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.


Kenya’s Best Commonwealth Outing – Our Future looks Bright…

Thanks to our athletes our very modest predictions have been clearly outdone and that’s great to note. The success of the outing is a great motivator to future generations engaging in sport – at least now we can build on something and not rest on our laurels.
Though major sporting nations were not represented, this didn’t stop our sportsmen putting on a good showing and going the extra mile to ensure they challenged the pecking order of Commonwealth nations. This was our best outing ever at the Club Games and we shall shine the spotlight on a few of the sportsmen/women we thought did a great job out there;

1) Jason Dunford (Gold Medal 50m Butterflystroke) – Without any doubt, he is edging his place into the history books from his international outings. Coming from a non-traditional country in the swimming circles and also given the fact they we do not have the right facilities, the gods have been good to their cause with the university (Stanford) providing a great training ground. The family has also been more than supportive helping ensure the boys get training facilities in Europe which have been well tested. His past African and Olympic exploits are coming to fruition and still rising.
If those who award national awards are listening those Elder of the Golden Heart and Moran of the Burning Spear should not be awarded to taciturn and bureaucratic civil servants and politicians, these are the people who deserve them.
Verdict: 5 Stars

2) Nancy Jebet Langat( 800m & 1500m Gold )-At the 2008 Olympic Games, Kenyans read the headlines of a double gold medal win – one from the 800m men’s contest by the more flamboyant and captain of Kenyan team Wilfred Bung’ei. The other gold was from the then little known Nancy Jebet -who’s so unassuming other athletes underestimate her tenacity. Well this year she springs another suprise by doing a double in yes her speciality the 1500m and 800m. Some may say that the top athletes in the distance in the likes of Pamela Jelimo, Janeth Jepkosgei and South Africa’s Caster Semenya were not around but who cares? She did her bit and was rewarded for that.
Verdict: 5 Stars

Mark Mutai just makes it – courtesy of Nation.co.ke

3) Mark Kiprotich Mutai (400m Gold Medal & 4x400m silver ) – having shown some great sprint work at the African Athletics Championships and being denied a bronze medal in the individual 400m race he made it even sweeter stretching the Australian in the 400m and winning by the slimmest of margins. He also anchored the 4x400m relay team and scorched the track and missing the gold but settling for second-best.
Verdict: 4 Stars


4) Milcah Cheywah, Mercy Wanjiru Njoroge, Gladys Jerotich Kipkemoi (3000m Women’s Steeplechase Gold , Silver & Bronze )  theirs may have seemed like an easy race but when you come up and decide to share the spoils between yourselves and annihilate the competition from the other countries, that’s no mean achievement. The water obstacle and how one jumped as they said is what won the race and  Milcah led the way for a Kenyan 1-2-3 sweep.
Verdict: 3 Stars

5) Irene Kosgei & John Eriku Elai ( Women & Men’s Marathon Gold ) – waiting for an event till the last day in the humid conditions of the Indian sub-continent is not an easy thing. It also doesn’t help when all your role models are busy winning the marathons in more lucrative races as the Boston, Berlin marathons portend. But the two decided to run their races and the former Irene led another Irene ( Mogake) into a 1-2 for the Commonwealth race.
Verdict: 3 Stars


6) Boaz, Richard and Abraham Kiplagat(not related) (800m Gold,Silver and Bronze) slowly making up for lost ground are the men’s 800m athletes who are trying to emulate the 1980s & 90s exploits of Billy Konchellah, Paul Ereng and William Sigei. They did this with style getting another 1-2-3 sweep.
Verdict : 3 Stars

Grace Momanyi – courtesy of Flickr

7) Grace Momanyi ( Gold Women 10000m) & Silas Kiplagat (1500m Gold) – She and Doris Chepkwemo gave Kenyans another 1-2 finish which continued the trend of the Kenyan athletes in the Games. Same case to Silas Kiplagat leading James Kiplangat in the 1500m race.
Verdict: 3 Stars


Special Mentions:
– Grace Wanjiru – 20 Km Bronze medallist
– Richard Mateelong  & 3000m Steeplechase medallists
– Benson Njangiru – Silver Medallist – Flyweight
– Rugby Sevens Team ( very modestly here for beating Samoa at most)


By close of the Games, Kenya topped the athletics medal table  11 Gold, 10 Silver & 9 Bronze medals( ahead of South Africa and Nigeria…hehehe) and that’s a great achievement. As said there earlier, if the Kenyan authorities were to be genuine enough in awarding national honours, these are some who deserve to be on that roll.  We had also kept our forecast realistic but they have proved they have what it takes to be at international meets.

