Thursday, 4 March 2010

Sports Clubs - Institutional clubs, Community-driven or Tribal Affairs?

In the last few months, I have been feeding off comments and conversations about the need for sports clubs and more specifically football clubs to embrace ‘tribal’ outfits (for lack of a better word).
My dilemma though is that are we trying to re-live past days or create rivalries? Again what informs the decision is it the competitive nature or just some misinformed session? There is also the reasoning around the need for communities (read tribes) to rally behind their own.

Tanzanian football club Simba Union

Given the small matter of the 2007/8 election debacle I would trend on this one carefully. There is the perception that football thrives from certain parts of the country. True, but really wholly scientific.
In my humble opinion the clubs should be developed by the communities around them. What do I mean? For instance, we have areas such as Kawangware, Kangemi, Huruma, Spring Valley, Madaraka, Kileleshwa, and many more. The residents around these areas can develop football clubs right from the under 9 , under 13, under 15 and so on.
Structures such as we have with the Ligi Ndogo and what the Super Eight Tournament is trying to do should help. Then these can conglomerate around a common channel by having mini-tournaments and the winning team(s) be awarded.
Using Nationwide League and KPL these should then go up the ranks to eventually play at the top League. Of course some of these things are happening but not with the focus and the direction they ought to take.
Youth centres and clubs should be developed using the CDF funds and Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports which were intended for football in the 2008/9 Budget estimates. The long-abandoned FIFA Goal Project’s funds can also be secured and grants offered to the clubs displaying the best management skills.
Eventually these should be monitored on a regular basis and the wealth of talent brought to a common pool for the national teams which then train and meet on a regular basis.
Of course the clubs can also prepare business plans in consultation with the experts and the corporate world which is slowly starting to appreciate the potential of sports marketing. This can be done on an annual or semi-annual basis. This way clubs would be forced to prepare financial reports and potential suitors to conduct due diligence before making any commitment to the sporting outfits.
This can be replicated in other sporting disciplines such as rugby, basketball, and handball and as maybe pursued.
A line of contention is of course the institutional clubs from corporate firms which feel they can sponsor individuals from their companies to play in a team. This is usually tricky given the fluid nature of company management in most corporate firms and parastatals alike.

We also know what happens when the management changes hands and one top manager doesn’t find sense in sponsoring sports. Others would use the oft-made statement of rationalising, scaling down or whatever jargon tickles your fancy.
As the sporting season heats up in the local scene, let’s see what unfolds as the year trudges on. There are definitely interesting times ahead, but let’s be rational more than emotive which is not easy in sports!

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