Thursday, 24 June 2010

Africa Athletics Championships: Some Semblance of Action Finally...

Well, trying to outdo a major event such as the World Cup is truly an enormous task but Athletics Kenya is finally putting up some form of activity to back their word on the upcoming Africa Athletics Championships in last weekend of July to 1st August.
After securing title sponsorship through Safaricom and a term I've never heard before of 'The Presenting Sponsor', and also getting the Outdoor Advertising Association of Kenya to sign a deal that will see some major billboards give added visibility to the event; we can breath a brief sigh of relief.
The arduous task left for the association now is to make sure they can whip up local fans who have never really developed an appetite for athletics events , save for the road races and marathons that have become quite a feature in local calendars. The coverage also needs to be seamlessly and seeing as the support received so far is almost adequately covered, they can't afford to mess this one up.
We shall hope to gain some insights as we approach the event but the mean-time find more updates and info on the event here -

Sports Tourism : Another One from the StanChart Kenya

Seeing as it is, the current World Cup in South Africa has seen some of the best sports tourism packages developed and media platforms across the world are sampling the best that Africa has to offer. If you switch on to any major TV network or credible station and you'll see some interesting ads by popular tourist destinations and Kenya's not been left behind.
Building on the Magical Kenya communication to not only promote local tourism which has been previously overlooked, we are informed that the Kenya Tourist Board is in discussion with the Standard Chartered Bank - Kenya the franchise holder of the Nairobi Marathon to develop some package targeting sports tourism.
This would be some added boon to the event which has seen numbers soar only to stagnate in last year's event at just over 13,000 down from highs of 15,000 + in the 2007/8 races. There is word too that the meet may seek to attract some big names in the form of guest appearances and this might add the extra uumph that the event needs to make it sustainable and worth running for this year.
It will also promote the country's major attractions and the city's too in the same vein and seek to gain international prominence along the lines of the  London, New York or other World Marathon Majors circuit.
We welcome these developments if indeed they do take place and look forward to Kenyan sporting scene at least making its mark not just from the international meets but from locally developed and hosted events.

Image courtesy of Daryl & Sharna Balfour - 
Still talking about the running, we have the now major sporing event in the calendar going down this weekend at the Lewa Downs. Popularly known as the Lewa Marathon, it's a pet project of East Africa's biggest company, Safaricom which shall host runners at the Lewa Conservancy. The race is an ideal outing for the discerning urbanite who needs to get away from the city.
This year's event has some interesting partnerships with LG providing some big screens to ensure you the football fan does not miss any World Cup action as the tournament gets deeo into the knock-out stage over the weekend. For a worthy cause and to 'run in the wild' as they say, see you at the Lewa. For more details gp to

Liverpool's African Trip??? Word has it....

....that there is a football clinic coming up in August featuring some members of the technical bench of the English side, Liverpool. Given the new deal that the club signed in 2009 with the Standard Chartered Bank , to sponsor the club for the next 4 seasons ending in 2014 ; and the fact that Standard Chartered will be marking 100 years starting next month till 2011 -when the 100th year was as well as the relocation and finishing of its new headquarters on Museum Hill here in Kenya.  It seems like the football buzz has not missed the Kenyan scene after all... more details as we liven up the grapevine !

Friday, 11 June 2010

2010 World Cup - Should Africa Be Really Celebrating?

Over the last few days, with the world coming to the African continent, albeit on what is arguably the world's biggest extravaganza ( and longest too considering that we 'suffer' for the next 30 days), we have been mulling over what maybe a huge oversight for the continent's nations to consider now and future contests. There have been quite a number of issues that we need to observe and see what is REALLY in it ( pessimistic some may call it...) ;
 Image courtesy of
1) Publicity - While the media is obviously at a frenzy with every media house saying it's number one in this or that reportage, the last few years since South Africa was confirmed as the host of the tournament has seen some trying times for the continent. From the constant negativity on whether the country would be able to prepare the venues in time, to the intended ban of the vuvuzela, and over-exaggeration of security (shall cover it in a separate point this example). Surely if you look at it, this is the time the world needs to come to relax and absorb in some peaceful moments and what better place than what maybe the least unexploited and compromised continent thus far.

2) Security - as indicated above, the Western media has exaggerated some of the concerns that have risen over security arrangements for the visitors. While we cannot overlook this issue, it maybe of interest to see that some of the conditions that we are currently operating in were created by the very powers-that-be. Terrorism was not Africa's concern and SHOULD NOT have visited us if the US and other Western countries had not meddled in Middle East and parts of Asia. If what Kenyans endured in the last few days is anything to go by, there is surely not much to celebrate - making us feel like 2nd-class citizens in our own countries - BARBS!!!