Brand Kenya too needs to wake from the slumber (though we are told someone is working on it….imagine someone in India remembers Maurice Odumbe even after we sacrificed him on the corridors of justice….tragic!)

Kenya v/s Uganda 0-0 :12th man doesn’t get his money’s worth

It was to be a clash of monumental proportions, a decisive tie for Kenya but the show never happened. Well for those of us who braved the scorching sun to make our way into the stadium, lots of disappointment and unmet expectations.
The Ugandans had promised to come in their bus loads and they did. By last count there were twenty 49-seater buses with more minibuses (some parked in town due to heavy traffic on Uhuru Highway) and numerous personal vehicles. Oh by the way it was Independence Day today and maybe that’s why they should up in their numbers.
They said that it was the 12th man who would make victory ours. That we did and the droves of fans had streamed in from 10 a.m. As we made our way into the stadium, some not interesting sights of Kenyans ‘cutting queues’ and security hired for the day (G4S…Ponyoka na $$$) and regular police kept allowing impatient & irritating guys who almost faced the wrath of fans who filed along well.
Onto the game and our boys looked a bit rusty and the Ugandans looked more technically able. They kept our defence on the back seat for the first 15min with good use of the flanks. We took time to get the game back and Mariga started lording it over the midfield but most of the other players around him kept waiting for him to make his move.
The best chance of the 1st half was the dead ball situation which Mariga cut down through the wall but straight into the hands of the able goalkeeper who plays for SuperSport in South Africa.  Much of the action in the first half was not all that to write home about.
2nd half and the game Kenyans had gone to watch almost came to pass. With Mariga now making some nice exchanges with the rest of the players in the mould of  Edgar Ochieng, Victor Mugabe and Dennis Oliech.The worst bit was the fact that we didn’t quite utilize those chances. Another deadball situation and Mariga’s kick hit the post again.
Mid-way into the 2nd half and the Ugandas were back to their flanks and the right one looked like their favourite side. They saw more of the ball and they seemed content to cross them past our goal mouth. By the 80th minute, it looked like ours was a lost cause.
Man of the Match : Without a doubt, MacDonald Mariga – we qualify him as our captain, not because he is playing Inter or Europe but he has the calmness and ability to make the other players dig themselves in.
Plusses:
  •  Fans did come in their numbers without a doubt and the stadium was almost filled to capacity.
  • Ticketing was almost on point – no need of walking to the gates & monies collection points
  • Ban of bottled substances – we know what is usually in the bottles is not the stuff meant to be in those bottles. They also serve as missiles when fans when they get discontented with play on the field.
  • Fair security – Fair because their presence kept the crowd in check
  • Weather – beyond our control but yes it was nice to have the sun shining on our brows
Drawbacks:
  • The fans who were to be the 12th man at times kept mum only coming back when the Ugandans cheered along their team. We don’t seem to have a song or chant that unites the fans and no those political songs are so 2007. We should hire the rugby crowd next time.
  • Shall we see reciprocity of sorts from our Kenyan politicians and businessmen? The Ugandans travelled in true sports fans passion and their presence strengthened their team. Mike ‘Sonko’ , Mr. PM anyone?
  • Ticketing – while they insisted on not selling tickets at the venue, no arrangements were made for the visiting team fans. Even the VIP ones were totally sold out and the spaces filled out – disappointing if you paid that slight amount for money.
  • Lack of merchandise – The flags and wraps were good but since we don’t usually know the national colours worn at any particular time, we can’t stock up on the team shirts.
  • Security – Meant to help maintain law and order, they also were the part of the loopholes of people coming in without tickets. We counted over 10 people who ‘sneaked in’ even after we alerted them.
  • Parking- If the stadium is to maintain its international status; the Stadia Management Board must find some better space of parking for fans. International standards demand that only team vehicles, ambulances and fire engines and security vehicles should be anywhere close to the ground. Seeing the loads of buses too close to the stadium was a major concern. Thank God the score was as it was, Lord have mercy had Uganda won the game.
  • Technical expertise – the technical bench at times looked like they were waiting for reactions from the fans. Still on the same, please get a new captain, the current one didn’t seem to rally the players up even when the game was getting out of reach.
  • TV/Media Rights – the circus is truly NOT out of town when it comes to Football Kenya Limited and on Saturday they ensured that no media house screened the game thanks to the greed in selling the media rights. Our own media houses are not without blame for imagining that they can wait till the last minute to make a compromise bid. We hope both parties learned and moreso the Football Kenya who’s term is really living on borrowed time. 

