Of Sports Legacies – Kenneth Matiba’s

In keeping with the spirit of localized sports content, we took time to pay homage to one of Kenya’s foremost entrepreneurs and influences of sports. Though known more for his political exploits than his sporting streak, his legacy will live to endure. Here’s to the late Kenneth Stanley Njindo Matiba.

In April this year, Kenya mourned the loss of one of its most astute politicians and efficacious entrepreneurs in Kenneth Njindo Matiba. Even more significant to this column, we lost one of the best sports administrators and visionaries the country has ever had.

Starting off as a senior civil servant, Matiba quit politics to join the world of business (before making a re-entry back to politics in the 1980s). His entry into one of Kenya’s blue chip companies, Kenya Breweries otherwise trading as East Africa Breweries Limited, his impact in both business and sports started being felt almost immediately.

The late K.N. Matiba tests the track at Nyayo National Stadium - Image courtesy of www.nation.co.ke
The late K.N. Matiba tests the track at Nyayo National Stadium – Image courtesy of www.nation.co.ke

First off was Kenyan football where he cajoled the revamp and formation of a new team to run the sport. This ensured that not only were the officials meant to be competent people but also accountable to both the sports people and sponsors alike.

As if to reciprocate his intended mission, Kenyan football entered one of its golden periods late 1970s to early 1980s. This was both at club and national team performances – where the AFC Leopards and Gor Mahias of yore won the CECAFA Club title and Harambee Stars the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup. In the same token, Matiba managed to develop an in-house team in the form of Kenya Breweries which would occasionally challenge the top clubs of Kenyan football then – indeed it was the foundation set in the 1980s which saw the club reaching the continental club cup challenge in 1994 – only to lose in the Finals to DRC’s DC Motema Pembe.

He had intended to professionalize football as early as 1978 while serving as the KFF Chair. Even though this never came to fruition following his resignation from the federation, he had aspired to leave the game with what would have been its enduring legacy. He handed over to the new team with the transparency and accountability of a custodian entrusted to run the federation’s properties.

To ensure his impact wasn’t restricted to one sport, Matiba assigned some of his colleagues at Kenya Breweries to manage the boxing federation. This was through one Marsden Madoka – as chair of Amateur Boxing Association (now known as the Boxing Association of Kenya). Through the latter’s stewardship, Kenya had its best decade to date in the 1980s when the national team, affectionately known as the “Hit Squad” participated in several international tournaments coming home with worthy wins. From the 1987 8-Gold medals performance in Nairobi at the All Africa Games to the first and only Gold medal outside of athletics for Kenya at the 1988 Olympic Games held in Seoul.

Would we forget it’s during Matiba’s stint in the Culture Ministry that Kenya hosted boxing legend Muhammad Ali as well as FIFA’s top honcho then, Joao Havelenge?

Talking matters Olympics, it was during his legacy that the Olympic Youth Centres were launched in Kenya. This was a youth development program meant to develop and nurture talent from all parts of the country. This program produced some of the best footballers who came of age in the 1980s including the likes of Ambrose Ayoyi, Davies Oyiela, Hassan Juma and Wycliffe Anyagu just to mention but a few. It is this breed of players who stood up to Egypt’s The Pharaohs at the 1987 All Africa Games only to lose by a goal in the gold medal match.

Kenya's Harambee Stars at All-Africa Games 1987 - Image courtesy of www.kenyanpage.net
Kenya’s Harambee Stars at All-Africa Games 1987 – Image courtesy of www.kenyanpage.net

The team had beaten strong teams that included Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions (who three years later made history in the 1990 World Cup in Italy getting to the quarter-finals), Malawi and Tunisia. Imagine where The Pharaohs are playing now? At the World Cup in St. Petersburg, Russia. If Kenya had only followed through with the dreams of the 1970s and 1980s? If not at international level, at least the continental onslaught would be more likely achieved by now.

Do you recall the Festival of Darts screened on national television in the 1980s and 1990s? “Gaame shot!” invoked one Sammy Lui Wang’ondu – who worked as Matiba’s PA at Kenya Breweries at one time and moonlighted as an MC on other occasions. For what would appear to have been a nondescript game, the sponsorship and screening of the same by Kenya Breweries popularized the sport immensely locally.