3) Commercialisation ( Overdrive) - delving into some of the nitty-gritties of the tournament and the FIFA's marketing strategies make's one wonder whether its good for sports or are we approaching another crisis of sorts? From a tight monopoly in issuing sponsorship places to a huge booty that comes with the territory -calling the shots from a tight leadership structure- blocking out many a company that may have a stake or more in the game. While it is good for companies to commit to sport some money, some of the officials look more for greed ( to help finance their fancy lifestyles) than investing in the long-term growth of the game. We know about the hospitality issue here.We have also seen more autocracy than 'democracy' especially here in Africa where Confederation of African Football CAF's made to look like the whipped kid and federations forced to put up - if Kenya's case is anything to consider. There is the issue of bribery and match-fixing which rears its head every once in awhile
The financial crisis in some of the European leagues shows us that it may not be as rosy as FIFA leads companies to believe, putting too much money on hot air. Read the book - The Global Politics of Sport: The Role of Global Institutions in Sport by Lincoln Allison for more interesting perspectives.

4) Infrastructure development and other capital-intensive works - While the discerning football fan maybe excited for finding top notch facilities and infrastructure, why do Governments in Africa need to have such tournaments to start making this happen? Why can't we just develop the infrastructure for our own citizenry and sake instead of trying to 'cover our nakedness' and 'sweeping the dirt ' for our visitors who are only here for some few days or months? It shocks and makes me sick how African states treat foreign dignitories especially from the West - it's as if all they will see is the fanciness of our buildings and all that.
More concerns need to be raised if recent countries hosting major tournaments are to considered. Greece currently tottering on huge public debt can trace back some of the problems to 2004 Olympic Games which though beautiful and historic ended up leaving the public paying through their noses for under-utilised facilities.
Image Courtesy of Adidas
5)Sports - are we enjoying the sport for what it is? When players and managers alike start giving excuses such as they are with the vuvuzela and ball - Jabulani dynamics, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. If they don't like it, then we can leave the stadiums empty and have them carry their own balls and see if they can play at all. If anything, the reason fans flock the stadium is to see goals scored, the more the better.
On the other hand, we have seen Africa's place not get enough support with more window dressing in our opinion. With the contintent having more than 45 active federations, 6 places from the continent are not sufficient and representative enough for such a passionate lot. Suffice it to say, that if there were at least 8 -10 teams, we could have a fair chance of winning the tournament and a truly global event if FIFA's word is to be believed.

6) Overdrive and over-exposure - this covers two aspects; the players and FIFA's calendar of events. The growing list of injuries shows that quite a number of them are suffering from overdrive and exposure from playing too many games within one season. This leads us to the next point where FIFA has quite a number of tournaments and events within a year. Isn't this a bit of over-exposure which might lead to saturation or destruction at some point?Africa has its share of stars who will be missing from the roster thanks to this
Image courtesy of AP
7) Future of Sports in the continent - if the South African World Cup achieves the intended success ( don't know how it shall be quantified...), the continent may have a chance of hosting future major events. Consideration ought to be given to dual hosts to ease the burden on one state and give a wider spread of the game. But if the tournament does not live to the standards or the hype that some have put it in, Africa shall be for a long time be banished as '3rd-world' that much of the rest of the world likes branding us. Can we prove them wrong?  Relive past World Cups in brief and see if we shall hack it..You can also read some interesting books here on football and all the politics around it as well here

Watch the games & may your favourite team win and see you in 30 days...

Kenyan 2010/11 Budget Estimates : Sports Gets a big miss

Maybe we've not read the fine print, but not much was mentioned with regards to sports development in the Kenyan Budget estimates for the financial year 2010/11. What sounds ironic is the fact that for the first time, a sitting President missed the Budget reading to attend to what....sports extravanganza !

2008 had the then Finance Minister allocate a measly Kshs. 1m per constituency towards sponsoring football tournaments which didn't go as expected thanks in part to the murky Kenyan football management scene. If the technocrats in the Ministry could look deeper into their reports and especially with remittances from winnings abroad, they would see that our sportsmen are some of the biggest contributors to the national kitty.
Another observation is that Kenyan corporate firms are taking a bigger role in developing sport in the country. The Government can do the same by matching the amounts in major sports development programmes. The Sports Stadia is one such body which hasn't put in a good show in the last 2 years.
Incentives can be offered to development of infrastructure like we have seen with the golfing parks being built at Rea Vipingo and the expected Thika Greens. That way, the begging cup that federations have been used to can be channelled towards enhancing competitiveness in their respective leagues.
Youth development programmes are some popular tunes we have sung for the longest time but in actual sense, it remains that, lip service. There are other suggestions that we have outlined many a times on this platform.
Barbs in plenty to the Ministry of Finance for such an oversight in the midst of such a glaring opporturnity for sport !!!