Now that we have made life difficult for ourselves in qualifying for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, the rest of group games we MUST WIN (almost impossible) given we have an away game in Angola and another in Uganda- Kampala. Back to square one!

Africa Cup of Nations 2012 Qualification – Decisive Clash for Kenya

After the usual circus that is Kenyan national football, this weekend we welcome our neighbours Uganda who are riding high on their chances after beating Angola in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualification ties. With the fixture looking all more important for Kenya it is being rumoured that none other than the Head of State Pres Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is expected to grace the match – to show allegiance and support to his side.

With the countries currently enjoying a hot-cold relationship with the rather peculiar controversy of ‘some rock’ on Lake Victoria and the renditions of Kenyan Muslim human rights over the Kampala bombings in July 2010, the temperatures are rising by the day. Also controversial is the fact that Kenya has changed tacticians once again bringing back Mr. Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee who though we respect his work might just end up as his predecessor Twahir Muhiddin.
Group J has Angola and Guinea-Bissau as the other teams. Let’s see what the game holds for us;

Strengths:
– Home ground – Being played before the home fans who have been streaming back to the stadiums to watch the local teams, there is bound to be overwhelming support for the Harambee Stars. What is lacking is the right ‘hype’ to fill the stadium and promote the fixture. By asking the top Government offficials, Mr Titus Kasuve is not enough.
– Professionals – Having the Oliechs and Marigas on the team who have been enjoying playing time on their respective European leagues is also a boon to the team. This though needs to translate to goals with at least 3 looking to ‘charge’ the team and fans to cloud 9.

Weaknesses:
– Nyayo National Stadium capacity – while it will be played at this ground, the capacity of the ground is limited to a little over 30,000 and any more than that is a crisis in waiting. We know what happens when the crowd is larger and passions up there. We can’t afford to be banned hosting future games on the grounds not now not ever!
– Team spirit- Losing to the minnows of the group dropped the team morale to a new low and there were media reports of team disunity. We also question the coach’s choice of Dennis Oliech ( all respects to him as a player). You need a more unifying factor in the team.
– Uganda’s flying start – Beating Angola who hosted the last Cup of Nations and were in the 2006 World Cup is no mean feat. The Ugandans have less than 5 players playing in the European leagues so they have something else inspiring their play.
– Consistency on the technical bench – if we have to win future games, there has to be some consistency on who sits on the technical bench. (We’re made to understand they appointed an assistant coach who’s currently in Europe studying, pray the head coach doesn’t get red-carded anytime soon….). If the FKL officials or whoever is in charge wants to do the country a favour, get the right people for the job or at least give them ample time to prove themselves. Create the right working environment and please get some contracts done and no playing with allowances or other financial obligations. You have more than enough funds from FIFA to bankroll this.

Our Uganda brothers are really excited about this fixture as you can see here and yes let’s keep it on the pitch (as written by Daily Monitor’s Mark Ssali) Come 9th October and let’s see the boys put on a good show and get 2012 preparations back on the road. Haraaambeee !

Sports Business in Kenya – Budding Investment

Thanks and appreciation to all who contacted us (so far) on the sports marketing and business industry in the country. It is a good thing to note that the Kenyan sporting scene has started appreciating the need for professionalising sports. There are quite a number of firms engaged in sports management, sports events management and branding in sports. There are also sports marketing firms which have specialised in various sports disciplines but are hoping to diversify their offering.

Kenyan Sports – Getting Paid at Last ?

From initial feedback, the main sports in consultancy are athletics, football and rugby. Secondary ones include cricket,volleyball, swimming and basketball. The figures in the sponsorship are our closest aim to the findings. This shall be tabulated soon and we shall hope to inspire our sports specialists to invest more in sport as we look to being a major sporting nation in the continent and the world – our rightful place.