It introduced us to the English and Swahili banter of Michael Round-Turner and Dunstan Tido Muhando whose analysis kept us glued to the screens just before the English news on the only TV station then. Thanks to these developments, the Kenyan Darts national team participated in the 1993 Darts World Cup in Las Vegas emerging 8th out of 34 nations.

To other less visible sporting and outdoor activities including the Outward Bound and Hodari Boys Club – which sought to nurture young boys in their teens to formidable young men to the mountaineering club which did became an obsession to the man, Kenneth Matiba did it all. From snow-capped mountains of Equatorial Africa in Mt. Kenya and Kilimanjaro in Africa to Mt. Everest on the challenging and tall ranges of Himalayas in Asia. For him, it was not enough to put money into sports but rather put money where his mouth was. He did walk his talk, quite literally!

His lessons in sports business and management ought to be chronicled in the annals of Kenyan sport.  He managed to convince the sports federations to style up and clean house.  His was investing in sport but also ensuring the monies put into sports were well spent and sports persons rewarded for their performances.  Our current state of sport in the country is dire need of such a visionary.

Sports federations have been riding roughshod over sports teams and athletes. How do we explain the sad tale of two of Kenya’s top teams who still can’t afford to pay their players on a monthly basis? Why do the clubs have to depend on a single sponsor who whenever it doesn’t suit their needs withdraws sponsorship on a whim? How many times will we keep hearing of unpaid allowances and bonuses for teams on national duty?

Even with the enactment of the Sports Bill, the magic bullet that we have waited for to change and transform sports in Kenya is still a nonstarter. Two Cabinet Secretaries later, the National Sports Lottery is still a cropper even as our athletes keep bringing honor to this nation – at amateur, semi-professional and professional levels. We have seen divestiture by companies from sports on mismanagement of the sponsorship monies as well as increased costs of doing business – Naspers SuperSport comes to mind. If I were to list the companies that have offered to sponsor sports but give it a wide berth due to mismanagement and lack of foresight, I’d run out of space on this article.

What can we learn from the late Matiba?

For starters, sports federations have to learn to operate within the confines of their respective laws and those of the land. Transparency and accountability ought to be second nature to the daily operations.

  • To sports officials, the sports discipline is about the athletes or players – never about you. Let your actions and decisions be the yardstick by which the sporting fraternity uses to judge your performance. Your legacy should speak for itself not weekly press briefings.
  • To Kenyan corporates, put your money where your mouth is. Choose a sport, research well and be invested for the long-haul. The sporadic and measly sponsorships to get good mentions and media mileage will not fly.
  • Still on investment in sport, it should not be an afterthought and peppered CSR activities that brand managers run for. Offer the time, experience and skills to run sport like a business – for we ought to be in the business of sports in this century.
  • To sports athletes, players and coaches discipline, focus and leadership where needed will ensure success of your respective sports disciplines. In the crazy millennium that is the 21st century, yours isn’t an enviable task but it’s the one thing that you have chosen to do – do it well.
  • With his stints in both Kenyan football and other sporting activities, as well as his stint in the Ministry of Culture and Social Services, he served his country diligently. Though brief, the legacies left in respective disciplines are more than we can share here.

God bless Matiba’s time with us, rest in sport brave warrior!

SportPesa’s Sponsorship Withdrawal – Biggest Gamble

2018 Cometh……

2017 has been one momentous year for the country. Even in the world of sport, it has been a well mix in the basket. Talking of baskets, tongues are wagging about the biggest sponsors of sport in Kenya – SportPesa – who are thinking of pulling back their bountiful offering, effectively reducing its involvement in sports in Kenya. What does this portend for sports in 2018?

We got the world...(image courtesy of SportPesa)
We got the world…(image courtesy of SportPesa)

A few posts ago, we predicted the impact of sports betting companies on our sports scene. A casual look at Kenyan sport in the last 3 years has seen a major impact both directly and indirectly on how we consume and interact with sport.
A PwC report on Kenya Entertainment and Media 2013-17 , revenues from sports betting were projected to rise from US$ 11.7 million (2012) to $17.3 million (2017).
As of writing this post, there are about 25 sports betting (and gambling )companies registered in Kenya. The biggest and easily recognisable is SportPesa – operating BCLB (Betting Control & Licensing Board) license no. 673 through Pevans EA Ltd.

