Ingwe TV – Smart move or ill-advised?

There has been all the hullabaloo about the AFC Leopards-Ingwe TV deal with Zuku and the concerned club’s status with KPL’s sponsored by SuperSport. While the easier path is for KPL/SuperSport to feel infringed by the deal, it’s in the club’s interest to look for alternative sources of revenue and by extension engagement channels. The TV channel which is supposed to screen 36 episodes of half-hour each covering past games, interviews, team news and historical journals. If anything, it has been SuperSport and KPL’s personnel sleeping on the job for lack of initiative to engage local clubs on setting up their own TV channels.

Ingwe TV logocourtesy of www.afcleopards.net

Across the world, major football clubs have their own channels which serve to endear themselves to their fans and provide an added platform for not just engaging with them but also for sponsors, advertisers and related parties to reach the audience.

The main bone of contention is that AFC Leopards playing in the SuperSport-sponsored KPL ( now Tusker Premier League) which sees it enjoy live coverage of their matches and also featured in the weekly football magazine Simba Soccer programme among others. Now if you look at it carefully, this is the same sort of engagement with other clubs in the KPL only that AFC Leopards ( and maybe 3-5 other clubs) would have a rich heritage as that of Leopards affectionately known as Ingwe by its fans.
And though AFC Leopards had earlier tried such a deal with Smart TV before it went under, it is a veritable decision which is bound to cause other clubs to start looking for such alternatives.
If you look at the revenue sources for football clubs in the country, the main ones come from corporate sponsors who still haven’t put enough monies to cater for huge expenses incurred by the clubs in its wages, training and youth facilities. The monies from SuperSport are also not enough with the booty shared according to how well the club does on the standings at the end of the season. Ticket sales on match-days are so haphazard and given the apathy that fans are bound to build following recent spates of fan trouble and violence, it is not yet a reliable source.

This leaves clubs such as AFC Leopards with deals such as Ingwe TV. The challenge now will be on its management and club aficionados to come up with regular and relevant content both from current and past games. If they have rich archives of past glory days ( maybe they can have a chat with KBC management…) and also dig through past dailies and other publications, they would be able to create such content. Engaging past players and current ones too would see it provide a source of livelihood and work for these players.

In Zuku , they would be able to leverage not just on the TV channel but also on the Internet and online platforms which would be quite engaging as we see a major shift of users to online and mobile usage across the country and African region as well. It would also help Zuku attract additional customers to its triple play solutions and hence create a win-win situation for both parties.

As we write this KPL has threatened AFC Leopards with suspension unless it cancels the deal but Richard Bell the Wananchi Group CEO ( which is the mother company for Zuku) has said they’ll stay put since they didn’t infringe on any rights. Hoping sanity prevails between all parties and though commercial interests maybe the main drivers, one without the other will see a loss not just to the club, TV companies but also to the fan who is the ultimate target in the whole of this equation.

Kenya Premier League…finally of Age?

One year short of marking its 10th anniversary since it was formed the highest professional league for the game of football has seen what may be its best season so far.

KPL Logo – courtesy of www.kpl.co.ke



And in 2012….
The 2012 season started with the new office running Football Kenya Federation after years of bickering and court proceedings finally gave way to a compromise agreement. The warring factions of Football Kenya Limited and Kenya Football Federation each contested the elections with other favoured contenders.Sam Nyamweya and his retinue started by stating they would not interfere with the Kenya Premier League, more out of fear of losing out TV rights and sponsorship from SuperSport than any good intentions.
With that KPL CEO Jaco Oguda and Co. set about to look for corporate sponsorship as well as ensuring that clubs in the league maintained a certain level of professionalism. Up until this season, the league had not secured a title corporate sponsor making operations at the KPL offices and wider mandate a challenging task. Interestingly many clubs in the league have managed to attract big money with the likes of AFC Leopards, Gor Mahia, Sofapaka and Thika United among others getting 3-5 year commitments from Kenyan corporate firms. And by a stroke of luck the former big teams who have yet to win the revamped KPL have performed fairly well with both AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia fighting to the last match hoping to be crowned winners. Reigning champs Tusker FC have also an outside chance of picking the silverware again dependent on the top 2 teams faltering.


