brand ambassadors for Brand Kenya for the next 8 months.
Seeing as the sponsorship came at the tail-end of the 2017-18 season, there were balances of monies and allowances owed to the players and team management including the training and conditioning managers.
Reliable sources inform us the team were to be paid the monies in four tranches of KES 4 million each. An additional amount of KES 2.5 million is to be paid directly to the players at KES 100,000 each. The balance of KES 1.5 million maybe taken as the Union’s management fee.
Here’s a sample of tweets titled #MaskingGate7s:


So what is the crux of the matter?
1. Given the history of non-payment of salaries and allowances, and also due to the end of the 2017-18 season, the players may have felt aggrieved for not receiving their dues in good time. What would stop the officials from withholding the same?
2. There is also the small matter of unpaid dues to the management and technical team officials. With a shoestring budget, where is the Kenya Rugby Union supposed to source for these monies?
3. Third, Brand Kenya Board as a government body is part of the bureaucracy that sees monies meant to be channeled for the good of the country – in this case sport, are either delayed or swindled by cunning bureaucrats’ within the system. It has happened before with contingents of teams representing Kenya on international assignments.
The important lesson here, is that the players are the ones most affected by the sponsorship (or lack thereof). They straddle and run themselves day in and day out. Putting up sterling performances against fully professional sides by the lads is no mean feat. It is the responsibility of both the Union and corporate sponsors to ensure such fiascos do not occur.
Though Brand Kenya and Union officials have assured the players of payment of the dues, this ought not to have happened in the first place. The damage caused to both delayed payments and concealed shirts by the players is not irreparable. Hard lessons learnt from all parties.
With the upcoming Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco- USA from the 21st of July, Kenya’s Shujaa team is among the nations expected to perform well and shock a few seasoned teams. This is not the time to create off-or-on-field distractions.

Here’s a link to the Kenya Rugby Union’s statement in light of the non-committal and upcoming national teams assignments. Here’s a sneak peek of the statement;

The Kenya Rugby Union wishes to clarify that it has only received Ksh 31m out of a budget of Ksh 124m that was presented to and accepted by the Ministry of Sport after our headline partner pulled out . Following a meeting with the Ministry of Sports on January 10, it presented a budget of Ksh 124m two days later. (January 12). A second meeting with the Ministry took place on January 15 before the K.R.U received a payment of Ksh 31m in early February. This amount has been used to support our national squads in various assignments and we thank the Government for this….

In the absence of Government support, K.R.U is considering pulling all its representative squads out of international assignments. In light of the fiasco in Paris this past weekend, the K.R.U will take action to make sure that this does not happen again.

Olympics 2012 – Kenyan Sports Officials’ Gravy Train…

Media reports over the weekend reported the apprehension and confusion that is going into Kenya’s preparations for the London Olympics which start in a little over 10 days from today. After Kenya’s trials were completed in June, it was all systems go for preparations for a respectable if not historic medal harvest.
But right from the word go, we have been hearing of grumbling from Kenyan athletes and officials arriving too early under the pretext of preparations.
The training camp at Bristol has come under scrutiny with some complaints of the facilities needing some sprucing up ( for the swimmers) and also the lack of altitude that would have an effect for the athletes in the athletics discipline.
That officials would start arriving a full 3 weeks to the opening of the Games smacks of irresponsibility and excesses in their part to earn unwarranted allowances. We know that Kenya’s marketing team in Brand Kenya had already made plans to set up shop in London ( the venue is branded as “Kenya House”). This is to try market the country as a favourable destination for not just the usual tourism circuits but also for investment opportunities e.g in infrastructure and ICT, but also sports tourism among many others.
Reliable sources inform us of how Government and parastatal officials have been fighting to be included in the trip not so much because of their working briefs but instead to ‘enjoy the trappings of a fully-sponsored outing by the Government’ – indulge in shopping sprees, enjoy access to some of the venues and also for some of them to treat their girlfriends and boyfriends (yes even the married ones) to sights and sounds of the UK!
That officials would be so carefree to leave the athletes to their own destiny is quite deplorable to say the least. We also saw the way one of the athletes who had been named in the 4 x 400m men’s relay team was treated and sent back home just a few days after reporting to camp.
Which begs these questions;

