Thursday, 31 May 2007

June 2007 - what to watch (& for active ones play or cheer)

Yes, what every Kenyan loves a long weekend, especially falling on a Thursday, being end-month...enough reasons to imbibe,make merry,load a few more kilos around the waist and get broke (again) before the 15th.
For sports lovers the coming month promises to be quite a busy one
Rhino Charge-June 2nd-this is an off-the-road race which tests 4x4 vehicles to their limits helping raise funds for the Rhino Ark. A number of regulars will be around including Rob Collinge, Ian Duncan and a host of other enthusiasts.


Tusker Safari Sevens-June 8th-10th-this is one of the premier events in the sporting calendar, drawing a huge crowd of rugby enthusiasts(a number of people wanting to get drunk while shouting themselves hoarse...& lately beautiful ladies swanning it as they 'model' latest fashion trends).


Safaricom Lewa Marathon-June 23rd,another increasingly significant event which draws quite a number of corporates and individuals willing to have a run in the Northern Kenya bush.It enjoys the support of the CEO himself who even dons a track suit and gets into the thick of things. It also encourages Kenyans and international participants to donate towards conservation of the fragile Kenyan environment. No wonder Safaricom's colours are green !
In other circles, both local and international includes;
ongoing French Open-Roland Garros-one of the prestigious Tennis tourneys,
penultimate stages of the Spanish La Liga-Real challenge Barcelona with Sevilla looking to spoil the party,
there will also be respective African, European qualifiers to African Cup of Nations and European Cup respectively, starting from the second week-end of June,
NBA Plaf-offs;San Antonio Spurs wait for the winner between Detroit Pistons & Cleveland Cavaliers 2-2,
Formula 1: Montreal Grand Prix while in WRC the 7th round,Acropolis Rally-Greece starting today 31st of May to 3rd June 2007.

Have a superb weekend and please don't forget on Monday it's still another week , let's not party like it's 1999 (Prince & the Revolutions song)!

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

The Weekend that was

Hey y'all, let's put the weekend blues to rest. Well, it's also end of the month for most of us so I guess that means more $$$ by end of the week. Let's not get carried away though, here's the weekend's main highlights;
Soccer:
Kenya lost to Nigeria 0-1 as they played a friendly in preparation for the Africa Cup of Nations coming in June with ties against Angola and Swaziland.
Spanish League: Real & Barcelona still lead the table with each team securing victories at their home ties. Sevilla also kept the heat and look to secure another trophy either in the Primera Liga or King's Cup.

Basketball:
Nairobi hosted the Inter-Cities tourney and the Finals were between Nairobi & Dar-es-Salaam (men) and Nairobi vs Kampala at Nyayo National Stadium Basketball Gym.
NBA Play-offs:

Photo courtesy of Yahoo Images.
Cleveland pulled one back as the series heads for Game 4 today at Cleveland. Detroit lead 2-1. In the Western Conference, San Antonio Spurs lead 3-1 against the Utah Jazz who were playing at home. Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 22 points ( 11 being freethrows) while Tim Duncan had 19 points, 9 rebounds & 5 blocks. Tony Parket had a night he'd want to forget with 17 points,2 assists and 3 turn-overs.


Motorsport:
The Monaco Grand Prix :McLaren won the team title with Fernando Alonso easily picking the first position ahead of Lewis Hamilton who let him off after team orders not to lead the race.
Controversy is bound to continue as it's alleged that McLaren team ordered Hamilton to slow down and let the no.1 driver for the team earn his second victory. The Formula 1 body will look to investigate these claims as the practice was banned 4 years ago as Ferrari wanted to effect a similar arrangement for Michael Schumacher.

Photo courtesy of www.bbc.co.uk
Rugby:
The Kenyan Sevens team won the shield at the Emirates London IRB Sevens tourney by beating Italy 15-0. This was a morale booster though their objective was to fight for the Main Cup. This leads to the final round in Edinburgh.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Athletics Kenya and New KCC in KShs. 4.5 million sponsorship deal


This is some good news coming from the corporate sector. New KCC has signed a KShs.4.5 million deal with Athletics Kenya to help the association in its competition leading to the World Athletics Championships to be held in Osaka,Japan in September. This is for branding the association's local competitions including the national track and field championships ( internationally Nike remain exclusive kitting company).
AK chairman, Isaiah Kiplagat, said the sponsorship was timely as it will supplement his association’s huge financial commitment towards major the forthcoming major local and international championships.
New KCC chairman Matu Wamaeon the other hand, said that this was one way of sharing the proceeds from the corporation’s growth in profits. They had decided to support athletics because the sport creates a synergy with its health of health products. He said most milk producing areas like the Rift Valley also produced the best athletes and it was, therefore, appropriate for the New KCC to back the sport.
He expressed optimism that the corporation would renew the contract based on the performance and commitment made by Athletics Kenya as well as the performance of New KCC in the coming years.
I'd say that's a commendable start from the company given that it has gone back to profitable ways. Again it makes a lot of sense since milk is synonymous with healthy feeding which is a cornerstone to any athlete's success. It also raises the profile of the company since Athletics is a huge success for Kenya in the international scene.
Way to go, way to go !
This ought to be a rallying point for other corporations and multi-nationals in Kenya to support sports and related activities.
For more on this story,log on to
www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgcontententry.asp?category_id=5&newsid=98834

Sporting Weekend

Friday does this magical thing to people and crazy stuff to the traffic,work-related issues and the pockets(sic). But hoping we all enjoy a bit of indulgence here's what you can indulge in this weekend;
Football:
Spanish La Liga continues as the title race is still tight between Real Madrid and Barcelona with Sevilla also having a chance.
Rugby:
The Emirates Airline Sevens-London start off tomorrow with Kenya being placed in Pool C along with New Zealand, Scotland and Italy.
Basketball:
East & Central Inter-cities Basketball tournament continues in Nairobi's Nyayo Gym.
NBA Play-offs-Conference Finals with San Antonio leading Utah 2-0 as Detroit do with Cleveland 2-0.
Cricket:
Bangladesh vs India
Motorsports:
Formula 1 action at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton leads the standings with Felipe Massa,Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen chasing him.
Golf:
Action starting today with KCB Pro-Am championship at Limuru Country Club,KWAL Day at Machakos, Kameme FM tournament at Muthaiga Golf Club while the Windsor host the Windsor Ladies' Open.
Cycling:
The Giro d'Italia continues as riders brace themselves for July's Tour de France.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Kenyan Sporting Champs- What a cruel world !


In an earlier article (blog), I discussed the issue of what would be outstanding Kenyan sports brands. It’s an interesting take on our sports scene and how much we have under-valued our sports personalities and sporting events. Over the years, there have been minor attempts to up the tempo and make good the success of our sports people but with the same steam most efforts have come to naught.
What am I talking about?

Ever heard of Joe Kadenge? Peter Dawo? Henry Rono? Did you know that Kenya would have hosted the African Cup of Nations-football in 1996?
JK-as Kadenge is affectionately referred to by his friends operates a cab service in the upmarket area of Hurlingham; while Peter Dawo-the last I knew was a clerk working at the Kenya Railways, you never know he may have been axed with the ongoing privatization of the corporation. Henry Rono (sob) I’m told he washes cars in some city in the United States too shamed to even show face in Kenya. 1996- Well, this was our chance to host and showcase the African Cup of Nations in football-the biggest tournament with the widest audience in Africa but you and I know that this went to South Africa (who ended up winning it!)The list is long and quite depressing! How disgraceful and despicable!!!

