Friday, 21 January 2011

Run with Kenyans

Friday found one of our contributors dutifully make it for a breakfast briefing by Brand Kenya. The morning's call was to launch activities geared towards marking the country's 50th (golden) anniversary ( yup Kenya's 50 on 2013!).
As has lately been realised by Government operatives and bodies tasked with promoting Kenya as nation brand, the use of sports is gaining credence and a focal point. As the Brand Kenya officials noted, it is important to leverage the country especially as it looks to mark some important milestones with an election next year as it moves to the next 50 years.
Sport has been known to unify the most warring of states and Kenya is no exception. As such some Kenyan entrepreneur who works in the US, one Wilson Kiriungi ,Marco Peterson(former IT entrepreneur) and Benjamin Rapoport (a medical practitioner) have come up with a organisation, Run With Kenyans. The motivation behind this organisation is to ride on the wave of Kenyan marathoners/athletes who have been winners of various top marathons across the world.
Using the goodwill built by the athletes, the organisation will target US recreational marathoners (the US has approximately 48 million of these, 15 million who run at least 10 times annually in the half & full marathons across the States). These runners are from the upper middle class to the affluent thus making good targets fpr sports tourism. 
Starting with the Boston Marathon, reputedly the oldest marathon in the world and which coincidentally has been won by Kenyans since 1991 (including a current sitting MP for Emgwen - Elijah Langat in 2000) ; the plans are to have a Kenyan House stand at the preceding Expo of the Marathon. This expo usually has an average attendance of 80,000. Replicating this across major marathons including the Chicago, New York, London among others. 
The other benefit is to pitch to the Kenyans living in the diaspora to cheer on their compatriots and also participate in the marathon(s). 

Robert 'Mwafrika' Cheruiyot - one of the past winners - Boston Marathon
We do wish them well in their endeavours and kudos to Brand Kenya for taking this initiative. This should not be the last of such ideas and the potent of sport is huge. If they can keep luring Government operatives away from the politics to focus more on such developments, the country will be all the better for this.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

2022 World Cup Sneak Preview ? 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar

Rated as one of the most nondescript tournaments in the world of football ( no offence to our Asian brothers), the current Asian Cup might serve another interesting perspective in the games future. After Qatar's winning bid for the FIFA World Cup 2022, FIFA's Sepp Blatter made the suggestion that the tournament might be moved to the early months of 2022 rather than the traditional mid-year calendar that is FIFA's money-spinning events.
Qatari Football fans - courtesy of 

FIFA's ( or is it Blatter's) rationale of the 2022 winning bid is that the game needs to expand in Asia and attract wider audiences and finances than is currently the case. Well, the Asian Cup is proving to be a great guinea pig from the stadium and transport infrastructure to the fans attending the games and maybe the weather conditions ( that is if Blatter has his way).
It is admirable what the Qatari authorities have been doing for sport, indeed investing heavily and even making future plans for the related services such as housing of hosting a major tournament. The change though would mean that FIFA and its affiliates would have to radically change the footballing calendar for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons which of course is no easy task. There might be related costs and maybe loss of revenue. All the same, if countries (especially African countries who have a penchant of not planning in time) would need to have an idea of what it may feel like in 11 years, better catch the next flight to the Gulf emirate of Qatar!

Do Kenyan Sports Personalities have PR experts?

As the year came to a close, the sporting world was treated to some not so interesting news of Kenya's Samuel Wanjiru's alleged wife battery and consequent prosecution. As usual media houses were quick to pick on the item and some went to the extent of interviewing the wife and causing quite some embarrassment for the athlete{do a quick search of his name on Google News and see the results}.

What did I do now? 
Not that we excuse sports personalities behaviours, but do Kenyan sports personalities engage in proper PR services? Why we ask?
The aforementioned is bound to suffer some damages not just in trying to recover for the year's engagements, but also current and future endorsements. The psychological effects will almost surely see performances dwindle too.
This reminds me of one of Kenya's more famous cricket men, one Maurice Odumbe. The issues that affected this Kenyan sportman left him all the worse off and though he has tried making a comeback, we all know he might never recover to play for the national team.
Dennis 'The Menace' Oliech - that middle nickname didn't come from his comparison to some famous comic character rather more for his erratic behaviour off the pitch and more so on the local social scene. He had his brother as agent (and maybe PR too but we all know where he was headed). A little more sombre nowadays, he has made some positive changes, maybe the professional colleagues at Auxerre 'ironed him' out on that one.
The list is long of other sports personalities. How they manage the crisis and get out of it requires some inspired PR spin and obviously not for the faint hearted. There are those that manage to comeback and of course the athlete too has to help his or her cause by putting on some great performances.
In the increasingly small world that we are developing to, use of social media and such other platforms can be used to improve the image. Of course, social media has its misgivings of not being within too much control unlike traditional media channels, but if your fans understand you and believe in you genuinely beyond life's bumpy rides, it can be a powerful tool to consider.
As for Samuel Wanjiru, sharing experiences with Tiger Woods, Wayne Rooney or one American footballer Michael Vicks might help shake off some of the bad omen and get the career back on track.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Football Figures : Show Me The Money !!!

2010 achieved many milestones but one major highlight was a return of the local football fans to the football grounds. Traditional rivalries in the form of AFC v/s Gor and newfound ones such as Sofapaka v/s Thika United all made us stream back to the stadiums. Of course there were the unforgettable scenes at Nyayo Stadium when fans died as they waited to watch the AFC/Gor game in November.

With the local mainstream media houses also finally appreciating the Kenyan game, and creating a buzz where necessary, the numbers have started to show.
Local media monitoring house, ReelForge , owned in part by Mugo Githongo ( for those who don't know he's brother to John Githongo, former Kenyan anti-corruption czar). According to recent findings as released to the Press, Kenya Premier League (KPL) was able to attract media coverage worth KShs. 686 million ( USD 8.575 million) over the period of March - November 2010. These figures are what the media firm termed as equivalent to Advertising Value Equivalent, that is, what KPL editorial coverage would cost if it were advertising space.

Top Teams were as follows;
1. Gor Mahia -        KShs. 200 million
2. AFC Leopards - KShs. 155 million
3. Tusker FC -        KShs. 150 million

The corporate firms which also got a fair share of coverage thanks to their mentions were;
1. KCB                  KShs. 378 million
2. Safaricom           KShs. 166 million
3. Zain                    KShs.  89 million
What is suprising though is that of the major corporate firms mentioned, only KCB has actively sponsored top flight footbal consistently. Safaricom and Orange have been sponsoring youth football and regional tournaments respectively and haven't made headways into the mainstream game.
How good it would be if these figures were actually translated to tangibles and the clubs able to benefit from the same. It would also serve well for the clubs now to raise the stakes and get professional consultants to pursue corporate sponsorships - be it team, shirt or as maybe prescribed - they have such numbers to show for it.
Kenyan companies also need loosen up their purses and avoid knee-jerk approaches to investing in sports.
Coupled with the 4-year TV rights deal signed by SuperSport worth around KShs. 400 million, Kenyan clubs might finally start living it up. Hopefully this shall trickle down to the players and aid in managing the teams effectively. It would be a great pleasure to see our team move up to the levels of African Champion League participants, Enyimba, Al-Alhy, Zamalek and recent wonderboys TP Mazembe ! Is this the year for Kenyan football to finally come of age?