Friday, 29 May 2009

Kenyan Football dithers....

It is not anything new on Kenyan football. The usual noise about the national team has been covered elsewhere adequately. That the now infamous stadium naming disconcertation is still being discussed in Parliament, really no suprises !
Let's think though of the missed opportunities ;
1) Kenya's playing Nigeria in 2 weeks:- in protest, I will not even bother watching the game. We were to have some friendlies as part of the preparations but all we've seen is a mulish coach and non-committal club coaches and players. 
2) FIFA Confederations Cup:- In June also the winners of the respective continental cups at national level and the current World Cup winners congregate in South Africa, to test the grounds and preparedness of the host nation to host next year's World Cup. Kenya being the hub of the region is undoubtedly supposed to host a team or two even if it's for 3-5 days before they descend to SA. That is not looking good from my vintage point. With our priorities geared to self-destruction, other countries in the region are waiting with glee. Watch the Tanzanians and Rwandans too.
3) 201o World Cup:- It's no open secret that the South African will want to reap as much from the tournament as possible. There's a general feeling that maybe they are not sharing some of the fringe benefits expected from the same. They are working around the clock to ensure they get it right. Given the rivalry in regional and continental circles, and also our skewed politics; we're not in the picture. 
The lack of commercial commitment from sports associations (especially the KFF or is it Football Kenya?) has heightened this. Let's not be under any illusions that we can start making this happen next year, too late ! 
I will make a suggestion here ( after chatting with a leading sports administrator in Tanzania about their 2014 preparations), let's forget the 2010 World Cup and move on with life ! If there are good tidings from transit visitors , that's as much as we can hopefully organise well. As for the rest, let's start afresh.

Local Football Scene:
After hoping for fireworks for the first-half of the Kenya Premier League, I'm one disillusioned Kenyan. Though most clubs promised us quality games and with SuperSport screening the weekend games, they have not delivered the goods. With resignations and firings left, right and centre, you can expect the second-half to be as slow if not worse. 
Anyone willing to buy the KPL? We can sell it to willing-buyers (caveat emptor) as we're ransoming the rest of the country to hooligans and gangs. 

Rhino Charge Weekend

Wow, it has been a crazy week for those living in Nairobi. What with the rains which pour appropriately an hour or so before official working hours. Some of you have been wading through the waters into the house late into the night.
Not to worry. This weekend you can find yourself in the wild at the Rhino Charge, this time hosted at Mogotio- Rift Valley. The brief is to enjoy a ride out of town and engage in a race in the wild covering the shortest distance after briefing and using all sorts of means to get there.
All this is for a good cause as you would know the money raised is used by the Rhino Ark
 to fence the Aberdare Forest which is one of the country's water sources and major forest hosting wildlife which is a main attraction for anyone visiting the country.
Take the weekend off, it's going to be a long one (thanks to the holiday on Monday), enjoy the ride.

More Action:
As you make your way to the Rhino Charge on Sunday, do take a detour tomorrow to make a visit to the Great Rift Rugby tournament which starts today. This is one of the main attractions on the local rugby scene and coming post-Impala Floodlights , it is bound to be explosive. For more details check here. You can also watch the IRB Rugby 7s Series which comes to an end this weekend at the Edinburgh - Scotland Sevens-the last in the circuit. A good way to crown a great tournament. 

Thursday, 28 May 2009

English dominance, conspiracies and machinations

By now all you're hearing are chants of Viva Barca and the hollow excuses of ManU fans as they lick their wounds from the show  last night. Show yes it was, if you are a football fan( not to the extent of doing this), you must have loved what the Spanish team did at Rome.
My brief though takes me back to the disputed semi-final between Barcelona and Chelsea where one D.Drogba turned into one gawking menacing figure infront of the camera, screaming 'it's a disgrace'.  It was said that maybe there was a theory 
from the UEFA chiefs of containing English teams which saw 3 out of the last 4 coming from England. 

