Safari 7s at 17 … 3rd time over with Safaricom

For many of us the number 17 marks quite a sobering moment in one’s life. Be it that you’re just under an year from the age of the majority ( with a superfluous definition of youth to boot…), have cleared high school and waiting to join university or college or depending on which country you come from, have attained your driving license ( and for some your legal drinking age…in Kenya it still is 18 years as Mututho would remind us).
Well for Kenya Rugby Union’s prized possession in Safari Sevens or better #Safari7s, this will be the 17th edition of the biggest 3-day rugby tournament in East Africa. For those not particularly familiar with the shorter version of the game, it happened on the scene a little into the 1990s and Kenya was quick to adopt it and has borne fruits albeit with mixed results. Not to underestimate Kenya’s contribution to the game but our very own Humphrey Kayange was part of the team that rooted for the inclusion of the 7s version to the Olympic Games sports. This shall debut in 2016 in Rio, Brazil.
Back to #Safari7s, this year the tournament will be used once again to gauge the national team’s players preparedness for the 2012/13 season. It shall also mark the national team’s head coach Mike Friday’s first ever outing with his charges and what better way than right here at home in front of the Kenyan crowds.
And right from the selection, there is a distinction that this is not your usual style of play and every player will have to fight for his place in the national team when the IRB 7s circuit starts in October in Australia’s Gold Coast.
There will be 2 other national sides from Portugal and Spain that will also be using the tournament to prepare their teams for the IRB 7s circuit. There is also the Samurais who have a number of New Zealand’s All Blacks’ players. This year’s IRB series is slightly different in the sense that emerging countries’ teams that drop from their previous ranking , there will be a relegation/promotion system. This means that every tournament and point counts. No more poor finishes, no more dropping the ball and no more excuses waiting for the future.
Against this backdrop and the fact that the national KRU 7s circuit has just come to an end and emerging talent being ingrained into the team, we should not expect anything less than the main prize. It may not be too much to ask as the team was eliminated last year in the semi-finals. These are by-gones and the new management team should get the win to get the team into its stride of an expected better performance in the 2012/13.

Mobile provider Safaricom once again are the title sponsors for the 3rd year running and its 2nd year at a stadium setting ( at Nyayo National stadium). The tournament has become one of the biggest sporting event for Kenyan sports fans and once again, the crowds are expected to mill the ground. Though security concerns have been expressed in recent spates in the country, over 500 security officers from both public and private firms have been contracted to ensure the tournament sails on well.
It shall be no less for us and shall be on the sidelines to watch and cheer our Kenyan team(s) along. We hope you do make time too in this 3rd weekend of September ( teachers’ strike, lecturers’ boycotts and doctors’ downing their stethoscopes notwithstanding…)

For more detailed information, go to www.safarisevens.com or follow their Twitter handle @safaricom7s or check the hash-tags #Safaricom7s or #Safari7s

Rugby in Kenya – All that Glitters is NOT GOLD…but please put the SHINE BACK!

Up until late last year, the rugby fraternity had been one of the best managed sports federation in Kenya in any of the country’s sporting disciplines. It had ( and continues) attracting major corporate sponsorship and has slowly edged to the upper echelons of sporting excellence thanks in large to the role the Kenya 7s team has played in increasing our visibility both local and international.


Charlatans?
But with such exposure comes the very REAL possibility of attracting charlatans and hawks busy to reap where they didn’t sow. It is also characteristic of one of Kenya’s tragedy both in public and private business where those in charge are busy thinking of what is there to take out instead of being part of revenue and income generation.
When the new office at Kenya Rugby Union came into place, many were happy to see some smooth transition between former office bearers and current holders, another rare feat in Kenya’s sporting bodies. But some were not entirely impressed and those in the rugby circles claim that seeing a former official from the ‘mtaa clubs’ ( apparently rugby clubs also have their own classification thanks to inheriting our former colonial masters social structures) taking over top office was  not amusing. Again it was felt that rugby had ‘crossed over’ to those without the rich and deserved heritage of the game in Kenya. On that one, the jury’s still out there…
But over time, heads started rolling along with the usual semantics played to the media about making the game more professional as well as appealing to the lesser known parts of the country. There was also the quick change made to the Kenyan rugby calendar which still didn’t raise much noise. Among the events affected was its premiere event the Safari 7s.


