For your local football fan, yesterday was another historic day in recent times for the game. This was in the famous derby between AFC Leopards & Gor Mahia. The streams of fans walking to the stadium at Nyayo in Nairobi West was quite a buzz. We decided to go the typical fan way and avoid the trappings of the media box and go down to the Russian stands.
Here's our take and learnings for KPL;
a) Ticketing - the queues were a bit too long and chaotic at some point prompting the breaking of one of the gates (Gate 3 or 4 if I'm not wrong). This could have been avoided if the match ticketing firm had distributed the tickets at outlets such as supermarkets and other retail outlets. Though still in its infancy, try printing more season tickets, that way some of the ardent fans would have been sorted and entered early enough. And what was this about VIP Stand only for the place to be packed beyond its seams. Have a clear allotment of the tickets per sitting area and demarcate them as such.
b) Branding - the branding of both team fans' is still wanting with only t-shirts available. The more enthusiastic Gor fans had a little more with vuvuzelas and some other own paraphenalia did its rounds during the game. No wonder they seemed more organised and louder (guess that proved too much for the players on the pitch, thus losing their focus...)
c) Security - for the umpteenth time, the security lapses at the stadium were horrendous to say the least. From the queueing where some kept jumping the queue until other fans objected, to the pitch where at some point some AFC fans started throwing objects into the field. From where we were, by the 80th minute, there were fans in another world thanks to some 'illegal smokes'. Could have sworn to have gotten a 'kick' too from all that smoke. Surely you don't want to know what would have happened if there was some ruckus or fracas post-match exit.
d)Entertainment (or lack thereof) - maybe it's because it was a week-day match, but that void needs to be filled urgently. Pre-match, mid-match and post-match entertainment was non- existent making the breaks a long bore. If you want to add value to your program, include some interesting skits like this
e)Transport - OK maybe most fans can't afford but can someone think of getting buses or vans to move the masses to and from a game?
f) Fan-clubs - None of the clubs had their fan-clubs actively selling merchandise on the day. How else do you wish to connect with your fans when you've nothing for them to look out for? Same would apply for season and other tickets.
g) Prizes and giveaways- you've to entice us to keep coming to the games by giving certain ticket prizes or give-aways.
h) Stadium Management - it might not be the clubs' fault but the stadium needs to be restricted to matches and sports events ONLY. If someone wants to hire it for something else, please let them make the necessary arrangements for the pitch not to be damaged. The army march-past for these 'idlers from the Barracks' can be done elsewhere like the Uhuru Park which is rightly made for them. Sports Stadia Management Board still smarting from the poor performance slumber....???
i)Autographs - Maybe it's a foreign culture but why didn't anyone think of capitalising on the appearance of MacDonald Mariga and fellow professional footballer, Dennis Oliech? Coca-Cola took full advantage earlier and appointed Mariga Copa Coca-Cola Goodwill Ambassador. Some of us may never get that close to these guys from the look of things while they are at the peak of their careers!....(chuckle, chuckle....)
j) Game Quality - Though Gor Mahia showed a slightly superior game and had superior ball possession, there is still room for improvement on the technical and simple ball techniques. Some of the quality was lacking and they need to do better if we are to keep coming for these games. Oh and AFC turned the tables by scoring a late winner to secure the 3-points.
From this, why can't Kenya Premier League also think of having games on a Friday evening and maybe let some of us go for a game before over-indulging as the weekend starts? The ticket sales from the Wednesday game give credence to this. We can't wait for the return leg of these two teams and other interesting fixtures if the Kenyan game is to sustain itself. Kazi kwako Mr. Elly Kalekwa!