Well if you look at the amounts up for grabs, you would tend to see why they would want to spread more love across Europe. Sepp Blatter -FIFA's topdog and Michel Platini have never tried to hide their disdain for the English League, especially considering the commercial success that they have seen since 1992 and managed to eclipse most European football leagues. They are also against the high price tags that players continue to attract thus making it a free-for-all trade. 

Thank you my son....job well done ! Hehehe , hors de combat Anglais ...! Platini seems to tell wanderkid Messi

UEFA even instituted new measures to ensure that the 4th placed English team meets a worthy opponent from an almost competitive league, say in Germany, Italy, France or Spain. No more easy passes playing teams from Eastern Europe with little sting.

An Italian coach (or was it?) the other day mentioned that the English teams continue winning trophies but using foreign players thus not strengthening their national squads. I could agree with that since they've only won the World Cup (1966) and almost always are tagged as favourites by their rather excitable Press. 
Back to UEFA, I guess then the conspiracy against the English teams was fulfilled in a swashbuckling display of football.
Food for thought?

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

NBA : Mismatch or Underdogs come alive ?

Basketball enthusiasts will not doubt be seeing two of the best franchises  2008-9 season or two other franchises which have never won the NBA Finals ever ! Well, the media had hyped a Cleveland Cavaliers vs L.A Lakers more of  Lebron 'King' James vs Kobe Bryant finale ! The billing was for these two and who is hoping to be the 'anointed one' after Michael Jordan's era in the late 1980s and 90s. 
From what we have seen there is a shift with some of the so-called underdogs going basket-for-basket with the top teams. Orlando Magic which has appeared only once in the NBA Finals (then with young Shaq 'Attack' O'Neal and Afernee 'Penny' Hardaway-where did he go to ?) and never won any rings. As for the Denver Nuggets, this is their third Conference Final and hopefully first NBA Final. 
This shift has been occassioned by the very fluid market that has the players moving teams even within the season. These trades as they are called have meant that a team can start slow and look to make strategic buys within the season and as some of
 these do, strengthen for the Play-offs. The rigors and physical demands could also
 attribute to this. Another important factor is the wider appreciation of foreign players, meaning more players from the European and Asian professional leagues are making it into the NBA making it more competitive.
As I usually say, these guys know the business of sports and adopt to the rapid changes that the world sees on a day-to-day basis. If we can borrow just 30% of what these guys do, our sports administration can move miles ahead of others in the region. KBF, not even the scraps are coming your way....

Join me though in hoping to see the underdogs come through ( go Howard, go Billups) and let's see the new kids on the block ! 

NOCK Elections...same old same old !

One of Kenya's oldest sports association held its elections over the weekend with the usual controversies about this and that post. The association attracts some of the most lucrative deals ranging from sponsorship deals with the partners of the International Olympic Committee such as Nike and others; to annual grants from the same body and also Government support. 
Again the same officials are usual gallivanting across the world being lavished by various cities as they wish to win their votes as they bid for the Olympic Games. These among other trappings make more attractive than other associations in town. Given that their mandate too only becomes busy when the country's team is about to go for the Olympics, these guys enjoy one of the easiest rides in sports administration.
Thus when one veteran official lamented that he was being sidelined from the gravy train- ironic since he's also led the athletics' world with similar if not worse tactics- even though the second most powerful official from the same body was reportedly able to sneak in his nomination papers for the same position our official was fighting for.
Well, most of the officials maintained their positions but the exception ( and I hope she doesn't disappoint) is the election of Catherine Ndereba as a committee member. Her election is precedent since most sports bodies are led by retired hands in their disciplines. The transition she will make into sports administration may augur well for the future of sports in the country. I only wish the same was translating into the sports bodies....
But surely why do we need officials holding office for 2-3 terms yet they are not adding value to the sport ? Talk about a revolution !

Friday, 22 May 2009

Alcohol Bill: Are we fed up with investing in Kenya?