Crux
Then came the clincher when the KRU officials and organisers decided to shift the Safari 7s from its traditional home at the RFUEA Grounds along Ngong Road to the Nyayo National Stadium. This caused all sorts of noises from rugby purists and more discomfort to the organisers. But the beauty of having corporate backing is the financial and logistical muscle they can muster. And the event passed on without incidence and those in attendance loved the showpiece.
But the worms had to crawl out of the woodwork once it became apparent that there were some deals made under the table and the revenues coming from the Safari 7s seriously dented even after a reported improved attendance of about 19,000 fans for the 3-day extravaganza. The dailies were all too happy to splash these headlines as seen here.
Last weekend though brought more dissent from the clubs ( among them Kenya Harlequins,Homeboyz, Impala RFC, KCB RFC, Nondiescripts RUFC and Nakuru RFC) which opposed the expanded Kenya Cup which was to start last weekend and which now seems to be in limbo after these clubs formed what they call the ‘Rugby Enterprise Limited‘. Our informal discussions with rugby insiders inform us the expanded Kenya Cup would mean more fixtures for all the clubs especially to the Western region in Nyanza and Kakamega. Not that they wouldn’t do it but most clubs have not had much financial streams and sponsorship as much as the national side (both 7s and 15s) and it would put much strain to their meagre resources.
It is also seen by most as a some sort of impunity by top officials when clubs which had been relegated are suddenly back in the top fold, negating the role of the Kenya Cup knock-out fixtures and diminishing Eric Shirley’s significance.


Remedy
One of the quickest things that Kenya Rugby Union would have to do soonest is to ‘gorge out the rot from the wound before it makes their limb weak‘. By this we say call that Extra-ordinary General Meeting that has been pending and let clubs and officials alike iron out those issues before they become any worse. Not that it’s going to be the easiest thing to do, but once such mechanisms are in place they help avoid major schisms in the overall running of the Union.
Secondly, its is time that the Kenya Rugby Union started working and appearing to be a unit with the top officials having regular briefs say every 2 weeks to let the public and discerning rugby fan of the game’s going-ons. Bad PR is not good for any organisation worth its salt and the bad press the Union can be undone by such briefings. It is also sad that there seems to be leakage of information both true and false which makes it hard to know what works and what doesn’t.
Third, it would be fair to appease clubs and seek to understand their challenges and not necessary bull-dozing rulings or proposals to expand any of the tournaments or leagues. The very existence of the game is because of the league structures in place and once these break down, the rest is just a shell which amounts to nothing. Work to see the feeder programmes for the clubs are in place and the lower teams learn from more established sides.
Fourth, if the Kenya Rugby Union officials were uncomfortable with those running the day-to-day happenings at the Union’s office, they would have vetted them and those not found able asked to transition slowly to those  newly appointed. The minute you start ‘wrecking’ every known structure and establishing your own set, it shows hostility and even those not in the wrong will start viewing you with suspicion. The office’s staff are quickly deteriorating into some disillusioned personnel and that’s not the best way to start your 2011-12 year.
With the 7s team about to start the IRB 7s 2011-12 circuit, there was the expected changes made both to the technical and actual team. It is tough to set a team and it is even tougher to hold one which needs to meet the expectations of its citizenry and the continent. The team has a tough call seeking to restore its place as one of the best sides not in the traditional top 4 of the IRB teams. Mind you the happenings at the office and the bad Press will most definitely affect their morale and game going forward.

And finally to the sporting fraternity in Kenya, do we always have to shoot ourselves in the foot when we have good thing going? And also when are we ever going to see corrupt and inept sports officials charged and hauled to courts and made to pay for their misgivings? Maybe when we see a few necks hung we shall be more careful with the way we run sport…

Safaricom Safari 7s 2011 – Hit or Miss?

This year’s Safari 7s in its second year under Safaricom’s sponsorship stable marked one of another’s Kenya major milestones on the sporting calendar (notice how Safari 7s and Safaricom 7s sound synonymous…?). We managed to spend at least a better part of the weekend following the action live and seeing the activity on both social and other media. Here’s our take;
Hit: Venue
Most of the controversy plaguing the event was the shift of the venue from its traditional home at RFUEA Grounds on Ngong Road to the more spacious ground at Nyayo National Stadium. The beauty of it was the space available for fans; service providers who included caterers, entertainment and parking lot. This was evident from the concert held on tail-ends of all days as they engaged the discerning younger-at-heart crowd. For security purposes too, the stadium was an easier venue for the security apparatus though at times the security personnel got over-zealous in their searches.
The pitch was a little bumpy of course due to the fact that it hosts most of the Kenya Premier League games but it was well-maintained and the markings and extensions done in good time to save rugby players adjusting. The warm-up areas were also a welcome relief for all teams before and after each game.