Conservative estimates of sports betting and its impact to the economy are at between KES 635-700 million p.a. This is mainly in sports sponsorship, direct spending in improving sports facilities and teams, as well as employment. Add another KES. 2.4 billion in media spend (various media research reports in 2017) – from digital, print, radio and TV – as well as daily spends and we’re talking of billions of shillings!

The synergy enjoyed by both betting and telecoms companies have seen the mobile money in Kenya grow to daily transactions worth KES 18.4 billion! A good fraction of the monies are from your common man on the street, to the discerning campus student and many in blue-collar jobs who review their odds every other morning to make the winnings.

SportPesa Success

Back to SportPesa, the upsurge of sports betting in Kenya can be attributed to its adeptness and adaptability to their audience. As aptly summarised by BetMoran on the post titled ‘ Why SportPesa is very successful‘ the main points include;

  • Consumer spend – 50,000 users spending an average of KES. 500 = KES 25 million per month;
  • High and engaged web audience – an average of 16-18 million users every month (if using Google AdSense-this is another revenue stream);
  • Consumer education – when launching in 2014 just in time for the World Cup, SportPesa has continually educated its target audience on its various betting platforms and options;
  • Mobile technology – as noted above, riding the wave of over 25 million unique mobile phone connections, SportPesa was able to ride the wave of mobile money and making it integral in its platforms;
  • Media spend and engagement- as of Aug 2017, SportPesa was the biggest ad spending firm in media in Kenya rivalling telecoms and FMCGs such as Safaricom, Coca-Cola and P&G that have traditionally been high spenders in these.
  • Timing – launching in time for the 2014 World Cup, the brand was able to take advantage of the biggest sports extravaganza in the world. Pray they’re already looking forward to the 2018 one…

Enter GoK’s hand

In May/June 2017, the Treasury CS tabled proposals to tax sports betting firms in Kenya as high as +50% of the daily collections. While it is not our forte in matters taxation, with the numbers mentioned above, it would be foolhardy to assume this would not attract the Treasury technocrats. Given its agenda to invest in infrastructure including the now-on-then-off stadia development, the GoK has had a tough year in looking to bridge the budget deficit.

Sports betting firms did what is becoming our typical litigious selves in Kenya and took to court to stop the tax measures. The case to nullify the tax measures was dismissed last week, effectively attracting a 35% tax cap on the gross earnings of the sports betting firms effective January 2019.

As of close of 2017, the tax percentages were as follows;

  • 5% of lottery sales;
  • 7.5% for betting firms and bookmakers;
  • 12% for casino gambling and
  • 15% for raffles.
  • Additional taxes include 30% corporate tax and 25% of their total sales dedicated to social causes, including sports activities.

SportPesa is currently involved in major sporting disciplines including;

a) Football – FKF, Premier League, Super 8 , Gor Mahia FC, AFC Leopards FC and Nakuru All Stars FC

b) Rugby – through KRU, National 7s team and Kenya Harlequins;

c) Boxing – Boxing Association of Kenya and boxer Fatima Zarika;

d) Rallying – by sponsoring Leonardo Varese.

Other sponsorship includes shirt sponsoring Everton FC; sports partnership with Arsenal FC, Southampton FC and Hull City as well as La Liga in Spain.

All these associations are likely to be affected in one way or the other once the firm confirms its future role in sponsoring sports in Kenya and overseas too.

Having started expanding its geographical reach in the region to both Uganda and Tanzania, the main market still remains the local scene. The firm’s perceived close links within the GoK will also be exploring ways of either reducing the burden of taxation or enjoying tax holidays for a little longer than the prescribed date.

Way Out?

  1. National Sports Lottery – the establishment of this lottery is long overdue. The GoK through the Ministry of Culture and Sports ought to have fast-tracked this in the last 3 years. Among the many options would be to push for all betting and gambling companies to remit part of their monthly revenues to this common Fund. The monies raised would be apportioned to the sports associations proportionate to the scope of the sport and planned activities for the year. This has worked successfully in countries such as the UK.
  2. Commensurate Social Responsibility – in South Africa, betting and gambling companies have to engage a fair amount of their revenues to corporate social responsibility. While it may not be a sustainable business model for sports business, it is a means to the end of sports development in parts of the world as this.
  3. Lobbying – while we are not privy to what may have happened along the corridors of Parliament and the delays in confirmation of respective committees, it would serve them well to lobby the legislators to reduce the impact of the taxation on their revenues. Alternatively they can give their options of tax regime or tax holiday for those setting up to their 2nd or 3rd year upon which the applicable tax kicks in.

