Friday, 30 May 2008

Top 10 Earning Sportsmen

$$$ & you can take that to the bank ! This is what sports business has become. Where else does a lad come through only in his second season and signs an endorsement deal worth $20 million with the a shoe company? Adding to that shoe business where else does one retire not once but thrice from the same sport & still earns in excess of $31 million ?
Yeah had to be Sports ! True most of the money is well-deserved but some of it just sounds outrageous. Now check the list below of top 10 earners for the year 2007 and see whose signature we can be after for those fat cheques !

1. Tiger Woods ($100 million-Golf)- thanks in part to a well-dominated sport by Tiger together with endorsements left,right and centre. He has also been on top of his game even with the dip in form after the death of his dad.

2. Oscar De La Hoya ($43 million-Boxing)- this shrewd boxer has outboxed Don Kings to become one of the most sort after boxing promoters. What helps too is his charisma and showmanship during his boxing years. Last year he organised the biggest fights so far between one of his former opponents now stable boy, Floyd Mayweather & Ricky Hatton.

3. Phil Mickelson ($42 million-Golf)- his is a consistent chase for Tiger's position as well as worthy endorsements with Ford and Exxon.

4. Kimi Raikkonen ($40 million-Motorsport)- Thanks to the retirement of Schumacher and also the belief in his abilities by the Ferrari team making him the current highest paid Formula One driver.

5. Michael Schumacher ($36 million-Motorsport)- Had I said he retired ? Well, it was sort of leaving the field not wishing to ruin the shine off his sterling career. He's the most successful Formula One driver of our time and so too are his earnings.

6. David Beckham ($33 million-Football)- After helping Real to title last year's 2006-7 season, he quickly flew to the US thanks to some sports marketers who think the most photogenic footballer (Americans say soccer player) can lure fans to watch the game there. He also has serious endorsements with Adidas, Gillette to name but a few.

7. Kobe Bryant ($33 million-Basketball)- He is currently one of the best players gracing the game. Thanks also to endorsements made to Nike (after initially having done Adidas sneakers). Have you checked out his 'Jump over Aston Martin advert' or even the one he jumps over a pool of snakes ?

8. Shaquille O'Neal ($32 million-Basketball)- Another basketballer who's seemingly in the sunset of his career. He was traded in the last regular season to the Phoenix Suns but remains a formidable force in any team. He's also set up a company to look into property development which will look out for his interests once he retires.

9. Ronaldinho ($31 million-Football- His skills on the football pitch will attest to his reputation as one of the biggest players gracing the sport. Thanks too to endorsements from Nike,Lenovo and Pepsi which have seen him earn his way on the list.

10. Michael Jordan ($31 million-Basketball)- one of sports biggest icons is still counting his money to the bank. Even after retiring from active play 4 years ago as well as a messy divorce he can still endorse and assure you of a good sale of your product. He was and still remains one of Nike's biggest sports personalities.

Kenyan sportmen better be reading this. Next time I'll need to see one of you there. Yeah it's a thought !

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Rhino Charge: Still charged up 20 years on

For what started as a charity event, it has turned out to be a great day for drivers out to play wits with mother nature and the best of 4x4 vehicles. This year's event marks 20 years since the Rhino Ark Foundation-founded to help raise funds for the building of an electric fence to help fence the area around the Aberdare National Park-organised th event. This was to help resolve the animal-human conflict which has occurred over the years due to encroachment into the Aberdare forest.
The basics of the event are a venue 200 km off the City of Nairobi where drivers have no clue until the day of the event. They are given pointers on which trail to follow using GPRS and any other means to find the shortest route to the ultimate point. Teams are required to have at least 3-7 personnel who will help along the way to help the car get to its destination, by pushing, pulling, raising or at times adding weight to make it through the treacherous course.
Last year the Foundation was able to raise around KShs.75 million (approx. US$ 1.15 million). This is quite tidy for any charity event worth its salt.
The main attraction comes around because most participants are prominent people and also local business magnates. Others also come from well-known families with corporate connections to be able to attract sponsorship to such an event.
They do bring along their families for such events making it one big play-day for one and all. It also has the added benefit of being out of the hustle and bustle of what has become a congested Nairobi. Huh, smell that fresh air .....