Miss: VIP, Canopy please?
For those who paid a little extra for VIP, except for the plastic seats and some partial cover from stadium setting, there really wasn’t much else to write home about. In fact some of those who were at the ‘Russian stands’ seemed to enjoy more of the happenings on the grounds. Also when it came to the elements, majority of the crowd was exposed especially when the rains descended on the grounds on Sunday. For future events, event organisers can source some form of canopies which can be drawn and retracted as and when necessary.

Hit: Ticketing
For sometime now the ticketing for the event had been on an upward movement but somehow the crowds still managed to make way to the former venue. Maybe it was the mystic of the game or the euphoria related to the Kenya Sevens team. This year, the ticketing was well-tiered, affordable and also offered various points of purchase. Some are of the opinion that the prices should go down further but economies of scale and recouping for organisers and KRU suggest otherwise.

Miss: Top Teams, Main Guest
While we saw the likes of Samoa in town to the Samurais and Auckland Vikings (who make up much of the Fijian and New Zealand national 7s teams), it would have been better to have more IRB circuit teams on board. We have also seen the likes of Chester Williams, Gordon Tietjens to name but a few who have proved to be star attractions for those who follow the international game. It had been rumoured that there would be a big name coming but alas.

Hit: Media Centre
For those who got lucky to access the media centre, it had a great working environment. Equipped with handy laptops with fairly good Internet speeds, the place was always a buzz with activity. Save for a few big egos who hogged workstations for hours on end, those who were in it for their professional jobs found a quick way to upload information, images and keep those not at the venue abreast with the developments. Also compared to last year’s one, this one didn’t suffer from the elements when the weather suddenly pulled suprises on all. Kudos too to the catering teams for keeping the media peoples well-fed & watered!

Miss: Kenyan Team not making the Finals
Well, this was not entirely suprising for any follower of the national team. This was the first outing for the technical team marshalled by one Mitch Ocholla (Twitter handle @mokojolo) deputised by Charles Cardovillis. Both individuals have their work cut out now from this showing. Also the boys in the team were slow off the blocks due to minimal play since the team reassembled. There were individual touches and plays but as a team, there is lots of work to be done. The Gold Coast Sevens fixtures are real baptism of fire, but if that’s not what you need I don’t know what else you will.

Hit: Time Management
Most tournaments and events of such magnitude usually fail largely to lack of time management. Many who came thinking that fixtures and games would be delayed due to one reason or the other were shocked. Except for the last day when the downpour almost made it impossible for the pitch, the games went on and finished on time. Day 2 and Day 3 being the main attraction were well-managed and ended in good time. The Final was held and done by 6p.m.( even the trophy presentation too). Kudos to KRU on this one!

Miss: Corporate Sponsors Lost?
Some of the corporate sponsors had some great banners and logos on the communication both on print and other media. But most did not utilise it to the best of their abilities. This is a question posed to marketing and brand managers, when you seek to sponsor a major event of such magnitude surely you don’t expect the event organisers to also ‘sell your communication’ and/or ‘promote your products’. Still on corporate sponsors, where were the Brand Kenya and other bodies promoting Kenya as a destination ?

Hit: Live Coverage:
For some who had thought the ball had gone from SuperSport, how wrong you were! They not only brought in some of their best hands in broadcasting but also had the games live on SS9 throughout the tournament. And for those who managed to catch it, it was a beautiful sight to behold. We had our own gents and ladies handling the pre and post-game interviews (including one Herbert Mwachiro @herbotawa & a lady who’s name eludes me, but has a great voice and looks to match…)

Some Hope:
– Hoping to stage a circuit leg in the IRB Sevens Series , this is a step in the right direction, but a lot more needs to be done. Majorly attracting bigger teams, attracting more fans and also more investment by corporate sponsors. This will make it easier to attract and pay for premium services and promises to give a boost to event organisers.
– Still on the venue, some die-hard fans felt that the game’s been taken away from them, since the playing area was slightly further from the fans stands. The same comment too came from some of the players. But this being a first, we shall hope to see more fans streaming in next year to give it that electric aura. And as one Mr. Jack Ojiambo ( he of Capital FM 98.4 Jazz Club) said, each one of the participants took something with them and shall be ambassadors of the event wherever they go across the globe. 
– Also there were some unconfirmed reports that rugby authorities might consider taking the Safari 7s to Kasarani which is almost complete from renovations. We hope it is just that because another change of venue will surely see fans down to a trickle and display apathy to new settings.
All in all ,we enjoyed ourselves and hope the Kenyan rugby 7s team now embarks on some serious rebuilding to get their act together by 25th November to start the challenge for 2011-2012 IRB Sevens Series. Over to you Mitch and the Co!