Peter Dawo starring for Harambee Stars in 1987 All Africa Games,Nairobi
Photo courtesy of Kenyapage.net

These were the stars of their days that helped set the foundation of most sports activities in the country. JK is a household name across Kenya who ought to be on the same pedestal with the likes of Eusebio- Mozambican-born Portuguese football player, Sir Bobby Charlton-England or even Pele-Brazil if you like. Peter Dawo- top scorer in the African Cup Winners Cup (also known as Mandela Cup)-led Gor Mahia to their first and only continental championship in 1987 is comparable in some quarters to Didier Drogba-Cote dé Ivoíre. Henry Rono in his best form broke 4 world records in a month. He set the pace for most of the long distance runners of the present day.
What went wrong? Why don’t we have structures and policies in place to support our very best? Can we arrest this situation? Our own athletes living appalling lives yet they were (and to me most still are!) the true heroes of this nation! If there were people deserving a place in the proposed Heroes’ Corner, you already have a whole load of them! No streets, roads or major sporting venues (exception Kip Keino stadium), NOTHING!
Yes we can correct this situation. How you ask?
First we ought to provide prudent and professional management to our sport people especially during their active life. Most of them are from a deprived background and the sense of belonging becomes a bit overwhelming to most. Professional managers and organizations ought to alleviate this.
Secondly, investment options need be explored to help divert their earnings to meaningful channels and secure their future( rumour has it that Henry Rono’s agent used to carry a suit-case stashed with cash on race-days, hopping from one race-track to the next).

A more recent photo of Henry Rono

Third, policy ought to be drafted to help set up a Fund (like NSSF) to be managed by public trustees and professional fund managers to oversee earnings/takings/returns from sports and help look out for those who retire to a less productive life. It can also cater for the setting up of centres for development of talent as honed by the retired athletes who would only be too willing to help.
Fourth, local firms ought to come out strongly and help these sports personalities by using them to endorse their products. This ought to supplement their income and earnings. The returns would be enormous (check Michael Jordan’s profile)
Lastly, I don’t think it would hurt to have a few of our streets, roads, venues named after our athletes. I mean they did us proud and we ought to reward them not just now but for posterity. Would it hurt also to have a sort of Hall of Fame for our athletes? (I understand Athletics Kenya has something similar to what I am saying)
That way I’ll not feel guilty every time I see JK drive (or is it chauffeured?) past me in the roads of Nairobi!

AC Milan -Kings of European Football 2007

Yes I said it! This game would be won within the 90 min, it would be decided by one goal and that the trophy would be headed for Italy this time…… (OK that last one wasn’t part of it)
Yes AC Milan did avenge their loss in 2004-5 Champions League campaign to give their fans something to scream(and drink about…) for the better part of the night !
First-Half:

Mascherano vs Kaka
It all started slowly and AC Milan had a better passing game but Jermain Pennant kept his runs on the right wing coming Milan’s way but without much fruition. They had also managed to contain Kaka to a minor role (but he did the famous ‘run-over’ started by Zidane and it was a highlight of the game…& Xabi Alonso did try but his was a bit awkward).
But towards the end, Kaka was brought down for Pirlo to take the kick and Inzaghi being the opportunist hurled himself for the ball to come off his side.
Milan 1- Liverpool 0
Second-Half:

Filipo Inzaghi kills it for Milan

The stadium became a bit livelier as Liverpool tried to equalize but kept throwing their chances away. Milan meanwhile found their passing game but also couldn’t make headways. In the last quarter, Kaka got a through ball to Filipo Inzaghi and he did finish off clinically taking the ball off to his right then kicking the ball deftly past Reina and running to celebrate his kill.
Dirk Kuyt seemed to have memories of Istanbul 2005 in his mind by getting a header over Dida in the 85th min, but Milan managed to hold on and celebrate a historic win 2-1 at Athens.
Oh by the way, Mentalacrobatics, I saw what Mascherano did for Kaka.
PLayer of the match: Filipo Inzaghi with 2 goals adding to his tally of European goals to 38 goals in total.

When we are Kings !

Milestones:
Milan won their 6th UEFA Champions League title, and also the second in less than 5 years (last won in 2002-3).
Maldini became the oldest player to captain a winning side. He has been actively involved in Milan for the last 24 years (the age of Pennant's)
Costacurta being part of the team became the oldest player ever to have won a Champions’ League medal at 42 years. He joins the management team at AC Milan as of next year.
Carlo Ancelotti became the fifth person to ever win the Champions’ League as a player and twice as manager(both at Milan)
Clarence Seedorf became the first player to ever win the Champions’ League four times with different teams (Ajax Amsterdam, Real Madrid and AC Milan twice).
Gattuso, Inzaghi, Pirlo, and a host of other Italian players have added Champions’ League to their World Cup triumph last year in 2006.
Liverpool lost their first final against AC Milan.
Jerry Dudek marked his final game for Liverpool though he didn’t play.
Benefits:
The winner of the Champions League gets in excess of US$50 million (approx.KShs.3.5 billion) in prize money excluding TV and commercial rights which might amount to anotherUS$25 million (KShs.1.75 billion).
One Silvio Berlusconi was smiling from ear to ear....more $$$
Did someone say that English football seems to have taken Europe by storm?
Fact: Italy won the World Cup in 2006; AC Milan an Italian team won the UEFA Champs League 2006-7! Sevilla (Spanish) won the lesser UEFA Cup last week.
Commercially maybe, but title-wise…...well that's a different story.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Ultra-running...what say you ?

I came across this interesting bit of a new generation of athletes. It's ultra-running ! This is for those truly hardened athletes...instead of the 42km(26 miles) or 100km(62 miles. This has its history from Great Britain. I found that interesting since the country has always had this rivalry thing going to try to prove who is King of the Long Distance...

NBA Play-offs Update


San Antonio Spurs take a 2-0 lead over the Utah Jazz in the Western COnference Finals. They beat Utah at San Antonio 105-96 as the next two games go to Utah's home court.
As usual the 3 keys to Spurs were at play with Tony Parker shining with crucial 3-point plays. Tim Duncan was also key picking up 14 rebounds & scoring 26 points. Carlos Boozer exorcised his game 1 nightmare by scoring 33 points and grabbing 15 rebounds for the Jazz.
Today Detroit pick on the Cleveland Cavaliers for Game 2 of the Eastern Finals...keep watching !

Champions League Final -Athens 2007


AC Milan vs Liverpool: Yes, it's not 2005 but 2007 ! But will history repeat itself ? I don't think so !
Let's do some quick facts on this;
Milan have 8 ( Eight of AC Milan's starting eleven that night - Dida, Cafu, Maldini, Nesta, Kaka, Pirlo, Gattuso and Seedorf - are still with the club, as is second half substitute Serginho) .of their players who played in the 2005 FInal at Instanbul, while Liverpool have 9-Dudek, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Alonso, Luis Garcia, Gerrard and Kewell - are still at the club. Milan have the highest goal-scorer this Champs league in Kaka ( 10 goals ), while for Liverpool they have Peter Crouch leading with 6 goals.
Maldini if he starts will be the oldest player as captain at 38 years. Costacurta will also make history as the oldest player on the bench of any Finalist of the Champs League at 42 years. Another player who's bound to make history is Clarence Seedorf ( if Milan wins) will be the first player to win 4 Champs League titles with different teams. Carlo Ancelotti will also make history as one of the few to win the Champs League as a player and coach, both with AC Milan.
As for Liverpool, Benitez he will be looking out for his 3rd Final in any major European Cup having led Valencia to the UEFA Cup Final 2003-4, Liverpool in 2004-5. Liverpool will be looking for their 5th win of the Champions League, while AC Milan will be looking for their 7th win.
AC Milan's supporting cast
The battle is surely to be won at the midfield with Milan having two tenacious midfielders in Ambrosini with Gino Gattuso-the man who seems to have run the most miles on the pitch this Champs league campaign. They will look to hold and get the ball for Pirlo and Seedorf as they look for when ,where and how to get it to Kaka. At the front will be Inzaghi or Gilardino. At Liverpool, Gerrard will as usual marshall the mid-field with the support of Dirk Kuyt ,Alonso,Bellamy, Kewell or Zenden. Upfront will most likely be Peter Crouch.