SuperSport’s influence and other clubs’ rise
With these clubs along with mid-level teams such as Thika United, Sony Sugar, Chemelil Sugar making fairly good performances, the media sponsors SuperSport have ensured that the wider audience not able to attend the games in the various stadia get a snippet of the action – Remember SuperSport have made the biggest investment into the KPL through securing exclusive media rights. The SuperSport honchos signed an initial 3-year contract in 2008, before extending it to 5 years in 2010 to end in 2015.
In its first year of coverage, SuperSport screened 22 games which has risen by 300% to 90 games shown on SuperSport including a channel launched in 2011 specifically targeted to the region, SS9 EA. In addition to this local media personnel have been trained on live coverage, camera, web among other technical aspects of the trade.
Back to the league, in its 9 years since 2003, the Premier League has seen different teams emerge as new kids on the block with Ulinzi FC ( largely associated with Kenya’s Defense Forces) win the title 4 times (from 2003-5 and 2010), Tusker FC 2 times (2007 and 2011), Sony Sugar in 2006 and Sofapaka 2009. This has helped the League get wider appeal with each of these clubs getting its own followers. Still these clubs have not attracted the number of fans that traditional teams have seen for their games but it’s a work in progress.


Sell your Soul
In the 2012 season, finally the League did secure title sponsorship with Tusker, EABL’s flagship brand with a 3-year contract worth KSh. 170 million. Though widely celebrated across the country, its our belief that the KPL officials sold themselves cheap in the rush to obtaining the deal. Our thinking is informed by the fact that there were other suitors willing to associate with the game both in the drink brands and a few telcos whose balance sheets would only spot a slight blip. Again, the KPL officials are still learning the ropes of relating and associating with the corporate types in the country who still view sport as a recreational activity.
Another deal signed in the 2012 season, saw Puma secure the deal for supplying footballs to the clubs in the league. The deal is worth KSh.10 million though no real monetary value is attached to the deal, yet again raising concern of who negotiates these deals for KPL.
By now, those charged with seeking sponsorship and long-term deals for the League should ensure they argue their case and seek better deals for the game. They should also see even if the deals do not fully come with monetary benefits, the KPL secures some form of commitment from corporate firms that will see investment in the game.

Future Prospects
And as the 2012 season comes to a close, there are lots of areas that need to be worked on. These include the following;


Club management vis-a-vis KPL Agenda
Many clubs in the KPL are still run by officials who’s agenda is not entirely in the interest of the club or game.  There are also many charlatans in town seeking to run clubs while they can’t run a household to save their souls. In times to come, KPL should ensure that clubs adhere to a certain code of ethics when it comes to management and financial aspects. It will be in the best interests that a club’s promotion to the top flight comes with a certain sense of responsibility and accountability. Oh by the way, KPL books for the last 3 years should also in the public domain for those in the game to know what and how the League is run.

Security and Discipline
This is still a sticking point in many league games. This is especially the case for the big games among traditional foes. Though KPL puts the liability and responsibility on the clubs, it ought to wield wider influence and consult with security experts on how to manage crowds and game situations. The Disciplinary Committee should also come down heavily on any club or fans who display intolerance and commit repeat offences relating to crowd trouble and harassment of fans. This will make it attractive for the uninitiated fans and also traditional ones who are yet to step back in stadia to make that move. They should also vet security apparatus who’s personnel at times work in cahoots with the fans to either smuggle in illegal stuff or use fake tickets to enter various venues.
The same should be reciprocated by players on the pitch. Many a times we have seen footballers question the decisions made by the referees and some even result to physically abusing the officials. These incidences should become a rarity if KPL thoroughly and regularly trains the centre field officials along with club representatives.

Venues
Talking of venues, though it’s not KPL’s main concern to build infrastructure, they should impress upon local and regional authorities to make invest more in better infrastructure in the stadia, parking lots, training grounds and youth centres. In the upcoming system of county governance, those that seek to engage the youth and related activities will have a lead in attracting viable investments. We have seen many a housing projects come up with golfing estates, but it sure would also help if they had training grounds for football and other outdoor games. The same would be great for youth centres.