For some interesting images from the weekend action check this link , http://japho1.blogspot.com/

November 2011 – Sporting Bonanza

New month, new challenges, new opportunities. Yes, Kenyan sports scene is experiencing good things for this 2nd last month of the year 2011.

Safaricom 7s 

Rugby
And to start us off is one of Kenya’s premiere events the Safari 7s which saw it changed from the usual mid-year period to November so as to align with the IRB 7s circuit which starts end of November 25-26th in Australia. Riding on the back of a new management team as well as loaded sponsorship deals, it will be a defining season for the Kenyan team which seeks to regain its touch as one of the best playing units outside traditional rugby powerhouses. 3-5th of November make a date with Kenyan team as it seeks to start 2011-12 season on winning note.

Football
After missing 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, Kenya starts her journey for the FIFA World Cup to be held in Brazil in 2014. This is against a backdrop of major changes in the sport mainly the Kenya Football elections which brought in new office bearers and new body Football Kenya Association. The national team also got one of its former handlers, Francis Kimanzi ( currently managing KPL side Sofapaka). 11th November make a date with Harambee Stars as they starts this arduous journey.
On the regional front, CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup starts on 24th November to 9th December 2011. This has Cup has eluded the national team for the last 9 years and this could be a nice way to warm the boys up for World Cup qualifiers and also rise up FIFA Rankings.
At a local level though the Kenya Premier League comes to its final leg as teams seek to represent Kenya in continental challenges. It has been another competitive year for the SuperSport-sponsored league which has enjoyed increased interest from local football fans and TV alike.

Volleyball
The Kenyan women’s team is back in Japan to represent Africa in the FIVB Women’s World Cup. Since it is not their first outing, we are hoping the ladies can finally muster some steel and win a game or two to place Africa’s representative at a better place. Being the highest ranked women’s team from Africa on the FIVB World Rankings ( currently at 15th place), it will not be an easy ride brushing with top sides such as Brazil and Germany.

Basketball

Kenyan Basketballimage courtesy of  www.nation.co.ke

The Kenya Basketball Federation Premier Leagues come to an end. This season has seen some resuscitation of sorts with the #FridayNightBasketball building a good fan base which is seeing some basketball streaming back to the Nyayo National Basketball gym. The Friday games have organised courtesy of Kenya Basketball Federation, CodeRed DJs – an entertainment outfit which is making entreaties into sports events management and has some sponsorship from GM Kenya. Unconfirmed reports intimate Zuku has developed some interest in screening the games on its ZukuTV.
Catch these games in every weekend culminating with the Finals last week of November or early December. In those news, those of you who love the NBA are surely hoping the lock-out can be quickly resolved for what looks a torrid season for this league which is any basket-baller’s dream.

Athletics

New York Marathon 2010image courtesy of AP

The World Marathon Majors continues on with New York Marathon scheduled for 6th November at “The Big Apple”. With Kenyan marathoners enjoying one of their best seasons so far, it will be good to see who runs with this one. Last year’s second placed, Emmanuel Mutai starts as favourite for the men’s race but looking at the retinue and pedigree of Kenyan runners and Ethiopians chasing hard, it will be anyone’s day. In the women’s version, Mary Keitany will be hoping to add another WMM title after taking the London Marathon earlier this year.

Motor-Rallying
What is slowly becoming a laid-back and rallying relic in this part of the world, the East Africa Safari Classic Rally is back after one-year break. Featuring former world champions in motor rallying and cars that won the races back in the day, the rally will drive through parts of the East African states of Kenya and Tanzania (click this for East Africa Safari Rally Route map).
Some of the expected drivers include former winners of the earlier version include Bjorn Waldegaard, Ian Duncan, among others. The Rally starts on 19th November at the Sarova Whitesands finishing at the same venue on the 28th. For you who loves adventure and the beauty of the savannah, make time to trail these rally enthusiasts.