Kaka vs Gerrard

But I'll be about to bet my money on this being a 90 min game no more no less. It might be decided by a margin of one goal or two at most.
Keep it here for the analysis tomorrow as we close the season on the most prestigious League in the world !

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Strathmore –Sure to Conquer !


It’s been an interesting observation in the last few years as I peruse and cover sports events. I have come across this name at least 4 or 5 times and in different disciplines if I may say.
Strathmore University-one of the latest kids on the blocks in provision of higher education in Kenya! It is a private institution run under the strict tutorship of Catholic-ties Opus Dei. It’s emerged as one of the leading institutions to produce players in rugby, basketball, football, hockey to name but a few. In fact, the hockey men’s team recently won the East Africa Club championships held in Tanzania a few days ago. The men’s basketball last year qualified for the Kenya Basketball Federation Premier League.
I’m encouraged when I read such stories. It shows a couple of things to note;
a)Capacity- given the number of students that such an institution attracts, it is reasonable to say that there loads of reservoirs to draw players from. Being attractive to high schools or institutions such as Maseno, Mangu, St. Mary’s, Rift Valley Academy etc it ought to have capacity to have players in all disciplines possible
b)Publicity- through sport, the institution is able to sensitize the public on not just the name of the institution but also the avenues that exist for those willing to pursue not just a professional career such as Commerce and IT but also engage in sports.
c) Multi-faceted- as I stated above, it is important to have well-rounded people working for your organization. What better way than to recruit from such an institution where they are tutored in academics but also molded into to disciplined sports people.
d)Competitiveness- this will be on one side for the individuals participating in sports and also for the institutions that have existed before. The individuals will engage in sports making it highly competitive amongst them. The existing institutions will also try to outdo this Johnny-come-lately and hope to upstage it in any discipline they may send representatives.

In future I believe institutions in Kenya should look forward to developing fully fledged departments and faculties that will draw people interested not just in participating in sports, but also be professionals running sports in managerial or other capacities. This can be in either sport marketing, sports law, sports management or related fields…… (Think of Strathmore Sports Management School…possible!).Have a check at their website and get a sneak preview of what they are all about ! www.strathmore.edu
We can have our own University College of Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Illinois, Pittsburgh University. These institutions provide talent for fields in sports such as NBA, American Football and baseball. It is important to note that college basketball is such a huge attraction in the US that they even screen it on ESPN……competitive and lucrative! Can somebody hear me?

Monday, 21 May 2007

Weekend Wrap

This is a preview of the weekend that was;
Soccer:
FA Cup Final : Chelsea 1 - Man U 0

This was a bit of a bore for a match. The players seem to have been fatigued and everyone was just cautious to spark any fires. But Drogba played what has been Chelsea's season scoring just late enough to secure Chelsea's second trophy of the season. At last it shone for Mourinho,but I've this gut feeling that he's not happy with a couple of things, he seemed withdrawn from the victory.Let's see off-season action...
German Bundesliga:
VFB Stuttgart finally secured the League in Germany to reduce former holders Bayern Munich to fourth place with Schalke & Werder Bremen being 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Spanish Primera Liga:
Barcelona kept the pressure on Real Madrid after a 6-0 drubbing of Athletico Madrid.Real had escaped with a 3-2 narrow victory over Recreativo Huelva.
Italian Serie A & B:
Juventus were promoted back to Serie B after winning their weekend fixture. But it will be a hard call since they lost enough of their crucial players and a few have shown interest in other clubs including G. Buffoon their star goalie.
NB: I'll keep my blog off Kenyan football till I'm certain of what is going on. They(KFF and so-called stakeholders) had a meeting in Coast and something of a league is being played but that's all I can say.

Basketball:
The highlights of the KBF Premier League include Co-op Bank whipping Strathmore 90-47.In the women's League, Sprite Storms slighted Yana Milele 65-55.
NBA Play-offs:
A little over a day's rest San Antonio led by their big 3 beat Utah Jazz to start the Western Conference Finals as favourites. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and ever-reliable Manu Ginobili led the Spurs to the lead of the best-of-seven games.

Motorsport:

Lee Rose won the KCB Cub Account Rally in Eldoret. Alistair Cavenagh was second and Carl Tundo was third.


Rally of Italy-Sardinia:Marcus Gronholm managed to hold on to the lead after his main challenge Sebastien Loeb retired due to mechanical problems. He now leads the WRC standings with 55 points compared to Loeb's 48. The next round is the Acropolis Rally in Greece from 1-3 of June.

Boxing:
Jermain Taylor managed an easy victory over Cory Spinks. This was more like a formality bout than anything else.

Tennis:

Roger Federer managed to upstage Rafael Nadal in the latter's speciality by winning the Hamburg Open. This was sweet revenge after Nadal beat him in an exhibition match played on both clay and grass back in April. He also showed why he's still no.1 and the main challenge for the French Open coming next month.

Cricket:
Kenyan Select team lost to Zimbabwe A in Harare in ther final day of their 4-day visit to the country. However, I was annoyed by the fray that has politics has brought to the sport with Australia threatening to cancel passports of any players who decide to play the intended games against Zimbabwe's Cricket team. How disgraceful for PM John Howard. Let him not be blurred by his bad blood with Mugabe to allow this to interfere with the tour.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Ethiopian Athletics - Force to Reckon with

One of the country's that has threatened and indeed upset Kenyan athletes in major world events is our dear neighbours the Ethiopians. I have much respect for their breed of athletes because they show great patriotism and teamwork in major competitions such as the Olympics, World Athletics c'ships and such grand events. Our own athletes usually perform well at the Grand Prix events only to falter at the other competitions. It is usually disappointing having to watch these guys make laughing stock of the country as they out-do each other to change nationality ( did I hear someone say dual-citizenship...that's a good one !)
All the same, after the World Cross-country championships the Ethiopians have gone back to their camps and are launching some major onslaught on what might be a battle for supremacy at the forthcoming All-Africa Games, World Athletics Championships and Olympics next year in Beijing.
The Ethiopian government along with the Ethiopian Athletics Federation(EAF) have started development of 4 major training camps to help churn out athletes for these championships. Along with the Federation's main sponsor, Adidas, they will look out to continue its dominance in distance as well as improve performance in the shorter races such as the 800m, 1,500m and the 3,000m steeplechase for men and women, and also in the walking races.
Athletics Kenya are you watching this ? Basking in past glory is over & done with ! Better wake up and smell the coffee ( better still Ethiopian coffee!)
Check this out on
www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgcontententry.asp?category_id=5&newsid=98404
Quick News:
Kenyan half-marathon record holder Sammy Wanjiru was denied a visa into the UK forcinf him to pull out of Sunday's Great Manchester Run. The Kenyan, who is based in Japan, applied for his visa on 15 April but was denied entry to the United Kingdom. There were no explained reason and Athletics Kenya official David Okeyo has said they will send a protest note to the British.
It bothers me when the British start using dirty tactics and using bad publicity to gain advantage in sports. Some top official who had come for the World Cross-Country games in March had said that this year's competition was a huge risk having held it at low-altitude and heat-prone area of the Coast. He described next year's Games which incidentally will be held in his home country as X-country going back to its true home. Too bad ! I guess the world knows all too well which is the true Cross-Country Home !