Financial and Legal Expertise
Though the KPL has officials who are experts in these fields, they need to engage more hands in both departments for the League to be able to develop strong and stringent mechanisms for clubs and those with the interest of the game to operate. Sponsorship deals secured on the cheap should become last resort not options explored and hastily signed. There also need to be consultations with those in the professions to provide training in sports finance and sports law.

Club Youth system
Famous clubs have made it a priority to invest in their youth development programs. It should be of urgency since many clubs are starting to attract talent from lower rung clubs but the reservoirs are not enough. The system will not only ensure continuity for the clubs but also see former and retiring footballers engaged in their favoured club activities instead of wasting away in destitution, drug abuse and alcoholism. It has worked in developed leagues such as Spain, Germany, Holland and now England. Investing in the club’s youth will also see a better national team from the under 12 all the way to the senior side for Harambee Stars.

And this is looking forward to a better league in 2013 and coming years…and raise a glass to the winners of the 2012 season !

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}

Football Kenya falters again and again

Football Kenya fallacies
After securing fresh mandate from the football fraternity in the country, the current Chair one mercurial Sam Nyamweya seemed to have finally come in through the main door to bring order to the rather chaotic scene that is Kenyan football.
But barely a month in office, the Chair started making moves which have since started becoming all too common and frequent. Last year in the first week of December , it was announced that from 2013, all football tournaments that were to be played in Kenya from the lowest levels to the senior ones would have to seek Football Kenya Federation’s clearance – the main gist of this was the many corporate-sponsored tournaments which football officials have salivating and rubbing their hands with glee due to the monies involved.
Early this year one of the country’s professional players made formal complaints about refunds not made to him for air travels made during national duty. Another player still also complained about his use of image and non-compensation for the same. Both these cases were poorly managed by the FKF team which started making pronouncements of how unpatriotic our pro players had suddenly become.

As the country was preparing for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers for 2013, it became clear that the technical team did not have what it takes to deliver the goods and the campaign was in shambles by last month with sacking ( and ‘appointment’ as football technical director )of the national coach.
By this time also the cracks had started emerging between the Chair and the Vice-Chair along with other branch officials who have not been accommodated in some of the rushed decisions made by the Federation.
Mid-last month, one of the biggest football tournaments, Sakata Ball was cancelled by the sponsors Safaricom in the last minute after it emerged that some FKF officials had made a claim for a percentage of the sponsorship fee(s). This was clearly without justification.
The straw that broke the Camel’s back was Monday’s announcement to the media that FKF had resolved to suspend Vice-Chair and of the Nairobi branch officials for some fabricated and cooked-up issues. And in quick succession, the Chair proceeded to appoint one of his handy men to the post of Vice-Chair.
There are many other issues which we would wish to highlight, but let’s not bore you to death with the sad song(s)…

Same old, same old…
What irks us here at SportsKenya is the fact that once again, Kenyan football is a non-starter, largely due to an incompetent leadership team which is bereft of any new ideas to inject into the local scene. Some have been hoping that the current Chair – who’s well known for his dubious character and political machinations – would somehow see the ‘light’ but that very light has been put off for many a football fan.
KPL as sponsored by SuperSport Limited has been trying against all odds to restore some order into the game. But interference has been seen from FKF e.g. the media accreditation process which was done in a shoddy manner, disciplinary issues relating to the suspended games as well as the tiffs with some of the refereeing officials who at times are at pains to gain control of the game but can’t due to fans’ pressure.

The usual nonchalant stance by FIFA is not entirely suprising given the fact that the first port of call for the current Chair after his election was the Swiss city of Zurich. It may also not be lost to us that the current FIFA President is on his last days and wouldn’t want to antagonise officials who might come back for his neck upon retirement.
The Kenyan Government through the Ministry of Sport is the lame-duck which pipes threats but never makes good its word. Mr. Minister, you can bite the bullet and disband the top team since we have not even qualified for the AFCON coming up in 2013 anyway. And the more we wait for semblance of order to take place, the more the disorder and misconduct of the top organs will continue.