Whichever sport tickles your fancy, enjoy this and other sporting bonanzas from in and around the country. Cheer your favourite individual, team or country as the year rolls out another month.

Zuku making in-roads in Kenyan Rugby: Title Sponsors for Impala Floodlights 2011

Yesterday’s unveiling of official sponsor Zuku , continues the local (or it is regional yet?)multi-media’s company (Wananchi Group) in-roads in local sport. Starting with a suprise package last year of sponsoring the Kenya v/s Zimbabwe Victoria Cup tie and even securing screening rights, the media company has sought to change the sporting scene and is slowly making its mark especially in rugby. (…coincidentally in both cases, the sponsorship has been for the magical figure of KSh. 2 million each…)

ZUKU logo courtesy of www.zuku.co.ke

Rugby purists have not been entirely amused by these entreaties made to the Kenya Rugby Union since an earlier arrangement with SuperSport was seeing the Kenyan game getting more coverage and the sports media powerhouse was in the process of making substantial investment in the local game and production only for this to be dropped. Up until the writing of this post, it is not known who will screen Kenya’s premiere rugby event the Safari Sevens though title sponsors Safaricom have already confirmed their willingness to continue supporting the event.
Kenya Rugby officials need be informed that while it is good to have companies coming on board with the much-needed financial support, it is also fair to review and where possible NOT ANTAGONISE existing corporate sponsors. Our sources tell us there has been some tension among top officials due to this gung-ho way of conducting rugby business. It will be fair to evaluate existing support and negotiate for better terms with these firms rather than going behind their backs to find new partners.
This was part of the reason the move of the Safari 7s to Nyayo stadium has not augured well with the staunchest of supporters in rugby and by extension traditional rugby powerhouses (without naming any for now).

All the same, we applaud Wananchi Group through ZUKU for making their case with the 30th edition of the Impala Floodlights. We shall be watching your move as you engage in local sport and pray that your worthy support can continue to other sporting disciplines as well. You can also explore developing cutting-edge programming in sports for your local audience and clientele which is still deficient of any comprehensive sports magazines.

See y’all at the Impala Grounds for the next 4 weekends!

Kenya Rugby 7s Circuit….do we have the pedigree?

With the 4th round (Kabeberi Sevens) of a 5 rounds of the Kenya Rugby 7s series over at RFUEA yesterday, the Kenya Rugby Union officials and technical team for the national 7s team are almost set on who makes the cut.
There being a change in the Kenya Rugby Union to accommodate changes in the Safari 7s tournament among other major tournaments in the rugby calendar, it will be interesting to see how the players are able to adjust and pick themselves up from last year’s dismal performance at the IRB Sevens World Series circuit.

A lot has changed since the close of the season early this year, from a team of new officials to the new management team along with corporate sponsorships making positive entreaties to the game.

A provisional squad was named by new coach Mitch Ocholla and includes;

Dennis Muhanji, Kevin Keegan, Naftali Bondo, Nick Barasa, Patrice Agunda, Sydney Ashioya, Victor Oduor, William Ambaka(Quins); Collins Injera,Dennis Ombachi,Horace Otieno,Humphrey Khayange, LavinAsego, Mike Agevi ( Mwamba); Adrian Opondo, Felix Ayange, Michael Wanjala, Tony Onyango ( Strathmore); Andrew Amonde, Fabian Olando, Philip Wamae (KCB); Kennedy Moseti, Oscar Ayodi ( Homeboyz), Lawrence Buyachi, Peter Ocholla (Impala); Edwin Makori, Oscar Ouma (Nakuru); and Ben Nyambu, Charles Kanyi (Nondies).

New call-ups include Mike Agevi who completes a 3rd of the 3 rugby brothers Kayange and Injera , Adrian Opondo and Michael Wanjala of university outfit Strathmore which has been playing some of its best rugby among higher learning institutions and challenging the big boys too. It was also coached by Mitch Ocholla before his current new post.

It will be interesting to see how these players fare in the final 7s tournament in Mombasa at the Driftwood Sevens and how soon they can gel to be able to retain the Safari Sevens sponsored by Safaricom. It will be a good start to their IRB 7s calendar as we seek to get back to the top 6 7s playing nations.