Go out guys, on the 1st of June, be patriotic but most of all be at the Rhino Charge when they do announce the venue on Saturday or Sunday morning.

Busy Long Weekend

For most Kenyans, this weekend will be one to look forward to. What with the end of month right in the middle of the weekend plus the added benefit of an extra day, thanks to the marking of a national holiday on Sunday.
As for me, much of the time will be spent running from one venue to the other as I have a myriad places to be. Be sure to enjoy yours too. Check out the brief of places you can be:
1. Motorsport- Rhino Charge,
2. Volleyball- East & Central Africa Volleyball Tournament(men & women),
3. Football- World Cup Qualifiers (Kenya vs Namibia- Windhoek),
4. Rugby- Final IRB Sevens round in Scotland,

That much is good enough to keep you warm in this cool weather !

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Kenyan Footballer feted

One of the longest serving Kenyan national team captains, one Musa Otieno was over the last 2 weekends feted by the team (Santos)owner of the team he played for in the last season of the South African Premier League PSL with a Player of the Year Award, along with the Chairman's Award, as presented by Mr Irvin Khoza.
Coming from Kenya which contributes low numbers of footballers to the League and also in light of what has happened in the attacks targeting foreigners ( Africans for that matter !), its quite an encouragement.
Seeing this too as the twilight years of one of Kenya's humble and most admired footballers of his generation, it shows that sports does reward the patient.
It is rumoured that he might try ply his trade in the US next season. But that will be confirmed as the new season starts anytime now with the Americans enjoying some sunshine.
As for SK, he earns a place in its annals as one of the most distinguished players to grace the local football scene.

Rugby Season- Anti-climax ?

Fans at the London 7s over the weekend.

From a computer game that we usually play at a favourite haunt, there is a saying one commentator makes, "sometimes you have them and sometimes you don't". This was the case with our boys at the 2nd last round of the IRB Sevens which is ending this weekend at Scotland.
London did not seem like the place to lose their mettle but apparently the confidence seems to have been battered and also there's a feeling of burn-out. To make matters worse, their counterparts at the 15-a-side game were torn to pieces by the Ugandan Cranes who pummelled them at the Kyandondo invitational.
That much said, they can rise to the occasion in the last game and look out for their best times closing the season at their best performance of 5th place which they ranked before the London series.

Kenyan Football: My Take

While I have been critical of Kenyan football authorities, over the weekend, I mustered courage to go watch the Kenyan Premier League games played at the Nyayo National Stadium.
My walk there was interesting as I thought I would find droves of people walking towards the stadium. The area had some activity going on thanks to an earlier engagement of Nairobi residents with the Dettol Heart Run which ends up being more of a walk or stroll than a run.
First Wrong:
The first gaffe I noticed was the sale of tickets being done at a single point from one side of the stadium's entrance. The guy's office was also some dinghy and narrow joint which made me almost refuse to pay for the games. Thanks to some 2 current coaches who were coming to view their perceived competition take on each other.
Once into the stadium, the game was underway and as such I didn't have much time to choose a vantage point. All the same, I managed a tidy place right below fans of one of the teams of the day, Thika United.
These guys had come with their fans all the way from Thika and had branded shirts ( Brookside but no milk !). They kept their cheers though unco-ordinated lively throughout the game. A few minutes later, the Deputy Prime Minister one Uhuru K and MP George Thuo arrived much to the cheers of the Thika United fans. Generally I would say there were about 2-3000 fans. Among others were Joe Kadenge- one of Kenya's most famous footballers,Sammy Omollo, Ronald Ngala and even Dennis Oliech were but a few of the more well-known footballers around.
Second Wrong:
As I sat myself down, I noticed some suspicious looking guys who kept throwing glances at me and some ladies who were sitting a few stairs from where I sat. This showed lack of proper vetting of entry points to check against rowdy and sticky fingered fans.