If we can make that sacrifice and bear the painful process for at least 6-12 months, we can midwife a new management team that will have not just the goodwill of football practitioners and enthusiasts but also serve as a lesson on how not-to-mismanage the universal game of football! Well until then, we can forget any meaningful change in the Kenyan football status in the near future…

Elgon Cup, London Marathon, El Classico – Busy Sporting Weekend

The second last weekend of April represents a nice offering for Kenyan sporting fans. What with all the rains pounding much of the country, it’s a mostly indoors affair for Kenyan (save for the fact that @KenyaPower may have other ideas depending on your side of the hood…)
This one has quite a flurry of activity and sporting events to look out for;



Rugby

Elgon Cup poster

Kenya’s rivalry with Uganda for the 2012 Elgon Cup is renewed tomorrow at the famous Kyadondo Grounds in Kampala. The last few haunts to that ground have not been very successful for Kenyans. The coach Mike ‘Tank’ Otieno has introduced quite a number of fresh players hoping to expose these to the tougher and longer version of the game ( 15-a-side). We pray for a Kenya win and wish the best in their Kyadondo outing.The game will be screened live on SuperSport.


Football
The local league continues with some interesting fixtures such as the AFC Leopards v/s Tusker in Mombasa, Gor Mahia v/s Ulinzi Stars in Nakuru, among others. Leopards is slowly building a gap at the top, but these are early stages and 2-3 games can quickly change what may have seemed like a sterling season. Gor Mahia will be playing their first game after the decision to discipline their fans for the fracas during the AFC v/s Gor Mahia game. There is also the #BongaBoli  follow on Twitter @BongaBoli promo seeking a Kiswahili football-caster for SuperSport as they develop content for their East African channel 9. This weekend they visit the lakeside town of Kisumu.
Internationally there is the EPL big one Arsenal ( which enjoys quite a following around this part of the world) and Chelsea. It’s the feature game on Saturday starting at 1445hours. Later in the evening is the biggest derby in club football in Spain where Barcelona faces up Real Madrid for the title race. Each of these sides came out of UEFA Champions League licking their wounds. It ought to be a cracker as Lionel Messi tries to outscore Cristiano Ronaldo – for the Pichichi Award.

Athletics
After a fairly successful outing of Kenyan marathoners last weekend in Boston, Sunday, the London marathon is back! After taking both the men’s and women’s title, this will be no walk in the park as the Ethiopians and also some Chinese will hoping to make the podium.
This race will help (or further complicate…) the selection process for the Kenyan team for the Olympic Games which come back to this city in July-August later this year.
Emmanuel Mutai will be hoping to defend his win last year but will have to give chase to 3-time winner Martin Lel, world record holder Patrick Makau and world champion Abel Kirui. A tough call to pick the winner right there!
Mary Keitany leads the women’s charge and will be given a run by one of the Dibaba sisters Ejegayehu Dibaba.

Formula One

Bahrain GP

Yes this sport has developed quite a following in the country even when some of the races are in some ungodly hours of Sunday morning or evening. This weekend sees GP teams visiting the Arab state of Bahrain. The first practice session today saw Lewis Hamilton emerge tops amidst controversies and tomorrow the cars and drivers take back to the track to see who attains pole position in the starting grid.
 
All the above action is available on the SuperSport channels for those who feel like staying indoors. If you can afford to hang out at a pal’s or your local hang-out, then these too can provide you with some nice weekend action!

Football Derby exposes Kenyan football soft underbelly

Many had gone to the game expecting it to live to the hype but what transpired on Sunday is the sad reality of what the Kenyan football game should address and hopefully learn from going forward.
Before going all ham on this post, we seek your indulgence on an article carried by the Daily Nation last week on Wednesday 14th March about how ‘financially-troubled clubs being dropped from KPL‘. The article sought to give direction on what would happen to clubs which have not had proper finances being demoted to lower rung leagues from the Kenya Premier League.

Dropping the Ball? 

It sought to give a clear signal to clubs which have not been able to meet their financial obligations such as paying their players, having concrete contracts for the players as well as functioning secretariat would face such consequences.
The same article estimated each club’s requirement for a season at between KSh.12-15 million. Of this amount, each club is estimated to earn about KSh. 4.4 million from SuperSport who are funding KPL’s activities thus far.
For the last two seasons, we have seen many a club come into the top league but struggle through the season to meet their financial obligations. This season already Rangers FC has been sending red alerts to potential financiers to come to their aid.  They have even contemplated changing their base to create veritable home support in a bid to attract fans to their games.
This is just one of the concerns that KPL needs to address. One of the ways it can aid in this is by securing an overall title sponsor for the Premier League similar to what other leagues in more ‘developed football economies’. This would ensure some more subsidies for the clubs from the KPL in terms of bonuses and assured revenue.