IN OTHER NEWS:
During last week’s announcement by Safaricom 7s of their sponsorships of the Safari Sevens, the Kenya Rugby Union Chair had the pleasure ( tongue-in-cheek…tsk, tsk, tsk) of the shift from the traditional RFUEA Grounds along Ngong Road to the Nyayo National Stadium known more for its footballing and athletics hosting than rugby.
This was not too much of a suprise given the venue hosted the Kenya v/s Zimbabwe Victoria Cup game earlier this year.
The Kenyan social media critiques went into overdrive and even launched a Facebook page The Home for Kenyan Rugby is RFUEA not Nyayo . The merits given for the move was to demystify the game and make it more appealing to the common man. It was because the RFUEA Grounds have been stretched in the last couple of years with a bulging crowd which makes it a logistical nightmare.
The KRU Chair also added that if Safari Sevens is to challenge for consideration to be added in the IRB Sevens World Series calendar, there is need for a proper venue and the sampling is to be done at Nyayo Stadium.
We made a little more scrapping and we learnt these are the figures at current IRB 7s circuit venues;

1. Gold Coast 7s: – Skilled Park (formerly Robina Stadium) : 27,400 seater
2. Dubai 7s :- The Sevens (stadium) : 50,000 seater

3. South Africa 7s :- Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium : 48,000
4. Wellington 7s:- Westpac Trust Stadium: 36,000
5. US 7s :- Sam Boyd Stadium: 36,800 expandable to 40,000
6. Hong Kong 7s :- Hong Kong Stadium: 40,000
7. Japan 7s :- Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium : 27,188
8. Edinburgh 7s :-Murrayfiedl Stadium: 67,130
9. England/London 7s: – Twickenham Stadium: 82,000

If you look at all those venues, the lowest is at 27,188 in Japan where the game is taking root just like Kenya. Most of these are designed for multi-purposes hosting more than just rugby, with 5 specifically designed to host rugby games. Hope this helps KRU in its decision to approach infrastructural developers from private and Government circles.

Safaricom Safari Sevens – Final Take Out !

Though coming in late, we preview what our take on this budding rugby tournament that has slowly come of age. There was plenty to bite on over the 3 days that the sporting extravaganza was held at the RFUEA Grounds on Ngong Road. Allow us to fill you in;
a) Growth :- Starting from the 1990s, the event has seen its growth to become a major mark on the sporting calendar of the Kenyan scene. That the grounds could command numbers in excess of 10,000 for the last 2 days, is no mean feat. There are also the different invitations extended to the secondary and lower levels which is encouraging as these aspire to be the Injeras and Ademas of this world.
On stunted growth, it is fair to say that the competition has yet to attract competitive sides such as New Zealands All Blacks, Samoans or even the Springboks of South Africa on a regular basis. This is an area that the Kenya Rugby Union needs to work on to make it possible to competitively bid for a place in the IRB circuit series in case they extend the current 8 to a potential 10 or more tournaments – of course if they need more exposure for the game by 2016.

b) Infrastructure – the grounds were resplendent with lots of corporate colours from this or that company. This is a big boon and an even interesting prospect is the fact that there are some energy and resource saving solutions that are being explored by the corporate firms which see it not just as an investment but a way to utilise innovation – a case in point Lister Petter.
There is also the added value that new sponsors have brought on board investing in fan stands and other necessary structures to ensure the teams have a peaceful game on the pitch. Companies in Kenya must learn that sports MUST be part of their investment plans and NOT some CRS- corporate social responsibility programme – loathe that term !
The one worry though is that of the grounds were intended to host a bigger and more competitive, investing in bigger sitting space, better parking grounds, floodlights in case of playing on the early evening or night and such features. The security though improved can be better, as we saw on the last day when a streaker ran the full length of the pitch half-naked.