Sparkling Spurs dance along as Cavaliers Close & Shut !

OK now those were two games that I had thought might go to the next round. That is, Game 6 for both San Antonio & Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers and New Jersey Nets.
San Antonio 114-Phoenix 106

With Spurs looking to making themselves play-off regulars and also Kings of the West, they had none other than one of NBA's best imports Argentine Manu "Obi Wan" Ginobili along with star players Frenchman Tony Parker and Tim Duncan leading the assault. Phoenix were as usual the sore losers with Steve Nash snabbing the obligatory concession speech to the Spurs.
Well for Spurs they had Duncan-the back-to-the-basics ,no-nonsense big man shwoing why he is the sport's most devastating all-around player, registering 24 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocks Friday.
Some might say the Game 5 'misdemeanour'that caused Suns exit but again you never know, people always have excuses for their losses.
Cleveland 88 - New Jersey 72


The heir is here ! Well it's been said that Lebron James is the heir-apparent to Michael Jordan, though he always says that he should be judged on his own light(funny though he wears no.23 jersey and also is one of Nike's lead player endorsers ....does is it ring a bell?) Even with foul trouble and having to stay on the bench, he still led his team with 23 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists to lead the Cavs to their first conference Final in 15 years. Well can they keep the Detroit out for the ultimate prize of an NBA Play-offs Final ? Keep watching !

Friday, 18 May 2007

Detroit ....What !


Detroit Pistons proved why they ought to be the main challengers for this year's NBA Play-offs title. They beat Chicago Bulls in game 6 of their Eastern conference semi-final clash at Chicago's home-court.
Richard Hamilton looking lethal without his mask this time round ,led four Pistons players in double figures with 23 points and other guard Chauncey Billups added 21 and seven assists. Tayshaun Prince scored 17 with nine rebounds and Rasheed Wallace had 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Chauncey Billups, one of Detroit's lethal ammo said that, 'there was some eerie silence' at the arena after the game. What would you expect for a team that last won the Play-offs in 1998. No offence but I guess they had stretched their luck too far !
High chests (like Bryant's to the Laker's team-mates !) for the team effort. This shows why the Pistons are like the complete team in NBA. No flashy players, no stars and big egos and most of all what really counts is the Championship ring !

Weekend Acts

Grrrr ! It's been raining for the last two days something that Nairobians dread and are scared of like the Egyptian plague. Well for those lucky enough to afford small pleasures in life like cable or pay TV ( DSTv in this case!), then relax buy a few cans of your fav drink and check out the following sports acts for the weekend....

Soccer:
English FA Cup Final : Chelsea vs Man U
Spanish Primera Liga continueson Sunday
German Bundesliga decisive games too
Italian League continues

Motorsport:
KCB Eldoret Cub Account Rally
WRC Rally of Italy

Basketball:
KBF Premier League continues.
NBA Play-offs: New Jersey Nets v Cleveland(Game 7 if necessary)
San Antonio Spurs v Phoenix (Game 7 if necessary)

Cricket:
Pakistan vs India

Boxing:
IBF Lightmiddleweight fight: Cory Spinks vs Jermain Taylor

Enjoy your weekend and keep the embers burning as you ready yourselves for what might a long 2 months of cold in June and July ! What you think guys ?

Thursday, 17 May 2007

New Wembley Stadium -Interesting Facts

Yup even as we keep messing ourselves (Kenya) there are others who are keeping it real. The English know where they are and what they need. The Wembley Stadium-one of the world's most popular football stadiums. I found some interesting facts on new stadium that is expected to host the weekend's FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester United.

After a six-and-half years' wait, the stadium is set to host its' first major game (as stated before). This was after a decision was made to expand it from the previous 79000 -fan stadium to the current 90000 seater.
The stadium also has 688 catering facilities,2618 toilets a 133m arch with 107 steps to the Royal Box ( where they make the ceremonial presentation of the FA Trophy every end of the English season by a member of the Royal family). The stadium also prids itself to have no obstructed seat with the fans having maximum full view effect at the stadium.It also has the world's longest single roof structure at 315m.
After the FA Cup Final there will be the Football League play-offs and also a June 1st friendly between Brazil and England.
As they have said , 'good things happen to those who wait'! This is going to be truly a Stadium of Legends !

FIFA vs Kenya-who's fooling who ?


As I write this, FIFA has issued another warning to the Kenyan football fraternity threatening to suspend Kenya for another one year for what they say is government interference. Awhile ago I had read that FIFA's Presidential Special delegate one Mr. Jerome Champagne had instructed the government not to interfere with scheduled branch elections and those for national office too. I mean this guy acts as the prosecutor and judge for FIFA's president Sepp Blatter. Going by the fact that Blatter's up for re-election, I don't like the Kenya's situation.
But FIFA should also acknowledge that it's rather pointless working with a bunch of buffoons who are out for the quick buck. They should also know there is no way you can overlook the legitimacy of a government. It invests on the infrastructure such as stadiums,training grounds,among others. If I read well, according to some story in the Time magazine (May 7th), all stadiums currently in the English Premier League had to be re-developed in the early 1990s to help attract bigger crowds and also to ensure safety and comfort for the faithful fans. The British government even went to the extent of funding some of the work done. I guess we can all see where they are now. It's the most successful domestic league in the world currently raking in revenues to the tune of £2.5 billion(approx. KShs.325 billion) for the 2005-06 season.
In Kenya, KFF is housed under Government-run Nyayo National Stadium. Almost all the main grounds are run by the Government-run Stadia Management Board. Also for the League to be able to run its clubs, the Government will have to provide a Fund of some sort. But from the set of officials currently in office, it's like betting money on some 15-year old horse ! In my own wicked opinion, I feel that Kenya should be suspended for at least 3 year so that we can sort out these messes ( remember the English teams were banned for 5 years in 1985 after 38 fans were killed in a match between Liverpool-Juventus. Right now that same team is featured in the Champions League Final hoping to secure the title again after the 2004-5 season)

So KFF should either style up or shut up !

On a quick update, FIFA has pledged to support of $165000(approx.Kshs. 11000000)to the KFF Premier League to help strengthen the clubs. This was reported by FIFA development officer Mr. Ashford Mamelodi saying this will be spread over 3 years and is meant to help clubs purchase equipment,sponsor training courses and provide information, communication and technology support.
Are these guys for real ? That money is enough for a single club to fund around 2-3 months operations without budgeting for some essentials such as management's remuneration. That's a pittance for assistance ! We should stop accepting such hand-outs and tell FIFA to get tough with officials before committing peanuts to the clubs.
More details check www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgcontententry.asp?category_id=5&newsid=98268

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Mourinho woes

As if not losing the Premiership to their rivals Man U was not enough, Jose Mourinho got a brush with the law when officers arrested him for arguing with police officers over his dog.
The officers had paid him a visit after suspecting that the dog had been taken abroad and back without the mandatory jabs to check rabies under the Rabies Order Act 1974. This led to its seizure under the Animal Health Act of 1981 and the aforementioned Act. Mourinho was attending his club's players' party.
news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/teams/c/chelsea/6660485.stm
Poor Mourinho !What it rains, it pours! But you never know Saturday the 19th of May might be that sunny day that you've waited for so long this season !