As of 1st January 2018, SportPesa had sought to appeal the ruling in the courts seeking to overturn the ruling. In the meantime, all local sponsorship stands suspended.

To managing the taxman and his demands, a lot still needs to be done to reach a consensus. For the sports organisations likely to be affected, a common ground on appealing to those in Government can be pursued.

It remains to be seen how the biggest gamble will finally play out in 2018.

 

Kenya Premier League becomes Tusker Premier League, Really???

After a couple of months of haggling and boardroom meetings, Kenya’s Premier League found a suitor in the name of Tusker – EABL’s flagship beer brand. Analysts may look at it and say that it’s a major boost to the professional football game in Kenya, but as usual we have the skeptics who think otherwise.
First, the KSh. 170 million deal signed is for a 3-year period meaning a little under KSh. 60 million per year – a fairly modest figure for a 16 club league ( approx KSh. 3.75 million per club if its shared equally among them).

Secondly, this is the second time EABL is making an offer for the title sponsors for the Kenyan top football league. In 2001 they withdrew after football wrangles and mismanagement from football officials running the now defunct KFF were the order of the day. It is 2012 and this has not changed drastically after only recently the Vice Chair Sammy Shollei was suspended for making public claims of corruption and poor managerial decisions. We shall also remember the cancelled deal between Safaricom and FKF ( in the Sakata Ball junior tournament).
Though KPL is not entirely run by FKF, FKF still calls the shots on matters football in Kenya. They have been trying to get their noses in ( like they did with the whole fiasco of accreditation for media houses and journalists for the 2012 season). They may not been in on the servings yet but they’re not far from it too. Once Nyamweya and his minions are able to wrestle the league from SuperSport-led Jack Oguda, we can be sure it won’t be business as usual more like business unusual…

Third, EABL has been managing a club that is in the KPL , Tusker FC – reigning champions of the league. The club recently sacked its manager Sammy ‘Pumzo’ Omollo  and has been having a bad patch after being eliminated at the CECAFA Club Championships held in Dar in July and August this year. This relationship of the club and its ‘sponsors’ need be outlined clearly to avoid any conflict of interest.

Fourth, the EABL is also sponsoring the national team Harambee Stars with the sponsors hoping for a World Cup qualification – a bit far-fetched if you ask us. This is because with the expected hire of a foreign coach, the wage bill of the management team will go throw the roof at the expense of the team’s meagre resources. For the longest time, whenever the players go for national duty, they’re never paid in time – be it their allowances or refunds for air tickets. What will change with this sponsorship?

Fifth, EABL is a beer company and they have been challenging the legality of the oft-quoted Mututho Laws – which prescribe against the consumption of beer during the day/working hours and at certain public locations. The same goes for under-age drinking. We all know that the Kenyan football fans are a fragile lot especially in the derbies which don’t always end up well. Put alcohol in the mix, and can’t imagine what would happen next.
How shall EABL hope to overcome these challenges? Maybe through its soft drink brand ( which would have been quite a coup by the way, Alvaro Premier League especially for share-of-throat that they have been trying to fight with soft drinks). This is something FKF and KPL ought to have considered when approaching potential suitors.

Talking of suitors, it has been said in the grapevine that there were other companies which were also approached but when they raised the issues of management and proper financial outlays, these were not easily availed. It would also have been interesting to see a separate sponsor from the national team to the national league.

But being still at times teething era, the Kenyan football scene has lots to learn from other African leagues and more advanced ones across the world. In Ghana for example, Globacom International ( mobile company) sponsors the Ghanaian League for approx. KSh.180 million per year! Points to ponder right there!