c) Media liaison and centre – It’s been awhile to see such well co-ordinated communication for the media and the centre for reporting and interview booths. Though the usual case of some prima donnas ( thanks to working for certain media organisations, some individuals definitely think they are bigger than life – the basics is to get the unattending fan to catch up on the game and get the job done – period. All else is just secondary….) who almost gave a bad name to the place, with the demands for this or that favour. There was also the case of constant reprieves from organisers for over-zealous cameramen – our own included. The idea of a ring around the main pitch separating the crowd from the media people is not a bad idea.
 Relating to live coverage and social media, there were constant updates from the SuperSport team as well as our own K24 which broadcast the game live. This is a plus for the game for future screening and if we do bid for the IRB circuit.  W e had the social media buzzing with updates from both Twitter accounts, Facebook updates and uploads as well as the blogging world ( including yours truly…)

d) Invitational teams – while we cheer our boys for winning the game, in retrospect we should be rooting for the developmental side or team B to have achieved better. If our national team is to have a feeder programme, the second-string team needs to be up to the standards. Its not a lost cause for the team ( Shujaa as it were) due to the fact that the team had not even trained together comprehensively for them to play in this tournament. As earlier said, we also need to get more competitive sides from the IRB circuit to come play before our fans – that way we get better value the money, both for the corporate firms and enthusiasm to continue coming for more.

e) Entertainment – while we enjoyed the lady dancers and acrobats on the pitch, could we have a wider variety – maybe some comedians like we had some time back with the Redykulass guys? Still on the same, while it may cost a little more, we could love to see some international act like we did sometime in 1997-8 with former Fugee Lauryn Hill making her presence felt on this East African city.

Overall it was a well-run tournament and big kudos for the team for giving us a vantage point to absorb the happenings. Good tidings for next year’s and future Safari Sevens.

Safaricom Sevens : Day 2 action ends on a high…

For you the Kenyan rugby fan ( OK that’s a really lame one), we’ve had another great outing with both Kenyan teams playing their hearts out. The only cause of alarm was the injury to Biko Adema knocking his knee and that’s missing the rest of the action and the Shujaa team losing to Grenoble. Seeing as it is the crowd didn’t care less and with the final game pitting Kenya and Les Blues – the French side, it was a nice way to end the day.
The fans have been electric with the ‘Green Bay’ – the new Safaricom-built fan stands providing a superb backdrop for the cheering lot. Tis hoping the weather respects the 3rd and final day of action, keep it here for the updates…meanwhile enjoy the clips of the famous Kenyan crowd courtesy of Safaricom 7s page…www.facebook.com/safaricom7s

Safaricom Safari 7s: Day Two: Kenya wallops Samurai 46-0

The mood electric, weather just right….drinks flowing, and it can’t get better, Kenya’s main team starts with a BANG! You are missing the action, you don’t know what you are missing…keep it here as we give you the updates from the pitch and the ongoings on the stands…

Safaricom Safari Sevens – Keeenyaaa !

After a somewhat disappointing season in the IRB Sevens circuit , the Kenyan fans welcome the boys home and hope to crown the season by winning this novel tournament. The tournament celebrating its 14th consecutive year shall also be marking a new milestone by having the new sponsors mobile phone company, Safaricom Limited, hence a rather interesting name Safaricom Safari Sevens.
The event has been a major sporting extravaganza over the 3-day period that its held and is amust for any rugby fan (though some purists may differ with us) and city sports fan looking for a weekend of fun and socialising beyond the normal clubbing scene that’s all too common in Nairobi.
Due to the exposure the team has gotten from the IRB 7s, the rugby crowds have continually become big with the recently held Bamburi Super Series and Kenya Cup bearing witness to this. The performance of the 15-a-side team though has a long way to go to match their 7s counterparts but there is room for improvement.
The same must be said of the 7s team which witnessed some lacklustre performances in Twickenham , Scotland and London, England as the IRB circuit came to a close. Kenya Rugby Union officials and the technical bench surely have some work to do before the start of the 2010/11 season in December where we hope to retain the no.6 ranking achieved in the 2008/9 season if not better.
We cannot forget that the game has borne some of the best rugby players locally including, Sammy Khakame, Benjamin Ayimba, Oscar Osir, and the current crop ably led by the Injera brothers ( I hear the youngest in their family’s also making a knock on to the senior side)
We can join our boys as they make their homecoming trip and look forward to a worthy weekend. The team shall use the tournament to weed out any poor performances and also prepare for the Commonwealth Games to be held later this year in New Delhi, India. We also hope the Kenya Rugby Union can make a bid for inclusion in the IRB circuit { if and when they make an addition(s) to the current 8 tournaments }.
Surely if we are to make a mark in the inaugural sevens inclusion in the Olympics in 2016, we need to start working on it NOW ! We shall be reporting live from the venue and big kudos to Safaricom for sponsoring the tournament and making an impact in the sport. We also thank the organisers for availing us the platform to cover the event and its peripheral activities.  Come let’s cheer our boys, KEEENYAAA….