NBA Play-offs Update


Ben Wallace tries to drive past Chris Webber of the Detroit Pistons.

Told you ! A few hiccups here and there. Chicago Bulls took the Play-offs back to Chicago with a win over Detroit Pistons to take the series to 3-2 in favour of the Pistons. If they make it and upset the Pistons, it will be another upset of this season after Miami Heat(reigning champs) were swept in their series by, yup the Bulls.
In the other game of the night Utah Jazz wrapped up their series by ousting Golden State Warriors 100-87 (4-1). They make to the Finals for the first time since their most outstanding players of the 1990s , Karl Malone and John Stockton played what was their last series with the team.
Tonight the other teams featuring will try to square it out with the Cleveland Cavaliers almost done with New Jersey Nets while San Antonio Spurs have a tricky game with the Phoenix Suns in what seems like a close tie to call.

What might as well be a good run, Touch-down!

Tusker Safari Sevens! This is one of the few sweet stories coming from sometimes disappointing Kenyan sports-scene. This year marks the 12th edition since the event started. It’s grown to be a major sports event on the Kenyan sports calendar.
A round of applause goes to Kenya Rugby Football Union-KRFU under the watchful eye of current chair, Mr. Richard Omwela. They have consistently been able to attract a host of teams’ local and international as well as a breed of fans that have become faithful to the game over the years.

A second round can go to East Africa Breweries Limited for marking out the event as one of its flagship events where it acts as the main sponsor. This has become a powerful sports event (brand) not just locally but regionally. See what creative marketing does for a company?
This has meant a huge boost to their promotion of their flagship product-Tusker-which is identified as togetherness, endurance and strength.
I am not sure but I am of the opinion that KRFU should now pursue a place in the International Rugby Board –IRB Sevens circuit. The Kenyan team has shown great improvement albeit with intermittent poor results.
It would also be important to note some things that ought to be considered not just now but for the continued success of the event include;
- sale of the tournament’s TV rights,
- production of event memorabilia/promotional items,
- Additional sponsors to aid in providing support services such as media coverage, entertainment, catering, transport, hosting visiting teams and catering as a few examples.

In addition as told by Neil Mackenzie –of Ogilvy One-Head of Sports Marketing and Events; sports marketing and especially Tusker Safari Sevens has had problems in selling the event. This is in the form of TV rights where there are no competitive advertisers to title sponsors, post-production as well as overseas and satellite programming (DStv for example), selling airtime and screen branding to mention but a few. It is said that in Kenya there is little trust by investors in sporting rights owners’ ability to deliver and production houses are not capable of exciting and engaging the audience (both TV and live).
But when all’s is said and done, I think Mr. Richard Omwela you are onto a good thing. Kenya teams keep pushing! I’ll be blowing the horn in June 2007!

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

NBA Play-off updates....crunch time's a coming !

Well it's an interesting twist on events ! Phoenix Suns have managed to level San Antonio Spurs best-of-seven series Western Conference with a win yesterday 104-98. This is going to be interesting for the Suns as they try to upstage the Spurs.

In another game, Cleveland Cavaliers sneaked a quick basket to take the series at 3-1 (87-85 victory) over the New Jersey Nets.
In today's games Detroit will look to end the series with a victory over Chicago while Utah will hope to finish off Golden State. But I'm sure there might be a suprise or two ! The Conference Finals ought to be serious fights of supremacy as each of the final teams look to out-do each other. Are we looking at some re-alignment of the strong teams? Is it possible that there will be a new NBA Champ from a previously unheralded team? Keep watching ....NBA...it's fan--ta--stic !

Golf and Tourism…well it’s a gold mine!

Yes! Finally got it…. It’s true that there’s lots of ideas lying out there just waiting to be dug out. Golf & tourism… yes that’s it! Golf ought to be not just a game but more of a lifestyle. According to one Mr. Tob Cohen a retired head of a Dutch major conglomerate, golf is one of the best sports and lifestyles that Kenya can offer. Through his firm, Tobs Kenya Golf Safaris, he is out to use the game from that of the elite to one of leisure and foreign tourist who would want to add variety to their trip.

He has set out to make this country a host with ‘world-class standards and service with widely available tee-times’. Since he started operations in 1991, he has been able to lure an average of 2-55 golfers/sport tourists, with the bookings averaging 7-10 days with some even extending to 14 days. He has also helped start the Kenya Golf Marketing Alliance with two other competing firms.
This seeks to promote Kenya as a golfing destination, achieve a sizeable share of the world’s golf travel market as well as attract medium to high spending tourists not only interested in game safaris but also beautiful Kenyan fairways. This he justifies with the facts below;
- There are about 60 million golfers worldwide translating to a potential spend of US$ 12 billion. With just 1 % of that population, it would translate to around US $ 20 million (approx. KShs. 14 billion).
- These golf tourists spend 50 % more than your average tourist.
- Big destinations for golf tournaments include ; Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal in Europe; Carolina, Arizona and Florida in USA ; Dubai, Thailand and Turkey in Asia with South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Mauritius from Africa taking the top slots.
Quick Facts about Kenyan Golf:
There are 40 golf courses: 12 of which are 18-hole; 10 are for championships events and 6 are within a 20-km radius of the City of Nairobi.
The oldest golf course (18-hole) is Royal Nairobi Golf Club opened by the British colonialists in 1906.
The latest golf course is using a David Jones design. There is also the pay-and-play golf course at the Golf Park at Ngong Racecourse-managed by top Kenyan golfer, Jacob Okello.
Do check this link for much more details on this interesting venture www.kenya-golf-safaris.com
Other important links:
www.shop-of-golf.com
www.worldgolf.com

Monday, 14 May 2007

Are there any Kenyan Sports brands ?

The world over, we've had some outstanding sports brands ( either personalities or teams, or even leagues)! On this list I would include such sports people as Michael Jordan, Pele, Tiger Woods,Williams sisters, Chicago Bulls (in the 1990s), Manchester United, NBA , UEFA Champions League. In Africa, they maybe few and far between but I'd quickly state; South Africa's Rugby team, Cameroon's national football team, Mozambique's Maria Mutola as the list narrows down.
In Kenya, do we have what we would call true Kenyan brands ?
Before we answer that question, let's look at what would qualify one to be a brand.
From Wikipedia.com, a brand is a collection of images and ideas representing an economic producer. Another defition which might be more appropriate in our discussion identifies a brand " a unique and identifiable symbol, association, name or trademark which serves to differentiate competing products or services. Both a physical and emotional trigger to create a relationship between consumers and the product/service".
I will highlight a brief on Michael Jordan to give a preview of what a brand( name) could do and its effect on the person and figures too.