While I'm increasingly fed up with politicos in Kenya generally, I guess these guys have a way of into our skins than we thought. If not asking for more money for their bloated habits,they are busy greasing each other's hands to get this or that Bill or sanction passed or dropped. They have become busy protecting their turf's which are barely having any grass. But if what they are prescribing in the so-called Alcohol Bill is anything to go by, we can as well close shop and hand ourselves to the dryers! 
How do you prescribe to ban ALL forms of advertising relating to alcohol? From sponsorship deals, to the advertising in the media and any related form such as 'corporate social responsibility' will suffer from the
 ban. You're looking at investments worth over Ksh. 1 billion ( EABL spent KSh. 902 million in
 advertising alone last year coming in 3rd in the top 10 of monies spent in advertising in the country). Who comes up with this stuff anyway?
If the guys who draft these things are out of areas to pursue, they can talk a walk downtown Nairobi and see the realities of our harsh life in the City. 
And if they are trying to reduce the intake of alcohol, WRONG MOVE !True the trends we are seeing in the country need checking but banning ALL adverts won't change that. I'm remi
nded of what the US did in the 1920s & 30s declaring alcohol and tobacco 'sin products' and banning their sale. They became contraband and such attractive business for crime rings that they eventually had to revised the stand. Economic woes including the 1929-30s Great Depression did not save the situation ( can you see the similarities with what we are facing?)
Imagine not having the Safari Sevens, the Tusker Golf Open, the Kenya football team(however bad they play they are still Kenyans) without any branding on their shirts? Let's not give this thing a chance,I'm sure the companies affected will not take this lying down.
Truly our politicians have outdone themselves this time !

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

A Rose by any other Name….


Thanks to the short-sighted nature of our politicals, Coca-Cola has cancelled the KSh.117m deal with the SSMB. After what the Coca-Cola Country Manager, Alex Maditsi said is 'untenable' referring to the Minister's demand that the name be changed to Nyayo Coca-Cola Stadium. Don't we love shooting ourselves in the foot all the time? And we thought we were heading somewhere lest we miss the 2010 bus? A fellow Minister said it on Wednesday that we're not doing enough to attract business relating to the World Cup.Lost, truly despicable !

For those in the know, we had one of the ground-breaking moments to applaud the Sports Stadia Management Board pulling through a deal, having one of the biggest local stadiums named.

This went on well and even as the stadium hosted the national team in a qualifier in March, we were still smiling with glee at the prospects this had on the sporting world. But no sooner had the ink dried on paper than some Government operatives started throwing tantrums about this and that – not being ‘consulted’ the other being the name change…of course this is what they bought RIGHTS , duh?

Now I have never had serious reservations with the Minister in charge of sports (some of my kin think she’s always quick to jump into some glory which may not even have been associated with the Ministry’s efforts or none therein).

But getting messages from sporting enthusiasts about the insistence on the name “Nyayo” sticking to the stadium that is now Coca-Cola Stadium, I begun having my misgivings about the whole thing. If you don’t know sports business, please Ms Minister stick to the welcoming delegations and the visits to the Hill accompanying departing teams. You can also enjoy  a game or two of rugby in your many overseas trips as well as visit the major capitals of the world as a Kenyan is bound to win a marathon, road-race or athletic meet in any of those.

Please keep out of the business side of things, you’ve proved to be just like other Government operatives of which I have little respect for as many of the Kenyans can attest to right now.


SIDENOTE:The Sports Stadia Management Board was supposed to get its new head a few months back but the first appointee lost his life on a road accident while the current ‘appointee’ – (who incidentally served as an educationist in the national union…’****!!!??P????P)Two wrongs do not make a right (as cliché as it may sound)…follow the due process Ms Minister ! Tragedy, real tragedy……

Sports Purism

This tempest is not about to end anytime soon. Such has been the drama and disillusions in sports in Kenya that at times you wonder why we even bother follow our sporting scene. My misgivings have been on quite a number of things….

Starting with the basketball federation which could not resolve the issue of representation of clubs in the voting process- which I think has been long overdue, how else do you play the league without the clubs?- onwards to the ever-boring sagas of football in Kenya, the poisoned chalice that is sports associations in Kenya to the now irksome business of naming a stadium.

For sports purists and practitioners who hope to make sports in Kenya what it ought to be, these shenanigans WILL NOT STOP US from achieving that and for those who thought this fire’s been put out, THINK AGAIN !