In Other News:
When one Ministry dithered and ignored the sporting world, another was busy rewarding our own as Goodwill ambassador. The Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sport yesterday appointed McDonald Mariga as Kenya's Goodwill Ambassador in Italy. In discussion is the possibility of attracting more visitors from Italy ( currently ranked 3rd with lowly 67,000 visitors after US & UK ; patronising Kenya's coastal town of Malindi) ; developing youth academies in Kenya in liaison with Italian clubs to spot and nurtute talent. Do these guys sit in the same Cabinet ???

Safaricom Safari Sevens - Final Take Out !

Though coming in late, we preview what our take on this budding rugby tournament that has slowly come of age. There was plenty to bite on over the 3 days that the sporting extravaganza was held at the RFUEA Grounds on Ngong Road. Allow us to fill you in;
a) Growth :- Starting from the 1990s, the event has seen its growth to become a major mark on the sporting calendar of the Kenyan scene. That the grounds could command numbers in excess of 10,000 for the last 2 days, is no mean feat. There are also the different invitations extended to the secondary and lower levels which is encouraging as these aspire to be the Injeras and Ademas of this world.
On stunted growth, it is fair to say that the competition has yet to attract competitive sides such as New Zealands All Blacks, Samoans or even the Springboks of South Africa on a regular basis. This is an area that the Kenya Rugby Union needs to work on to make it possible to competitively bid for a place in the IRB circuit series in case they extend the current 8 to a potential 10 or more tournaments - of course if they need more exposure for the game by 2016.

b) Infrastructure - the grounds were resplendent with lots of corporate colours from this or that company. This is a big boon and an even interesting prospect is the fact that there are some energy and resource saving solutions that are being explored by the corporate firms which see it not just as an investment but a way to utilise innovation - a case in point Lister Petter.
There is also the added value that new sponsors have brought on board investing in fan stands and other necessary structures to ensure the teams have a peaceful game on the pitch. Companies in Kenya must learn that sports MUST be part of their investment plans and NOT some CRS- corporate social responsibility programme - loathe that term !
The one worry though is that of the grounds were intended to host a bigger and more competitive, investing in bigger sitting space, better parking grounds, floodlights in case of playing on the early evening or night and such features. The security though improved can be better, as we saw on the last day when a streaker ran the full length of the pitch half-naked.

c) Media liaison and centre - It's been awhile to see such well co-ordinated communication for the media and the centre for reporting and interview booths. Though the usual case of some prima donnas ( thanks to working for certain media organisations, some individuals definitely think they are bigger than life - the basics is to get the unattending fan to catch up on the game and get the job done - period. All else is just secondary....) who almost gave a bad name to the place, with the demands for this or that favour. There was also the case of constant reprieves from organisers for over-zealous cameramen - our own included. The idea of a ring around the main pitch separating the crowd from the media people is not a bad idea.
 Relating to live coverage and social media, there were constant updates from the SuperSport team as well as our own K24 which broadcast the game live. This is a plus for the game for future screening and if we do bid for the IRB circuit.  W e had the social media buzzing with updates from both Twitter accounts, Facebook updates and uploads as well as the blogging world ( including yours truly...)

d) Invitational teams - while we cheer our boys for winning the game, in retrospect we should be rooting for the developmental side or team B to have achieved better. If our national team is to have a feeder programme, the second-string team needs to be up to the standards. Its not a lost cause for the team ( Shujaa as it were) due to the fact that the team had not even trained together comprehensively for them to play in this tournament. As earlier said, we also need to get more competitive sides from the IRB circuit to come play before our fans - that way we get better value the money, both for the corporate firms and enthusiasm to continue coming for more.

e) Entertainment - while we enjoyed the lady dancers and acrobats on the pitch, could we have a wider variety - maybe some comedians like we had some time back with the Redykulass guys? Still on the same, while it may cost a little more, we could love to see some international act like we did sometime in 1997-8 with former Fugee Lauryn Hill making her presence felt on this East African city.

Overall it was a well-run tournament and big kudos for the team for giving us a vantage point to absorb the happenings. Good tidings for next year's and future Safari Sevens.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Safaricom Sevens : Day 2 action ends on a high...