Michael Jordan!- one of sports most marketed and coveted sports figure in history. He was a basketball player from mid-80s, retired twice in the mid 1990s and after winning first '3-peat' in NBA Play-offs before making a comeback with the Washington Wizards in 2001.
His endorsements while active (and some still extend to this day) included MacDonalds, Chevrolet,Coca-Cola, Gatorade and most important Nike. At the height of his career, he was generating $40million worth of endorsements with Nike alone accounting for $17-18 million alone. In 1998, Fortune magazine estimated Michael Jordan's impact on the US ( and to some extent the world) economy at a whopping $10 billion.
In addition to that, during his playing days, he was able to make such a huge impact to the NBA, that they recorded some of the highest TV rights earnings which helped the League reach a wider global audience than anytime before.Even after his retirement, there have been instances where he has added his clout to the game influencing major decisions such as acquisition (but since relinquished) of Washington Wizards, endorsement of a US-manufactured vehicle among others. His profile is just too good to ignore and to sweet a marketer's delight !
Come back to Kenya. Do we have what it takes to reflect such effectiveness and enormity of a brand in sporting circles ?
I have done my quick ( not very conclusive & quantitative) analysis and come up with a few candidates for this. You're entitled to a comment (addition or subtraction) from the list;
Individuals:
1.Paul Tergat- Rating AA
2.Catherine Ndereba- AB
3.Conjestine Achieng- AB
4.Steve Tikolo- BA
5.Jacob Okello-BA
6.Dennis Oliech-BB
7.Dunford brothers- BC
8.Dorcas Nandasaba/Janet Wanja-BC
Teams:
Rugby Sevens National team
Cricket National team
Kenya Pipeline women's volleyball
Tusker FC
Harambee Stars
Kenyan X-country team
There are also other upcoming athletes and sporting personalities that I would add to this list;
such as
Robert Cheruiyot
Fatuma Zarika
Pina Ercolano
Dennis Mwanja
More on this in an article to be published soon....
Thus let's reflect on this critically and see what possibilities there are to using these sports people and teams to enhance our products (as private/public companies), awareness creation campaigns such as Keep Off Drugs etc, and even as our country's Goodwill Ambassadors. That way we will not only appreciate their efforts as individuals but also have them engage our youth in productive activities. It will show that sport can help make a living too.

All Africa Games 2007

The Ninth All African Games begin in the Algeria in July. It is another opportunity for Kenya to showcase its sporting prowess among Africa's top countries. Some of the disciplines will use the Games as qualification to next year’s Olympic Games in Beijing.
As such it ought to be an urgent and serious assignment and it would only be prudent that the preparations be underway and be taken with much caution and skill. The reality? Most of the sports associations are yet to start their schedules and arrangements are not even in place.
This is the sad affair that is our country's sporting affairs. The government has put in place the management team led by Eng. Maurice Aluanga. The Minister has also added that much of what needs to be done ought to be laid out by the individual disciplines with the Government only assisting in the final stages.
Are you seeing what I see ? "We do not have enough funds to conduct training for the players"...." we ask the Government to intervene...blah,blah,blah"...."we'll have to leave out some disciplines due to lack of funds "
What more can I say?

Weekend that was

Over the weekend a number of sporting events were on;
Football:
First the end of the English Premier League. This saw Man U end the season on a low with a loss over Tevez-fired revival West Ham 1-0 hence the latter's survival. Chelsea also drew with Everton and Drogba came to the rescue as usual. Arsenal summed up their woes with a disappointing 0-0 draw over Portsmouth. Wigan managed to beat Sheffield United to stay in the Premier league.
Further analysis of the League in later posts.
In Spain, Real Madrid hold a joint top position with Barcelona with 66 points to go as the Primera Liga enters its final stages, with four games each to go. It ain't over yet with the title likely to go either Barca's, Sevilla or Real Madrid's way !
In Germany, Stuggart went top of the league after a win as Schalke lost and Werder Bremen had another disappointing weekend.It's a tricky one too to call with 3 games left for each team in the Bundesliga.
Italian football saw Roma seal second position with AC Milan & Lazio fighting for 3rd position. Juventus look certain to be promoted back to Serie A with a win over the weekend.

Rugby:
Kenya's Shujaa team -Seven-a-side team lost 12-17 to Morocco in the Plate semi-final of the African Rugby Confederation held in Tangiers, Morocco. This was after losing in the main Cup to Zimbabwe 0-19. Some of the members will join the Sevens team scheduled to play in the last 2 rounds of the IRB Sevens circuit in London and Edinburgh in the coming weeks. There is also the Tusker Safari Sevens which hopes to be included in the circuit soon.

Volleyball:

Kenya Pipeline pipped KCB 3-2 sets to win the East and Central Africa Club Championships (women). This was a foregone conclusion as the Kenyan teams continued their dominance over the game in the region. Most of the members of these teams however were using this to prepare for the All-Africa Games which are scheduled to be held in Algiers, Algeria in July.

Motorsport:

The F1 results from the Spanish Grand Prix had Felipe Massa-Ferrari win this over Lewis Hamilton-McLaren who now takes the Championships lead by two points over team-mate Fernando Alonso. This is bound to be an interesting season for the young drivers rival each other for the title fight which is likely to go down to the wire. This was Massa's second 1st position finish of the year.


Basketball:
From the local scene, confusion reigned this weekend as some of the fixtures had to be rescheduled following the dissolution of Ulinzi men's team and Telkom women's team. However Co-op Bank continued their good start to the League in the men's Premier League. Sprite Storms also look good to challenge for the top slot in the women's top flight league.


While in the NBA Play-offs, Chicago Bulls pulled one back to fight a sweep by the Detroit Pistons by winning 102-87 in game 4 of the best of 7 series of the Eastern Conference semi-finals. Utah Jazz in the other game showed why they ought to be a challenger for the NBA Finals by beating Golden State Warriors 115-101 to take the lead 3-1 in the Western Conference.

Boxing:
Thomas ‘Black Rhino’ Okusi clinched the East and Central Africa heavyweight boxing title through a technical knockout when he floored Ahmed Eddie Dyle of Tanzania in the first round.
It was disappointment for the fans as the non -title fight which was the curtain-raiser for the other fight,turned out to be a mismatch .This was the fight Conjestina Achieng and Jalala Salum of Tanzania . The Tanzanian was worse than a novice boxer and it was no surprise that she lost.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

End of English Season 2006-7

Torture and long weekends are on the way brothers ! The end of the English Premier League comes to an end this weekend and it must be bliss to all the ladies who've lost their gents to the game.
The games to be played on Sunday the 13th will be mostly formalities except for the third, fourth and fifth-bottom teams. Wigan, West Ham and Sheffield United all have the possibility of slipping to the less lucrative First Division League ( also known as the Nationwide League). There was an issue of West Ham being deducted points for fielding Carlos Tevez-who was said to have been acquired under some dubious deal. However he has managed to salvage his season and come back in a big way making sure that West Ham at least have that one last chance of surviving in the Premiership.
As for the top teams,the battle will be for third place with Arsenal hoping to pull a fast one on Liverpool (who have decided to go for the UEFA Champs League glory instead).
Some interesting takes on the 2006-07 season coming soon......!