  • Why would Kenyan sports authorities sign up for training facilities without vetting them properly?
  • Why should the bulk of the athletes report to camp a whole month into the Games even when the officials know that conditions at the training camps are not ideal?
  • Who vets the number of officials who leave the country to make the necessary preparations for the athletes and other parties relating the Olympic travelling team?
  • How many sports associations are represented at the Games? And should they be there in the first place if their sports men and women are NOT represented? 
  • Year in year out, we’re treated to the charades of Kenyan sports and Government officials who have no business being at major sporting events being part of the contingent. Bwana Waziri, can you tell us who caters for their expenses and if so why waste taxpayers monies ‘chasing dreams’? {NB: The All-Africa Games in Maputo – Mozambique had similar claims and the findings from Parliament are yet to come out. We can almost guarantee a similar story come September…}
  • Why do our sports officials sacrifice the sports people at the altar of greed and selfish ego-trips?
If Kenya does not realise its full potent in winning the maximum number of gold medals, at least we have an inkling of where to apportion the blame. 

London 2012 Olympics – Are we Ready?

This year’s main sporting event the Olympics is starting to get much coverage and it is bound to get busier as we approach the July -August date. Kenya’s National Olympic Committee was reported as starting some semblance of arrangements to prepare respective disciplines for the Games.
But this is far from the reality and the first month of 2012 is gone. Save for the women’s volleyball team which was pitching camp at Kasarani and Nyayo stadium ( depending on which facility the SSMB would allow them to use), most of the other sporting disciplines are yet to start any formal camp.
Realistically the disciplines we might be represented in are Athletics, Swimming, Volleyball, Rowing and Boxing with the latter two engaged in leadership squabbles. Those which might bring in any form of medals are 2-3 but if the right preparations and technical expertise is employed 4 of these should reap some medals.
For the longest time, Kenyan teams preparing for international events have been under-training and the respective sports management bodies engaged in leadership squabbles, often involving financial help given to those in the team and also to secure freebies to such events.
The Government though pledging and putting in the necessary financial assistance and attractive bonuses, has not sought more transparency and accountability from the respective sports bodies.
It is tragic that the innocent sports people are the ones who suffer for the ‘sins’ of their superiors. While teams like Britain have been having their athletes holding their camp in the Kenyan Rift Valley, we have yet to get the camp of our national athletes even those who might not make it. Our sources tell us the Kenyan swimmers led by Jason Dunford, are hard at training and should pull a suprise amidst the traditional powers in the pool.
Boxing and Rowing we’re still gathering information though not much is forthcoming from the respective national officials.

The Government of Kenya’s busy working on other ‘national issues’ though promises have been made to avail at least half of the around KSh. 400 million required to send the team to London. other bodies such as Brand Kenya are tagging along to seek to sell the country as a worthy national brand not just with the traditional forms of tourism – game watching, beaches but also sports tourism.
GoK also formed a National Steering Committee to look into preparations of the London team and source for the reminder of the funds. This is an arduous task by any means. We also have the yet-to-be launched National Lottery…

146 days and counting…

Brazilian EA Expo – Samba comes to town…

In March 2011, the Brazilian EA Expo comes to Nairobi with a flurry of activities mainly on the sports arena. The finals of the Kenya Youth Football League which started in January 2011 comes to an end ; there shall be coaching clinics held by 4-6 Brazilian tacticians ; a Brazilian football club shall play a Kenyan counter-part with a Samba troupe expected to grace either or two of these occasions.

Brazilian Samba Dancers – image courtesy of 

Along with this, there shall be a Brazilian art display at the KICC. This shall take place from the 26th of March 2011. Organisers of this event include BrazGroup (which has an interesting name featured, one Maina Kariuki – wonder whether it’s the former KFF Chair?), Sadili Oval – a local youth talent development centre; along with EA Brazil Limited ; the Brazilian Embassy in Kenya and Carlson Wagonlit Travel. For more details, you can check the details here.

Run with Kenyans

Friday found one of our contributors dutifully make it for a breakfast briefing by Brand Kenya. The morning’s call was to launch activities geared towards marking the country’s 50th (golden) anniversary ( yup Kenya’s 50 on 2013!).