For you the Kenyan rugby fan ( OK that's a really lame one), we've had another great outing with both Kenyan teams playing their hearts out. The only cause of alarm was the injury to Biko Adema knocking his knee and that's missing the rest of the action and the Shujaa team losing to Grenoble. Seeing as it is the crowd didn't care less and with the final game pitting Kenya and Les Blues - the French side, it was a nice way to end the day.
The fans have been electric with the 'Green Bay' - the new Safaricom-built fan stands providing a superb backdrop for the cheering lot. Tis hoping the weather respects the 3rd and final day of action, keep it here for the updates...meanwhile enjoy the clips of the famous Kenyan crowd courtesy of Safaricom 7s

Safaricom Sevens : Day 2 action on Pics

Here's some more action from the RFUEA Grounds. The place is getting warm, action's hotter (ladies even hotter....), better come down here, both Kenyan teams playing their hearts out as the crowd gets worked into a frenzy...some pic rolls to go by

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Safaricom Safari 7s: Day Two: Kenya wallops Samurai 46-0

The mood electric, weather just right....drinks flowing, and it can't get better, Kenya's main team starts with a BANG! You are missing the action, you don't know what you are missing...keep it here as we give you the updates from the pitch and the ongoings on the stands...

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Safaricom Safari Sevens - Keeenyaaa !

After a somewhat disappointing season in the IRB Sevens circuit , the Kenyan fans welcome the boys home and hope to crown the season by winning this novel tournament. The tournament celebrating its 14th consecutive year shall also be marking a new milestone by having the new sponsors mobile phone company, Safaricom Limited, hence a rather interesting name Safaricom Safari Sevens.
The event has been a major sporting extravaganza over the 3-day period that its held and is amust for any rugby fan (though some purists may differ with us) and city sports fan looking for a weekend of fun and socialising beyond the normal clubbing scene that's all too common in Nairobi.
Due to the exposure the team has gotten from the IRB 7s, the rugby crowds have continually become big with the recently held Bamburi Super Series and Kenya Cup bearing witness to this. The performance of the 15-a-side team though has a long way to go to match their 7s counterparts but there is room for improvement.
The same must be said of the 7s team which witnessed some lacklustre performances in Twickenham , Scotland and London, England as the IRB circuit came to a close. Kenya Rugby Union officials and the technical bench surely have some work to do before the start of the 2010/11 season in December where we hope to retain the no.6 ranking achieved in the 2008/9 season if not better.
We cannot forget that the game has borne some of the best rugby players locally including, Sammy Khakame, Benjamin Ayimba, Oscar Osir, and the current crop ably led by the Injera brothers ( I hear the youngest in their family's also making a knock on to the senior side)
We can join our boys as they make their homecoming trip and look forward to a worthy weekend. The team shall use the tournament to weed out any poor performances and also prepare for the Commonwealth Games to be held later this year in New Delhi, India. We also hope the Kenya Rugby Union can make a bid for inclusion in the IRB circuit { if and when they make an addition(s) to the current 8 tournaments }.
Surely if we are to make a mark in the inaugural sevens inclusion in the Olympics in 2016, we need to start working on it NOW ! We shall be reporting live from the venue and big kudos to Safaricom for sponsoring the tournament and making an impact in the sport. We also thank the organisers for availing us the platform to cover the event and its peripheral activities.  Come let's cheer our boys, KEEENYAAA....

World Cup 2010 : The lure is too good...

The lure of the World Cup has drawn even some of the most unlikely of characters with the most educated President in the world one Bob Gabriel Mugabe reportedly forking out US $ 1.8 million (KShs. 144 million) to host the Brazilian team in Harare for their friendly yesterday. The rare occasion even made the Pres, give half-day off to civil servants for them to make it for the game. 60,000 strong fans showed up and the excitement must have seen him score one with his own citizens already disillusioned by his failure to step down after more than his fair share of troubles and mismanaging the country.

The National Stadium in Dar-es-Salaam - Venue of the 7th June Brazil v/s Tanzania friendly

Next week Tanzania's Football Federation TFF hosts the Samba Boys in Dar-es-Salaam with the lowest ticket going for US$ 25 (KShs for the game to be played at the coastal city's National Stadium. The cost of hosting the team has been estimated at US$ 2.5 million to lure Brazil into the country. The Federation which has had the country's mobile phone operator, Vodacom sponsor the league is said to be planning ahead and targeting to qualify for the 2014 World Cup which shall be hosted by no other than Brazil.
It is a real coup that Tanzania has managed to upstage its East African counter-parts who will need to work harder to try and encourage its players and football fans. It maybe hefty but if they do manage a goal or two (of course we don't expect Brazil to lose this one), the game's heroes shall be clearly motivated to playing in the qualifiers to see them in Rio de Janeiro in 4 years.
Are there any other African countries willing to take such a risk or is the lure not good enough for most States?