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Kenyan Basketball Scene-Sad Story


As I write this,it pains me a lot to see a sport which has so much potential and appeal go slowly almost sinking into oblivion. What happens with Kenyan sports? Is it the audience that gets bored so quickly ? Is it the officials who are lethargic to change (hence maintain the status quo)? Or is it lack of support and sustainability mechanisms which make this happen?
I've looked at a couple of sporting disciplines and the same line keeps repeating itself....We're unable to continue supporting the team(s)/league/federation..hence our withdrawal from the sport ....
Last week's story about Telkom's and Ulinzi sudden dissolution from the Kenya Basketball Premier League added another epitaph to the crowded scene that is the 'grave'of Kenyan sports. This means that two of the top-tier teams have left without much ado from the League.
If I'm not mistaken, last year there was the withdrawal of Coke-Kenya's sponsorship of the men's team. I'd also think there was another team that was dissolved for the same reasons. What is wrong ?
I'd look at this from three different points;
1. Fan base
2. Private support(vis-a vis Government intervention)
3. Federation's role.
1. Fan-base: Most sports anywhere in the world need fans to be able to get some sort of income from their operations. Be it live action or pay-per-view this means there has to be a fan base. What incentives are there for a fan intending to watch a live game at the Nyayo National Gymnasium in a game e.g. between Mennonites and Postbank ?
Are there any improvements or additional activities that can be added to make it possible for me to look forward to a game of basketball either at Nyayo or any of our TV channels in Kenya ? Answer YES.
2. Private support(Government intervention): Most private firms(read companies here) invest a lot in their companies. This is in terms of manpower, IT and also in PR and marketing. What better way would it be to have not just a sporting complex but also a team in most of the disciplines? This will not only give the company much-needed public awareness but the employees will be able to harness their skills not just at their work-places but in the fields of play too. It also will reduce the advertising and publicity budget substantially (i.e. especially so for winning teams).
It should also be noted that for an investor(both private or public) to be able to make a return, some initial capital must be put in. This would be the case in building of sports complex, stadia, gymnasiums, play fields among others. There must be specialised training in all sectors not just in the field but also in management of the teams and resources.
3. Federation's role: It is the responsibility of the Federation ( or Association/Union) to see to it that they have a successful league or framework under which it works and runs its affairs in. No reasonable person wants to be associated with failure. It is also the duty of the same to ensure that all branches of the main organisation are working and are active enough.
This makes it possible to detect any problems or suspect moves that may ruin the organisation's goals. It would also be prudent to welcome views not just of the public, but outsiders, stakeholders and other interested parties to be able to carry out a transparent review both internally and in the eyes of the public.

That's my take on this.
I would be willing to offer more insights on the same at a later date but I'd be jumping the gun on ongoing work. Keep here for more on this !

Monday, 7 May 2007

Weekend Wrap

Being a weekend ,there was enough sporting action for everyone. Let's take a quick tour;
Football:
I'll not comment on the local scene just yet (check previous posts for reasons).
As such let's take the European circuit starting with England.
Man United corked their bottles of champnagne albeit a day after their win at Manchester derby. They'd won the game against Man City 1-0. Closest rivals Chelsea could only manage a draw at Emirates after making a late rally and equalising through Michael Essien. Thus the Wednesday game will be as one commentator said, "for the Man United players to blow kisses to their fans at Stamford bridge"
Spain: Barcelona still lead though Real Madrid kept the race tight with 3-2 win over Sevilla.
Italy: Inter Milan have long taken the league. Roma ,Lazio and AC Milan follow in pursuit of second, third and fourth place.
Germany: The fight for first place is between Schalke 04,VFB Stuttgart and Werder Bremen with Bayern Munich having lost the fight hence settling for fourth place.
More info on www.soccernet.com
Basketball:
First in the local scene, shock news greeted the fraternity after Ulinzi - men's team and last year's winners of the League Play-offs had sponsorship withdrawn by the Department of Defence. Telkom women's team also lost support and also lost almost all their players through the ongoing restructuring at Telkom. They were also the reigning women's champs in the play-offs. As such the League has lost two of its top sides. More on this on another story. Check www.eurobasket.com/africa/kenya for more stories.

As for the NBA Play-offs, the favourites continued where they left for game 1 of the Semi-finals of the Conference games.
Cleveland Cavs 81- New Jersey Nets 77
San Antonio Spurs 111- Phoenix Suns 106
check www.nba.com for more details.
Boxing:
Oscar de la Hoya lost to Floyd Mayweather in a 12 round fight. The WBC light middleweight fight was more of an 'absorbing fight rather than a classic fight' with de la Hoya starting out well before showing some exhaustion and losing points to Mayweather in later rounds.

Mayweather who managed to get his father back into his camp in time for the fight ( Mayweather Sr had been coaching de la Hoya previously...talk of blood running thicker than water...)had his 'prayers' answered as the decision was announced. This was billed as the richest boxing bout ever having netted a record $19 million in arena tickets within 3 hours and was the most watched at $55 for pay-per view in the US.
Golf:

Tiger Woods fought to come back and win the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte by two strokes. Woods hit a three-under 69 to finish on 13 under, two clear of second placed Stricker. Phil Mickelson and Rory Sabbatini tied in third place.
Motorsport:
Frenchman Sebastien Loeb won the Rally of Argentina to make it 3 out of 3 in the World Rally Championship. He managed to stave off stiff opposition from Marcus Gronholm by giving him a 36.7 second lead into the last special stage of the Rally.
Another Finn Mikko Hirvonen rounded off the podium finishes. The standings carry the same semblance with all the 3 retaining their positions in 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively as they go into the next round of Rally of Italy later this month.

Quick Note


As it were, Kenya Airways lost its personnel and the passengers on their flight from Cameroon-Douala-KQ Flight 507. Sending hearfelt regards to families,friends and all who have lost in the tragic news over the weekend.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Martial Arts - a few lessons !


I have encountered enough comments from people who do not understand the different form of martial arts. They keep confusing Tae-kwon-do with Shotokan and other forms. Let me just say it's quite a tricky sport since most forms of arts emphasise on either hands or legs or even both.
"A basic understanding of the purpose of martial arts is to defend oneself. And one has to pledge that he would only use his or her skills for self defence before embarking on this task," as one Kaizer Karimbhai a martial arts expert in Kenya would say. He also adds a basic in all forms of martial arts, ‘Never strike the first blow’.
Most of the arts have their background from Asia more so China, Japan and Korea. Other forms may have originated in Brazil (i.e.capoeira). From Wikipedia, martial arts vary widely, and may focus on one or more of these areas:

I.Striking
a)Punching - Boxing, Shao-Lin Long Fist, Wing Chun
b)Kicking - Capoeira, Savate, Taekwondo, Taekkyon
c)Other strikes (e.g.Elbows, knees, open-hand) - Karate, Muay Thai

II.Grappling
a)Throwing - Glima, Judo, Jujutsu, Sambo
b)Pinning Techniques - Wrestling, Judo
c)Joint lock - Aikido, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Hapkido, Jujutsu, Malla-yuddha

III.Weaponry
a)Traditional Weaponry - Fencing, Gatka, Silambam, Kendo
b)Modern Weaponry - Eskrima, Jukendo, Jogo do Pau

Now let's say I'll focus on those that are practised frequently and moreso in Kenya. Talking of which Kenya has been represented in continetal championships in Tae-kwon-do and won a number of gold medals. Do we have anyone out there who could please give me some background on this? Trying to get some of this information is quite hard. Most federations have offices which serve as monuments more than functional places of work.

Golf- Sports tourism


Sometime back in some Sunday paper, there was this story about some interested investor who is willing to work in Kenya and make golfing a culture in Kenya as well as encourage sports tourism. This is to break from the past of just visiting parks and watching traditional dancers (no offence to all of you !)
It's a breakthrough idea that ought to be taken very seriously. I have been following this with interest I now understand why the big shot firms in Kenya fall over themselves to sponsor golf. The level of professionalism not just in the playing but also in the management is an envy of most sports. Hard to replicate ? I don't think so !