Point to remember:
These two games {Thika United vs Gor Mahia & KCB vs Ulinzi Stars } were being screened live on SuperSport. This was the second weekend of the live games as signed by Kenya Premier League and SuperSport(SS). Their(SS) personnel was all over the place. I noticed at least 5 cameras:- 1 mobile one, 2 behind each goal, 2 behind the main dias for a bird's eye view of the game.
Third Wrong:
The day's affairs were run by one Bernard Otieno -Senior Sports Editor K24 TV station. He tried getting the crowd worked every so often but that didn't seem to work. Again, the half-time bits were a bit stiff and boring though we had fans trying to win prizes by kicking a ball into an empty net from half bit of the pitch.
With time the crowd management between the intervals can be harnessed better.
Talking of the pitch, I must say Sports Stadia Management is doing a good job with the ground looking well-maintained, the stands fairly clean and tidy, and also thanks to the SS personnel, we had a first flood-lit game in a long time. With the place being quite chilly those lights helped since you just needed to stare & imagine the warmth from them !

Oh and the stadium too was branded though not so loudly with the day's teams colours. We had Brookside dominating with their blue & green, KCB with the green along of course with SuperSport colours and banners.
Fourth Wrong:
Back to the games: The quality was suprisingly worth watching at a stadium with either game providing some drama each half. The second game was particularly interesting with KCB making forays at Ulinzi's battle hardened soldiers playing ball. But dubious decisions kept being made by the officials who I feel ought to watch more advanced games to learn some of these techniques. Maybe the players knew they had the spotlights from the cameras were shining on them. Or maybe due to the likelihood of some scouts starting to make assault into the Kenyan game, they needed to show their skills too.

Image Courtesy of SuperSport
Overall I can say it was worth the money being at Nyayo. This effort is going a long way in turning the game around. I'll confess I'll be hard-put to stay at home if there are interesting fixtures on card and if the cold doesn't bite hard like it almost did on that Saturday. So I better see y'all out next time ! No excuses !

Monday, 26 May 2008

200 and coming out strong ......

I was reading one of my favourite articles in a paper the other day and the writer was celebrating his 620th article span over 50 years. That's one career to be made. As I write this, I'm also reminded of the person who introduced me to blogging ( God bless you with many more ideas.....L.L!)
It's interesting when you try engage in some work, at times you get appreciation, at other times criticism, other times no one even acknowledges you presence. But knock on wood every now and then. Keep your eye on the ball as coaches would say.
That much said, I'll continue blogging its an affair I started back in 2006 and it's slowly becoming a good habit or bad habit depending on which side you'd want to be. I'll strive to be as incisive as I can, not to write long blog articles when I can help it, not to be populist as some of our peers have become, never sensational while keeping it together for Sports!
Keep blogging , La Figaro !

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Englishmen in Russia

They say the ultimate for most sports is winning or being on top. Well, the English game has thus far come to 'win' us over. Today we witness two of the best English teams see who can get one further by winning Europe's most prestigious club league, UEFA Champions League.
Most of us will be glued to our screens , while others especially if your favourite team's among them will go to nearest watering hole to see it with friends and 'rivals'. The last few days has seen most local clubs prepare their locations for this game which crowns the European season as we wait for the Euro 2008 next month.
As I had said, English football has scored a victory here by bringing 2 teams to the Final (add a third which was eliminated in the semis). This is no wonder the English league has continued to attract huge viewership across the globe. But success as they say is won on the pitch. It will be sad that the English national team will not be at Euro 2008 ( ........see posts below)
. Though most football purists do not hold the national team in such high esteem, but that's for another forum.
May the best team win tonight !
- The winning team collects a Final's cheque of 7,000,000 million euros with cumulative earnings coming to a total of 39,592,000 million euros ( without the TV rights and sponsorship deals).
- This is the first Champions League final to be contested between two clubs from England, and the third time clubs from the same country have featured in such a match.2000, the final was an all-Spanish affair (Real Madrid beat Valencia 3-0), while clubs from Italy engaged in the 2003 final (AC Milan beat Juventus on penalties).