{Guest Post by Football Pundit Ansell M}

Kenya v/s Malawi – 2014 World Cup Qualifier starts in Earnest

The qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup to be held in Brazil start in earnest in a week’s time and for Kenya this journey begins with the small step of facing Malawi at home. For a start, the fixture is quite significant given that the Kenya Premier League cleared its first leg of matches for the 2011/12 season a week ago. This ensures that the players have had fairly reasonable time to train as a unit.

Kenyan Football fan

A second feature is the fact that most European Leagues have ended and for those Kenyans who were playing for their respective teams, it is ample time to come back and do national duty for the game. But with the unresolved issues of McDonald Mariga’s refunds and the tiff between Dennis Oliech, EABL and Harambee Stars Management Board, you can rest assured the two will not feature in the upcoming game. Coach Francis Kimanzi will have the unenviable task of naming a team more likely to have new faces & local players as opposed to the over-reliance on the pros.
Third, we have the game taking place at the reopened and refurbished Kasarani ( or by the mouthful name of Moi International Sports Centre-MISC). The facility has ample space for parking, fans and teams alike as well as a great atmosphere for such a game. The venue has also been a good omen to the national team having played games there against big teams and going home victors in front of the home fans. Remember Kenya v/s Nigeria in 1996?
Lastly it will be a long weekend courtesy of a public holiday on 1st June thus providing the perfect excuse for the discerning sports fans in Kenya for a good weekend outing.
Thus said, all Kenyan football fans can show up and support the team to ensure they start on the right footing for the World Cup journey to the Samba country.
Tickets for the game shall be sold online for the first time as Football Kenya Federation tries to beat fake tickets peddlers and ensuring a more centralised and user-friendly mode of acquiring match tickets. You can access the site at www.kapstickets.com and pay via MasterCard, Visa or Airtel Money ( wonder why they never incorporated the more popular M-Pesa…)

Update:
As of Monday 28th May, Dennis Oliech had reported to the Kenyan training camp at Kenya School of Monetary Studies for the Kenya – Malawi game.  Word has it that FKF & EABL had sought to clear the small issue of using his image(s) for the Tusker/Harambee Stars promo. Hope it’s the last we’re hearing of this and look forward to Kenya making the best of the qualifications to the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.

Statistics thus far:
Going into Saturday’s game, Kenya has played 56 games for the World Cup qualifiers; won 18, drawn in 12 and lost 26. A dismal performance indeed! But as they say, every day is a new day and the boys can rise up and rewrite history…time will tell!

Dennis Oliech, FKF & EABL – Get it Together People!

Tusker Sponsorship stirs Harambee Stars’ Nest

While the remuneration saga has been going on for the last few weeks now, Dennis Oliech’s retirement threat seems to have finally caught the football world’s attention.  A brief history of this is that, East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL) through its flagship brand  Tusker confirmed sponsorship of the national football team Harambee Stars in anticipation of the Africa Cup of Nations 2013 qualifiers and the World Cup in 2014 in Brazil….all good so far…

Mariga, Oliech & Mugalia (Image that stirred the Hornet’s Nest) – www.futaa.com

As part of the agreement whose details have yet to be revealed but Harambee Stars Management Board seems to know, EABL were allegedly given rights to use the images of the national players as part of their promotional material to drive their brand communication.
Now that’s where the line becomes blurred.
Oliech came out openly in the use of his image (along with MacDonald Mariga & Ben Mugalia) for the Tusker promotion. FKF and the Harambee Stars Management Board accused him of his lack of loyalty to the national cause and sacrificing self to play for Kenya.

Players’ Endorsements & Players Dues
While some may argue that Dennis Oliech is a professional and should overlook the said endorsement fees, it calls to fore the use of Kenyan sports personalities and lack of proper remuneration and contractual commitments.
Looking at the EABL/Tusker sponsorship, that brand generates millions in sales and even if they might not feel inclined to pay the individual players, it would be presumed to be part of the KShs. 110 million committed. Sponsorship fees made by Kenyan corporate firms are usually committed to the national teams or otherwise but most of these funds never actually trickle down to the players and if they do, its miniscule.
Enter Football Kenya Federation, though in office for only a few months, they have not entirely endeared themselves to the national team players. Already one of the best goalkeepers in Arnold Origi announced his retirement last year after Kenya’s failure to  qualify for Africa Cup of Nations in 2012. MacDonald Mariga also complained about non-committal arrangements in refund of his air-flight tickets for national team engagements. Read in interesting article here on national team players’ welfare.
If you look at the complaints they are coming from the professional players who interact with other players in the European leagues. Thus they would have an idea of what they are claiming to be their rightful dues.
Back to FKF, we know that players have often turned up for national engagements without allowances for months on end. That a few players don’t mind playing for Harambee Stars even if they’re paid a pittance are supposed to be old stories.