Take this, Kenya Golf Union found it in themselves to develop a golf course in Ngong Racecourse to help train amateur and lay people in golf. It is also an affordable option for those not able to pay for club membership.
Check out www.kgu.or.ke Quite a detailed and informative website for that !
Thus the idea of sports tourism ought to be given much thought not just in golf but even in other sporting disciplines. Imagine seeing Kobe Bryant at Nyayo Gym , Ronaldinho at MISC-Kasarani or even Tiger Woods playing a round of golf at Windsor Golf & Country Club.

World's Most Valuable - Football Teams & Players



Since I've decided not to comment on Kenyan soccer, here's a preview of the most valuable clubs in the world and a list showing the richest players too. In a survey done by Forbes, the top team is Manchester United. This is according to the 2005-2006 season.
Given the take-over by the Glazers and the dominance in the last season of the English premier League, I guess it's justified. They also enjoy some of the most loyal fans and have the best attendance in terms of gate collections. They also boast of the widest fan base. They have a division that does merchandising that accounts for between 3-6 % of revenue. It's worth $1.453 billion (approx KShs. 101.71 billion)with revenues of $ 310 million( approx Kshs.21.7 billion)
The second team in the list is Real Madrid having taken advantage of a star-studded squad in the last three seasons. But the results have not been very good ,meaning reduced gate collections and also the early exit from the Champions League has meant reduced TV ratings.
The third (suprise, suprise !) is Arsenal. This was after last year's appearance in the Champions League Final as well as the building of the new Emirates Stadium. This improved their gate collections making them only second to Old Trafford in terms of filling the stadium.
Complete List:
1.Manchester United
2.Real Madrid
3.AC Milan
4.Arsenal
5.Bayern Munich
6.Juventus
7.Chelsea
8.Internazionale Milan
9.Barcelona
10.Liverpool


As for the Richest player, Ronaldinho replaced David Beckham at the No. 1 slot. Given the pre-World Cup success that 'Gaucho' had with the win in the Champions League and the Spanish League, it was only a matter of time.
This might a temporary situation since David Beckham has signed a summer deal with Major League Soccer side L.A. Galaxy . This will surely enhance his image as a sporting icon. The third on the list though this is a suprise even to my person is Ronaldo( A C Milan).
Complete list:
1.Ronaldinho- $ 29.5 million
2.David Beckham- $29.1 million
3.Ronaldo-$22.1 million
4.Wayne Rooney-$20.4 million
5.Michael Ballack-$19.1 million
6.Thierry Henry-
7.Zinedine Zidane(retired)
8.Fabio Cannavaro
9.John Terry
10.Steven Gerrard
More details ,check www.forbes.com/lists/2006/34/340009.html
I'm sure these figures have changed not just for the clubs but even for the players earnings. The Champions League has been a real money-maker for the clubs and is truly lucrative for European clubs. It also shows the level of commercialisation that has taken sport which ought to be a future for the good of the sportsmen as well as the clubs.
Scratch,scratch....KFF can you hear me ?

Rugby Sevens update



The IRB Rugby Sevens moves into the second last round in Emirates London Sevens from the 26th-27th of May 2007, before closing up at Edinburgh.
Kenya has been pooled with New Zealand, Scotland and Italy. That's a tricky pool and the boys will need miracles to go through to the Main Cup. But wonders never cease !
We'll be watching ...

NBA Play-off updates



Only the third time since the series was revised, an eigth-seeded team has eliminated a first seed in the NBA Play-offs.
Well, Golden State Warriors beat Dallas Mavericks -the top seeds in the Western conference and favourites to win the play-offs this year. The team led by Baron Davis and former Indiana Pacer Stephen Jackson saw them off in the 6th game beating them 111-86. Couldn't have been a more comprehensive victory for the doubting Thomases !
The other game of the night, Utah Jazz pushed the Houston Rockets to the 7th game which means it could go either way. That's a tricky one to call !
More info check www.nba.com

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Motorsport...WRC circles



Since our very own Safari Rally is yet to make it for the WRC circles, I feel it's fair to give a preview of other WRC events and standings so far. But I still feel WRC erred in throwing out the Safari Rally. It has never been clear and they always have flimsy reasons and postponements of readmitting the Rally.
From the start they said that a couple of things including, safety measures(e.g.fan management), longer term sponsors,day-time racing legs to be scheduled. They also argued that hosting the Rally in the African terrain had proved to be an expensive affair. In the last 3 years or so, I can say organisers have been sweating their bums to get most of these things in order. Introduction of Special spectator stages has been effected; KCB has come in big (kudos to them -but can somebody tell me where motorsport cross paths with Banks...that's just me !);most of the legs are now done during the day as opposed to late-night trips across the Savannah. Still WRC has said it's not to par especially with timing and officiating. My goodness...they should just let guys know the Rally ain't going back soon and that's that !


Back to the story ! Sebastien Loeb leads the standings after the Rally of Portugal. This was after Marcus Gronholm was given a five-minute penalty thus effectively making lose a podium finish. The details are as below;
Rally of Portugal result:
1. Sebastien Loeb (Fr) Citroen 3 hours 53 min 33.1
2. Petter Solberg (Nor) Subaru 3:56.47.0
3. Daniel Sordo (Sp) Citroen 3:58.38.4
4. Marcus Gronholm (Fin) Ford 3:59.10.2
5. Mikko Hirvonen (Fin) Ford 4:00.41.2
6. Daniel Carlsson (Swe) Citroen 4:01.46.3
7. Gianluigi Galli (It) Citroen 4:03.12.7
8. Jari-Matti Latvala (Fin) Ford 4:04.18.0
9. Manfred Stohl (Aut) Citroen 4:06.19.1
10. Andreas Mikkelsen (Nor) Ford 4:07.24.7

Driver Standings:
1. Loeb 38 pts
2. Gronholm 37 pts
3. Hirvonen 30 pts
4. Sordo 19 pts
5. P Solberg 16 pts

Manufacturer Standings:
1. BP-Ford 67
2. Citroen Total 59
3. Subaru 27
4. Stobart M-Sport Ford 21
5. OMV-Kronos Citroen 21
For more info log on to www.wrc.com
The next round is the Rally of Argentina which started yesterday followed by the Italian Rally from 18th-20th May.

Kenyan Government honours athletes



As the saying goes, Mcheza kwao hutuzwa (looselt translated, He who plays well at home is handsomely rewarded)!
The Kenyan government has found it itself to be rewarding athletes and sportsmen in general for their exploits in the country and abroad. Yesterday saw the World Cross-Country team rewarded for a sterling performance at home during the championships in March at a luncheon hosted at Carnivore Restaurant.
www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgcontententry.asp?category_id=5&newsid=97241The team was awarded around KShs.2.3million and in a departure from the past event the coaches were awarded KShs. 20000 each. That's commendable but it should be spread to other sports as well and also serve as an incentive even to private companies willing to engage in sponsoring and rewarding our sportspeople.
Top marathoners snubbed the event as they attended a similar one hosted by two companies showing some interest in our athletes.
www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgcontententry.asp?category_id=5&newsid=97236
Interesting, why don't we all get along and support our athletes as one?
SIDE BAR:
Could the Government also consider putting up a fund for such honours along with a Hall of Fame for outstanding sportpeople over the years ? Could they also hasten up in building infrastructure and sprucing up our stadiums as we look forward to next year's Beijing Olympics and maybe 2010 World Cup ?