Secondly, the KPL needs come up with a blueprint which would ensure that by the time a club is in the Nationwide League, it is already approaching potential sponsors with the promise of support if they do indeed qualify for the top flight.

Thirdly, with new devolved system of governance, it will be imperative for urban centres in the different counties to come up with social amenities such as stadia, community grounds and related infrastructure. If they can manage to convince a few of the towns which have basic stadia to spruce them up in time and relocate them to these towns, that would build home support for the teams and in longevity ensure wider spread of the game.

Fourth as we saw on Sunday, only a few of the top clubs can muster huge crowds. If the level of competition is enhanced and less emphasis is laid on these top teams, the other teams will also start enjoying sizeable crowds during their games. See what has happened to Sofapaka, Ulinzi FC to name but a few?

Fifth, the security levels at most the games not just the big derby matches but also those in smaller towns leave a lot to be desired. Many a times the Kenya Police are contracted to suppress any crowd trouble but this needs reinforcement from private security personnel.

Sixth, heavy penalties should be incurred by the hosting team in case a game has crowd trouble, no amenities or poor surfaces for the play-grounds. Even the Nyayo National stadium which has been hosting majority of the games! It was downgraded by FIFA due to fan trouble and lack of proper sitting arrangements. It is a no-brainer on this one!

Seventh, both KPL and FKF need to engage professional hands in the management of the game locally. Too many quacks are masquerading as sports administrators but we have seen a rather sorry state of the game at times.  The fact that players can go for months without pay while their managers/team owners ‘roll in 4×4 vehicles’ leaves a lot to be desired. Same applies to player agents and any other personnel relating to club/game logistics. FIFA is always willing to help and are regularly offering workshops and seminars to help with capacity building.

Eighth, since 1995, Kenya has not had club representation at continental level beyond the 1st or 2nd round qualifiers. This is not by accident, its because we have not invested in the game and when we do, it such knee-jerk situations that it fails to make any impact. Lack of proper structures at the top has meant management-by-crisis which has seen us where we are.

Ninth, social media’s with us! But have we used those channels appropriately? As noted by another blogger here. That fans and club enthusiasts can use these channels to hurl abuses at each other is such a sad state of affairs which won’t help bring back the many fans who are yearning to watch live matches.

So going forward, it is bad that the game on Sunday ended the way it did. But if FKF and KPL can pick lessons from this, it can be a new phase for the game going. 

AFC Leopards v/s Gor Mahia – KPL’s Main Highlight this weekend

Kenya’s Premier League’s started in earnest and this weekend the biggest derby in the country’s history unfolds on Sunday at 1500hours.

AFC Leopards v/s Gor Mahia in a past gameimage courtesy of www.futaa.com

This season though, AFC Leopards are currently the fastest kids off the blocks, having won 4 out of their first 5 matches. They had some signings in the off-season which have seen them scalping every team in their wake.
Allan Wanga‘s been their starry-eyed player for the moment for AFC. He’s scored  in all except one match including a delightful free-kick against Ulinzi FC in February which saw him voted by sports journalist as the Kandanda Player of the Month ( taking home trophy & 10,000 to boot). He has ably taken off the load of scoring which had been left to Mike Barasa for the better part of last season. Along with other new signings, the team seems to be gelling faster than the rest. The good tidings for Jan ‘Wephukulu’ Koops also seem to be pouring onto the team’s fortunes as they did for the latter part of last season. Modest financial backing from sponsors as well as favourable ticket sales from match-days have seen the financials fortunes of the club stabilise in the short-term.
Gor Mahia on the other hand have not been able to secure good results which has resulted in the sacking of its entire technical bench. The team’s currently placed 14th, two places from the bottom of the table standings. With the team being bundled out of continental championship and the ‘colossal’ expectations of its huge fan-base, the players will have pride to fight for in this fixture. Their off-season signings have taken long to cobble up a formidable team but if they have the patience, they will be rewarded in good time.
Last season’s similar fixture saw Gor Mahia beat AFC by 3-1 only for the latter to reverse the results by 3-0 margin. As always the stakes are high for both teams { who’s fans affectionately call each other shemeji – (cousins) thanks to the political alignments and geographical proximity of majority of the fans }.