As has lately been realised by Government operatives and bodies tasked with promoting Kenya as nation brand, the use of sports is gaining credence and a focal point. As the Brand Kenya officials noted, it is important to leverage the country especially as it looks to mark some important milestones with an election next year as it moves to the next 50 years.
Sport has been known to unify the most warring of states and Kenya is no exception. As such some Kenyan entrepreneur who works in the US, one Wilson Kiriungi ,Marco Peterson(former IT entrepreneur) and Benjamin Rapoport (a medical practitioner) have come up with a organisation, Run With Kenyans. The motivation behind this organisation is to ride on the wave of Kenyan marathoners/athletes who have been winners of various top marathons across the world.
Using the goodwill built by the athletes, the organisation will target US recreational marathoners (the US has approximately 48 million of these, 15 million who run at least 10 times annually in the half & full marathons across the States). These runners are from the upper middle class to the affluent thus making good targets fpr sports tourism. 
Starting with the Boston Marathon, reputedly the oldest marathon in the world and which coincidentally has been won by Kenyans since 1991 (including a current sitting MP for Emgwen – Elijah Langat in 2000) ; the plans are to have a Kenyan House stand at the preceding Expo of the Marathon. This expo usually has an average attendance of 80,000. Replicating this across major marathons including the Chicago, New York, London among others. 
The other benefit is to pitch to the Kenyans living in the diaspora to cheer on their compatriots and also participate in the marathon(s). 

Robert ‘Mwafrika’ Cheruiyot – one of the past winners – Boston Marathon
We do wish them well in their endeavours and kudos to Brand Kenya for taking this initiative. This should not be the last of such ideas and the potent of sport is huge. If they can keep luring Government operatives away from the politics to focus more on such developments, the country will be all the better for this.

Have Sports/Members Clubs & grounds in Kenya lost their meaning?

A casual dip around Nairobi recently has revealed a worrying trend with regards to sports clubs and grounds. The tradition has been that for any major company – be it a public listed one, parastatal (Government-owned) or even big companies having their operations located here – most have a sports club or what some love subscribing as members’ club (with more exclusivity and restrictive in enrolling).
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Given the urban developments currently plaguing our urban centres, the life of most of these clubs is slowly coming to an not-so-natural death. Where do we start? A few strides to the Kenya Railways Sports Club indicates this as one of the worst hit with developments around  it slowly being given to private developers.In recent months, the club has lost the tennis courts and is also missing the field which is playing host to some ‘hireling’ whose having some fun-fair for God-knows-till-when.

Sometime ago, they had even drawn some ambitious plans of developing a property – Golf City . Sweet dreams indeed ….

The club’s pool also looks so depleted and is also in its final throes of closure. The only part which looks untouched is the golf park but with the road works around the Upper Hill and along Uhuru Highway encroaching, it’s just a matter of time.

Cross over to Thika Road which is going into overdrive with 6-lane roads and all the hullabaloo of ‘modernity’ three clubs here are most likely to see their grounds chipped away. KCB Sports Club ( popularly known as The Den), Barclays Sports Club (which had almost been sold entirely by the Barclays Bank of Kenya) and Stima Club (housing Kenya Power and Lighting Co’s sports club) all at Ruaraka are the main clubs affected.

Crickets ground along Forest Road has also seen quite a chip thanks to the road works being done on Thika Road. I have not even mentioned the grounds in other urban centres and the clubs which have long become vandalised and lost to neglect.

While it is good for the Government to construct and upgrade our roads, it seems sports grounds and clubs have long become viable places for taking up land and using it for other works. Very few estates in Nairobi City have grounds for children and budding talent to start nurturing their sports dreams. Some of the worst affected are the Eastlands sections – Umoja, Buruburu, Doonholm which have become ‘concrete jungles’. Upmarket estates are quickly trying to emulate the other sides too and losing their leafy suburbs and the open spaces such as the grounds shall soon become all too good to miss.

Are we sure we hope to be a sporting nation with such developments going on? When was the last time we invested in a new sporting venue without seeking international aid? Shall we continue begging even as we shoot (or is it build?) ourselves? Or maybe we are hoping to build indoor arenas ? Maybe we haven’t gotten that memo yet…

It breaks the spirit seeing no one is investing in physical structures to aid sport and the little that we have is either in neglect or grabbed by some greedy private developers.

StanChart Nairobi Marathon 2010 date confirmed

This year’s Nairobi International marathon is on the 31st of October once again snaking its way into Nairobi City roads ( though the route has slight changes as the run takes runners into some major roads).

As the launch was made, it was suggested that the sponsors and organisers look into inviting elite athletes by paying appearance fees. That’s a great way of raising the event’s spotlight but a lot needs to be done to ensure the local populace and marathon-running citizens continue flocking the event.
Henry Wanyoike (Courtesy of  Henry Wanyoike Foundation)

Marking its 8th anniversary, the organisers have a huge task of raising the more than KShs. 20 million ( approx. US$ 250,000) that usually goes the Seeing is Believing Initiative which seeks to eradicate and avoid blindness of children under the age of 9. One of their biggest scoop has been Henry Wanyoike – Kenya’s most famous blind athlete to date who even featured in their latest ad (as Standard Chartered marks its 100th year of business in Kenya).