Basketball : One season ends while another begins

Logo courtesy of NBA.
Basketball enthusiasts are busy rubbing their hands with glee as the world's most popular basketball league NBA gets to its final stages as they enter the Conference Finals ( for the uneducated, there are 2 conferences:- East and West which are divided into divisions which number 6 namely; Atlantic ,Southeast,Central,Southwest,Northwest and Pacific.For further details, please check
This year's Conference Finals are mouth-watering as they come. The best teams in the regular season which also doubles up as the one with the most Play-offs wins, Boston Celtics is pitted against the Detroit Pistons-one of the meanest defensive teams in the League and also a recent regular play-off team in the Eastern conference.
From the Western Conference, the L.A. Lakers have their modjo back with Kobe Bryant leading the charge with a team which has gelled quite well in the regular season and finishing second best overall.They play against defending champions San Antonio Spurs who had it rough in the semis but showed the pedigree for the play-offs.
This one will be a close call, but my bet is that the Finals has Detroit Pistons playing L.A. Lakers and the Lakers winning it. But then again, I'm just a pundit.
Kenyan Basketball:
As things wind up on the NBA side, back here the season has gotten underway and teams have made quite a number of changes in their personnel. Going by what ought to be trades in the NBA, some teams have lost crucial players while others have beefed up their squads substantially. As seen in last season's League, the institutional teams such as Strathmore University,University of Nairobi better known as Terrorists, and USIU also known as Tigers, have shown their intentions to challenge regular play-off teams such as KCB,Co-op Bank and KPA.
The newly elected officials have not shown any significnat changes to the game yet. Maybe they are trying out some new ideas which will be coming in later this year. But as for now, we have to be content with a dull and nondescript league. I was amused the other day to show up at the more regular venue Nyayo Gymnasium only to find the place secured with ballot boxes and papers for last year's General Election. Can't the ECK or the relevant bodies find a more secure place to store them ? Why do they have to cut the game and our proximity for such dubious reasons ?
This shows the need though for Kenya Basketball Federation to develop or secure better and more basketball venues. Most colleges have up-to standard courts but then again why can't they partner with local authorities to develop these ?

Kenyan Raga Boys

For the last 2 legs of the IRB Sevens, Kenya will be appropriately represented by the boys who've had a great performance this season. Having shown promise in the last 2 season, the boys have to prove they are no shoo-ins in the party and hope to finish at the 5th or ambitiously the 4th position to rank among the top teams of IRB 7s circuit.
It would also serve them well coming into the local scene as they host the Tusker Safari Sevens as they impress upon their sponsors and justify their money's worth.
Talking of money's worth, Virgin Atlantic announced they would continue supporting the team for the next season . With none other than entrepreneur par excellence Richard Branson playing host to the team at some hotel in Nairobi, the company saw potential in this sport and have provided that much-needed support to them in the current season. The team hasn't let them down one bit !
Now that's what we're talking about. More money into sports !

What I found interesting as the team departed for London, the Kenyan team's (ought to be flying Kenya Airways)flight (Emirates) developed a problem. The team is sponsored by Virgin Atlantic. Interesting times we're living in !