To bring this rant to a logical end,

  1. EABL and FKF should ensure they outline the details of the sponsorship agreement, even if they have to disclose such details as who gets what and promotional material usage etc.
  2. Also Kenyan corporate firms, it’s about time you paid up a little more to our Kenyan sports personalities. 
  3. Kenyan and other corporate firms, when making any commitment to sports activities, remember at the final end the players welfare is paramount. Without this, the end consumer that you target will be a disillusioned lot and that’s not what your brand(s) stand for.
  4. Its about time Kenyan football players formed a Players’ Association. And if there is one then it’s not doing its work. Player grievances and issues such as player contracts, players remuneration, injuries, agents’ activities and all others relating to players should be addressed through a common voice. This will ensure you have a strong bond and common purpose to realising the interests of players.

It is OFFICAL – Alcohol Bill in Kenya ends Sports Sponsorships

With the signature appended on the paper, Kenya’s Pres. threw the alcohol industry into a new era. Gone will be the creative ads that have graced your screens, radios and billboards among others; your favourite drink will have larger imprints warning you of the harmful effects alcohol is likely to have on your health and that of your future generations.
In an earlier post, we had lamented about this given the amount of sponsorship and support accorded to sport by alcohol manufacturing firms in the country and the region too. Some firms seem to have read the script early and EABL in some mind-boggling changes dropped sponsorships from rugby, football and the premiere sport they have always supported, golf. (Wonder what happened to Tusker Sports…)
The tragedy for sport is that now more than ever there is need for companies to support this budding industry. The challenge though is seen in the form of companies being forced to enter into what some like to call CSR activities and also the sports federations developing very tight proposals for the companies they wish to target to approach for this.
If the Minister of Youth Affairs and  Sports is to be believed then let’s hope to have robust sports industry….

EABL: Tough choices, what is happening?

After severing what was their major sports events, it seems there is some imbroglio at one of Kenya’s biggest corporate firms. East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL as it were ) have seen their sports sponsorship diminish in the last one year and their influence in sport come to a mere trickle.From the controversial Tusker Athletics meet (which wanted to model around the Grand Prix events of Europe) to the more recent Sevens withdrawal, a major shift has been in the making. We cannot not speculate here what informs some the decisions but it raises issues. Tusker Sports-the sports marketing arm of EABL has reduced drastically its influence in sports. If you believed so much in a sport, what would be so bad for the abrupt withdrawal?
Secondly, what informs a sponsorship decision? This comes especially with regards to the athletics meet. This ought to have been a soft drink or health drink at that. The best EABL would have done is use Alvaro which again has seen a decline in market share with the entry of Novida from Coca-Cola.
Third, it seems with the change of management, there are a few feathers to ruffle. Mahinda departure has seen some fairly controversial decisions not just relating to sports but even in the region. Price changes (increases at a time when your consumers are really squeezed for cash), partnership disputes ( the Tanzania Breweries and Serengeti ‘politics’), to a lackluster reality show in the name of Tusker Project Fame (which some named Tusker Project Shame).
Branding gurus who engage in valuation of the brands will show the figures at the end of the year and if not wrong, some of the EABL brands will see a decline in their size and influence. Maybe it’s the lull before a storm, maybe there is something brewing, just maybe !

Rugby : Safaricom spices things a little more in sports

After a shocked earlier this month when EABL withdrew from the rugby circles in a huff, another premiere corporate grabbed onto the opportunity and has made a serious commitment to the Sevens tournament and the sport in general.
First comes the Ksh. 25 million for next year’s 7s – KSh. 22 million for the tournament proper and KSh. 3 million for setting up the media center. A concern was whether they would sign the contract for more than 1 year which they did confirming a 3-year deal and the incremental factor after every year.