The organisers have raised their target to 16,000 which is a task given last year’s drop to just below 15,000 runners – as is usually the case, Kenyans and their last-minute habits of beating deadlines. Brand Kenya and Kenya Tourism Board have also been challenged to sell the country as a sports tourism destination(check this from World Sport Destination Expo too) and hope to reap from the foreign visitors visiting the country. Average figures from other major cities are usually in excess of 40-50,000 runners and even more peripheral ones in tow.
Organisers also hope to attract media attention and secure rights to screen the run as they did last year on SuperSports. We shall be bringing you updates and again capture moments as they happen on the day. You can register for the marathon here. The fees are KShs. 1000 for individuals, 500-kids and 50,000 for corporate teams.

Promulgate yes, but you better change the Kenyan Sports scene too….

If you are in Kenya, the last few days (and obviously the next few too) we have the benefit of adding to our vocabulary a new word, PROMULGATE. All said and done, it is good for a nation to move from one state of affairs and mature to the next stage and earning its place in history for it’s fairly all-inclusive, all consultative and largely well-publicised process.

While it is always fair to criticise our politicians and policy-makers for not making progress in some of the country’s sectors, we hope the new mood in the air shall drive some sense into the very people we seek to engage in making our country a hub of sport and secure its place on the world scene.
We shall not celebrate yet, but shall join Kenyans in marking this occasion tomorrow. The pessimist side of things tells us it’s a slow grind getting to the ‘promised land’ (with regard to sports). It also requires vigilance from all involved parties – players, officials, investors, corporate firms, media and all – that wish well for this very lucrative and unifying sector but often overlooked and under-estimated.
Mark your calendars people, 27th August 2010, we start counting as we hope to keep the promises to ourselves and the very state of Kenya. God bless Kenya !

Brand Kenya : Thinking of Ideas? Open Your Eyes !

Over the last few months, Brand Kenya & Kenya Tourism Board has made some efforts in trying to promote the country as an ideal destination for tourists from Europe and other continents.

I’ve even seen a flash ad on the BBC Website as well as the Magical Kenya one which even appeared on CNN which some critiques have commented on.
While all this is well-intentioned and may serve a certain number of interested parties, I’d wish to refer them to a survey they did some few days ago saying Kenyan athletes are the best for our country’s image ?
Well RIGHT THERE ! You have your answer !
Why can’t those who seek to promote the country think of selling our country during the major races in the cities of Madrid, Paris, London and Boston? They can sponsor a section of the race or put a 25-30 sec ad during the race (most of which are covered live across major TV channels and other terrestrial networks). Even better they can have the respective ambassadorial and diplomatic offices seek some placement before or after the race to sell some of their agenda or brand the events – sports branding.
How ideal it would be since you are almost always assured that a Kenyan will win the race or be among the top 3. When our brothers placed 2nd-5th on this year’s Paris Marathon, our own ambassador Elkanah Odembo was among the fans cheering and was emblazoned in Kenyan colours and had also handed out Kenyan flag-lets to Kenyans and fans along the way. It was a joy watching the cameras capture our few minutes of glory.
What more, what happens when our boys are playing in the IRB circuit across the world? Hey maybe they have not thought of it that way but you’ll have more than enough to do and the savings from having to send all the entourages across the globe. Wishful thinking ???

Brand Kenya Awards

2009 is sure looking to start well for the sporting scene in Kenya. We already have the Kenyan team in Kampala playing the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup and boy we better win this one.
The second week of January, the Marketing Society of Kenya supported initiative Brand Kenya will be rewarding Kenyans who have been exemplary to the Kenyan cause. I am sure Kenyan sports personalities will definitely feature in the line-up. I do hope they will not be a sham like has been with such initiatives.
I also hope they can encompass not just recent ‘heroes’ but some unsung ones from back in the day. They can contact me for some of the sporting ones for that matter…OK enough with that…
Let’s meet at KICC on 17th January 2009 for what ought to be true Kenyan experience !
The Brand Kenya board has gotten some KShs. 2 billion to use to market Kenya. I’m hoping this initiative takes shape now since it’s been rather a non-starter on most billings. It would be an informed decision not to just sit and draw up fancy papers. This should an opportune time since Kenya has become a regular headliner in international circles for both the right & wrong reasons. One Nesbitt tells us there is a village in the UK which has over 1.5 million visitors while we applaud when we cross the 1 million mark as a country.