For you the discerning Kenyan football fan, this is surely not to be missed and if in the unlikely event you can’t make it to the Nyayo National Stadium, catch the action on SuperSport 9 East Africa !

Check out this blog which aggregates news about AFC Leopards team activities and games, pre-match and post-match analysis. As for Gor Mahia, this link might help too!

Sepp Blatter & FIFA retinue to visit Kenya ( East Africa) soon

With Federation of Kenya Football having conducted a relatively smooth election to merge Football Kenya with Kenya Football Federation, FIFA powers that-be had to acknowledge the legitimacy of the new office holders. The new chair, mercurial Sam Nyamweya  managed to hold audience with FIFA President Sepp Blatter in November 2011 a few days after the elections and the latter promised to make good the new office’s endorsement by paying a visit to the region with Kenya being part of the circuit visit.

FIFA Pres. Sepp Blatterimage courtesy of http://dadoubd.canalblog.com/

Work on another of the sites for the FIFA Goal Projects is said to start soon in the lakeside town of Kisumu. So while FIFA prepares another whistle-stop trip around Eastern Africa, we thought of a few things they ought to consider as they throw in some sun-bathing lotion, safari/khaki trousers and designer sun-glasses;
1. FIFA Goal Project in Kenya – though this has been touted as one of the biggest FIFA projects to get football from lower levels and under-priviledged areas, in Kenya we are well below expectations. Initial work at the Kasarani Sports Centre stalled and though there is commitment from the Government to continue with the project, FKF officials have not put any structures in place to ensure the same doesn’t happen in future.

2. Non-partisanship  – in the past, FIFA honchos have been seen to take sides when any sort of crisis plagues the local game. This has seen the local football scene deteriorate considerably over the past 15 or so years. It doesn’t help that your organisation broods no interference or nonsense from national Governments but that doesn’t mean that the game should be sacrificed for a few ego bruises.

3. Women’s Football – while the Kenyan male counter-part has had a warm-cold representation at international circles, the women’s game seems to be spurred by some form of inspiration and is fast taking root among Kenyan urban poor. Does your office have any developmental agenda for their game? They just might be what Kenyan football needs to spur it to international fame.

Image courtesy of www.picturesdeposit.com

4. Transparency – many analysts have talked and commented about the secrecy that shrouds your books and other financial statements – the jury’s still out there on how transparent the overall body is run. This should not be the case for national federations. We’ve seen too many shady merchants running the game and getting away with it. Don’t fault them, they only take orders from above …

5. Africa’s agenda – beyond the voting rights that African states have enjoyed, and yes we (South Africa) did host a World Cup. What’s your agenda for African football going forward? Your on-and-off tiffs with CAF top-dog Issa Hayatou have been well documented. Well ours is to hoping that in your last few years of the final term, the game of football can be of great pride to the African citizenry in the near future. Continental sports media house SuperSport has taken the initiative to develop local leagues across many African states, maybe you can take a cue from them. The resources that your organisation enjoys are enourmous and a little bite on the cherry won’t hurt will it?

Thus said, we hope that your visit will be worth the while and as we say in Swahili… Karibu Sana!   

SuperSport pulls another first in East Africa Sport – SuperSport 9 East

Wednesday’s launch of SuperSport 9 (SS9) East is a major boost to sports media development in the Eastern Africa. Broadcasting in the Swahili language, the channel will provide live coverage, expert analysis as well as commentaries pre and post-game and weekends. It will also have programming specifically tailored for the Eastern & Central Africa market.

SuperSport image courtesy of www.dstv.co.za

Having engaged over 30 personnel in media training – from commentators to cameramen and photographers – SuperSport has provided a wealth of knowledge to this niche market that is slowly making it to the mainstream and becoming lucrative for business. Encouraged by the unexploited potent of football, athletics, rugby and other sports such as cricket and volleyball, the region will cut out its place in the African continent. Starting today at 1200hours (E.A time) , SS9 East will surely be welcome fresh of air to East & Central Africa!

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/