Thursday, 8 May 2008

English FA sets it out for Capello

With Fabio Capello having taken over as English coach to become only the second foreigner to coach the England team, the Football Association has decided to set targets for him and the national team.
This comes after a dismal performance by one Steve McLaren who saw the English not qualify for the forthcoming Euro 2008 to be held in Austria and Poland in June. This is also contrary to the success achieved by the English clubs which sees 2 of its top teams sharing spoils of the UEFA Champions League on May 21st in Moscow.
I was gratified to note the FA gave him some time to settle down with a few friendlies which have seen Capello rotate the team and also try a mix of even the captains. So far so good. But the hard work lies ahead with FA asking for no less than qualification in ALL major competitions starting with the 2010 World Cup; at least a semi-final place in 2010 World Cup or 2012 European Cup. This is also coupled with the development of a National Football Centre (NFC)to be running by 2010. This is meant to nurture youthful talent to act as a feeder programme to the national teams and English clubs. Included in the targets is to host the 2018 World Cup based on the success of the preceding targets.
In relation to this, the FA had earlier this 2007-8 season tried to lobby FIFA for imposition of a quota which allows clubs especially those in the Premiership to have at least 5 players in the first 11 of the team.
Ain't this some proper planning ? While our local leagues wallow in poverty and lack of direction, the English FA sets its agenda and asks all those involved to get it right. Can't Kenyans learn something from their former colonials masters ? Can't they even start a partnership of soughts to develop youth centres like was done with Germany in the 70s & 80s ?
Well, for Capello now the road is clear. He just needs to keep the English press at bay ( Sven Goran Ericsson can tell you what they did to his private life), get the right players and work with club managers and keep his cool as he did at Real Madrid in 2006-7 season. You'll be serving English tea and muffins come 2014 !

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Rugby Weekend:June 20th-22nd -Tusker Safari Sevens

Hey for you rugby 'ruffians' as one local politician quoted sometime back, mark your calendars and leave the weekend of June 20-22nd free. Tusker Safari Sevens is on!
Officials sponsors East Africa Breweries committed a total of KSh. 24 million to the festival of games which marks one of the major highlights of our annual sporting calendar. For local enthusiasts, this will be a home-coming of sorts for our team which has been exceptional in the last 2 seasons.
Going into the last leg of the IRB Sevens Circuit, the team is ranked 5th, one better than last season. It has also seen more corporate support from Virgin Air which sponsored most of their travel over the Circuit and also offered training allowances for the players.
This year will be special with the nation trying to heal wounds of the early months of 2008. This should rally our citizens together and the Boys has better bring that trophy home.

Africa Club Volleyball -Prisons make it

While reading one of the local dailies I found an interesting bit in the sports section where Nairobi dwellers were asked what they thought about the Africa Club volleyball championships which were about to start.
That was like 2 weeks ago when one of the local teams meant to represent the country in the Games, Kenya Pipeline withdrew and thus left first-timers Kenya Prisons and KCB ladies teams to work for the title.
Most of those interviewed thought that we couldn't manage to take the bronze medal let alone the continental trophy. How wrong they were ! What was even more depressing, the Prisons Department which gives one of the teams its name and also part playing personnel was on a nationwide strike and pressing for better working conditions among other demands. If this wouldn't affect the team then what would ?
The ladies did prove they were on cloud 9 and went ahead to beat local favourites KCB and even after losing a game to Al-Ahly of Egypt finishing off with Mouloudia of Algeria in the Final. Congratulations to the ladies ! Mr David Lung'aho for showing the world that you can make it happen anywhere ( he coached Kenya Pipeline once as well as the Kenyan national team)!
How I wish this can be translated to the ladies national team especially in world championships where we seem to falter.

Monday, 5 May 2008

English Finale

Back in 1985 during the final of the UEFA Winners Cup ( now Champions League, the teams playing then Liverpool versus Juventus had one of the worst tragedies in football fatalities and led to English teams being banned indefinitely (lasting 5 years).
Some deep soul-searching and infrastructural development needed be done to bring back the game especially to the European audience back to its fore. And the Football Association administrators made some deliberate changes which have since bore fruition.
As can be seen on the European scene, English club teams have made such an impact that in the last 4 seasons, the UEFA Champions League has had at least an English team featuring. This year now will be an all-English finale and I guess the Football Association chiefs are filled with glee at the mention of this !
What's even more interesting is the fact that the 2 teams involved in the Finale are also chasing Premier League honours with the title race almost down to the wire between the 2 teams and 1 rank outsider ( Arsenal 2005-06 Champion League finalists).
Whatever outcome the Final of the Champions League will be , you can be sure the English teams will continue being of major impact on the European football scene. As to whether this translates to the English national's been ..well, it's nothing writing about but let's see what Fabio Capello does with his new term as English manager.