2010 Africa Athletics Championships : AK, PLEASE GET SERIOUS !

Kenyan athletics has for the longest time remained one of the most successful sports discipline in the country and with this comes the added bonus of prosperity and expectations. Being managed by one of the richest (if not the richest) sports body in the country, it is thus a joke to find it hard to get things rolling for the continental championships to be hosted in Nairobi July 28th – August 1st 2010.
The team headed by the current chair who’s served for the longest time ever can do better than it currently is.
According to media reports, our own prominent athlete Paul Tergat has asked the Local Organising Committee led by its CEO David Okeyo – who also doubles up as the AK’s Secretary General – to redouble their efforts for putting up a worthy show in the next 2 months.
That they usually reprimand organisers of local athlete meets and roadshows is sure the standard they can set for themselves. The goodwill enjoyed from most corporate organisations, the Government and the Sports Stadia Management Board (that which has been dithering though in renovating Nyayo Stadium – venue of the championships)is enough to put something respectable in place.
They also have the experience of hosting the annual cross-country events and national trials which are good testing grounds. AK also successfully hosted the 2007 World Cross-Country Championships.
That said, they can always seek the Paul Tergats and Martin Keinos of this world who have over the years shown proficiency in managing athletics brands and events. The annual Sports Personality of the Year Awards -SOYA’s such a case.
Get working people and DON’T let us down!
You can follow African Athletics here.

Out Goes Virgin Air, In Come Kenya Airways

With rugby slowly trying to upstage athletics as the more lucrative sport in terms of sponsorship, the weekend was another milestone especially for the 7s. Kenya Rugby Football Union (KRFU) penned a deal with Kenya Airways to be their official shirt sponsors to the tune of KSh. 15 million for 2 years.

Logo courtesy of Kenya Airways

Out with the old and in comes the new. After seeing the mileage Virgin Atlantic gained by having the Kenyan boys wear the shirts, it was only natural that once Virgin’s deal was over, a major Kenyan firm would take over. The package includes flying the team across the different cities (where possible). Good thing going thus far !
My concern though is the fact that we had to wait and see what Virgin would do (and gain) then we reacted to that. Why does it take foreign companies to realise that we can do more to sport than we currently are? There is just enough to spend on sport that would go a long way in changing the course for most these and the participants.
I also hope the boys keep their feet on the ground and grace us with some outstanding performances this time gunning for the top 4 finish in the IRB circuit (and hopefully a series win or two!).Ayimba kazi kwako !
Let’s see more proactive corporates come forward. 2010’s bound to be an interesting year for sport !

Usain Bolt :- Athletics’ biggest star finally lands


Usain Bolt during an interview with renowned Kenyan TV personality and K24 anchor, Jeff Koinange – on his bench.

Finally he’s landed. After reporting this first ( with a threat from a few guys who thought we were pulling their legs), Usain’s in town for the next 4 days for a couple of engagements relating to charities in the country and indeed the region.
He comes under Puma’s charitable works which include Zeitz Foundation; started by Puma’s billionaire Jochen Zeitz, which aims to work towards developing an eco-tourism site in Laikipia which is about 150 km North of Nairobi.
Tonight he is scheduled to attend a dinner at an invitations only event which is most likely to have the who’s who in the Kenyan public and private sector circles. Too bad yours truly may not have access to these trappings of the ‘esteemed’ in our society. We shall keep you posted on snippets of his trip as usual and follow him on Twitter (like we are) here !

Wanjiru’s Win Crowns a Great Week for Sports in Kenya

For the typical sporting enthusiast in Kenya, (minus the Kenyan football fans of course) it has been positive news.
First off is the inclusion of rugby in the 2016 Olympics to be held in Brazil ( the other addition being golf. The sport has seen phenomenal growth in the last 16 years since the IRB sanctioned the Rugby Sevens Series. Our team has featured actively since the early 2000s and has in the last two seasons seen outstanding performance causing this and that upset along the way. They even made it to the semi-finals of the 7s World Cup in Dubai last year.
Our second high point is the win of Samuel Wanjiru at the Chicago Marathon. His has been a meteoric rise into the world of athletics and marathon for that matter. He rose to fame last year after winning the one gold medal that had been eluding famous Kenyan runners. He also recorded a win in this year’s London marathon and he crowned his year with this win. Along with it is the booty reportedly first $250,000(appearance), $100,000(for win) and $75,000 ( for setting the course record,which he interestingly slushed just a second….)
Truly a great week!

Beach Volleyball in Kenya

Finally there seems to be somebody reading this blog (hehehe). Mombasa hosted a 2-day tournament for the the International Beach Volleyball Championships. The Kenyan government had even sponsored it to some Ksh. 1.07 million but they sent a junior official to officiate.
Ironically 2 countries without beaches -Rwanda and Uganda were in the finals in the men’s division and Uganda was again represented in the women’s finals. Though more regional than international, the tournament can raise interest and even become a major event in the Kenyan sports calendar. Our pedigree in volleyball is without doubt and we can offer some of the best beaches around.
These two can serve us well to encourage sports tourism as some means of adding extra packages to our tourism packages. I don’t see why we can conquer the rest of Africa in the sport too?

Check this previous post for additional reading…