Another interesting aspect is the involvement of Safaricom Foundation which is the Corporate Social Responsibility (sic) arm of Safaricom Limited. The foundation in consultation with KRFU will seek to upgrade the grounds at the RFUEA to international standards. Now that ought to take serious consideration but if they make true their promise, application to the IRB Sevens Circuit can be made in earnest.
The other interesting thing with KRFU seems to be having local companies raise the stakes in sponsoring local sports which is a big boon to sport. The trickle-down effect to the players and the local league is something that will help enhance and encourage our boys to play their hearts out.
Given rugby 7s entry into the Olympic circles, we can only roll up our sleeves and let some serious work start if we shall challenge for the podium. Let the games begin…!

Surfing Sevens !

(Photo by Daudi Were)
Over the weekend Kenya entertained a host of teams who came forth to play the Safari Sevens which formed the foundation of one of the blossoming sides of the game in the IRB Series. Most of the Kenyans would applaud this which I would to given the height it has taken the game to.

But I believe we are becoming complacent in the event.
Why do we need to keep inviting sides which we know all too well we are going to beat? Why have the Emerging Boks from South Africa instead of engaging the Springboks proper? We can not claim to be competitive when playing lower cadre teams.
Secondly I think most of the corporate sponsorship which came by was misplaced. Everyone wants to the ‘official’ this or the ‘official’ that…there was almost Official Air-supply for the Tournament . What these corporates need to do is negotiate with the KRFU and see how they can commit to a certain aspect of the tournament. Say for instance, sponsor air tickets for visiting teams. This way we can see more competition and meaningful sponsorship.
Thirdly, I think it’s about time, the organisers looked into expanding the venues to accomodate bigger crowds and also improve the surrounding infrastructure. The chaos that characterises the venue and the roads leading to the venue are despicable. If the KRFU is to hope to host the Safari Sevens as part of the IRB circuit, they must look into this.
This leads me to ask if they are waiting for a miracle or have they beckoned the IRB for inclusion in the circuit. Though we are some way into the top 4 teams of the IRB Sevens series, we can start working towards inclusion. This can be justified with the continued improvement in the teams’ performance and the passion of the players. We can’t say we have a local professional league yet to develop the talent needed for the same but we are some way into it, that’s KRFU’s job again. The lads need to become proper professionals and teams can work around developing the game by having 7s teams in their roster.
That much said, we need to look beyond pleasing local fans and having one drunken weekend. As Tall said, the challenge now for the team is maintaining the performances we have seen in the last 2 seasons. It will be harder now since teams will be on the look-out for us.
Over to you, Mr Omwela !

Alcohol Bill: Are we fed up with investing in Kenya?


While I’m increasingly fed up with politicos in Kenya generally, I guess these guys have a way of into our skins than we thought. If not asking for more money for their bloated habits,they are busy greasing each other’s hands to get this or that Bill or sanction passed or dropped. They have become busy protecting their turf’s which are barely having any grass. But if what they are prescribing in the so-called Alcohol Bill is anything to go by, we can as well close shop and hand ourselves to the dryers! 

How do you prescribe to ban ALL forms of advertising relating to alcohol? From sponsorship deals, to the advertising in the media and any related form such as ‘corporate social responsibility’ will suffer from the
 ban. You’re looking at investments worth over Ksh. 1 billion ( EABL spent KSh. 902 million in
 advertising alone last year coming in 3rd in the top 10 of monies spent in advertising in the country). Who comes up with this stuff anyway?
If the guys who draft these things are out of areas to pursue, they can talk a walk downtown Nairobi and see the realities of our harsh life in the City. 
And if they are trying to reduce the intake of alcohol, WRONG MOVE !True the trends we are seeing in the country need checking but banning ALL adverts won’t change that. I’m remi

nded of what the US did in the 1920s & 30s declaring alcohol and tobacco ‘sin products’ and banning their sale. They became contraband and such attractive business for crime rings that they eventually had to revised the stand. Economic woes including the 1929-30s Great Depression did not save the situation ( can you see the similarities with what we are facing?)
Imagine not having the Safari Sevens, the Tusker Golf Open, the Kenya football team(however bad they play they are still Kenyans) without any branding on their shirts? Let’s not give this thing a chance,I’m sure the companies affected will not take this lying down.
Truly our politicians have outdone themselves this time !