Monday, 22 August 2011

World Athletics in Daegu - Kenya's Chances

The 13th and so far largest World Athletics Championships starts in Daegu( the country's 'greenest city')- South Korea in 5 days. Kenya as one of the athletics powerhouse is expected its largest contingent. But as we'd know size does not always matter as other countries have been easily eroding the chances our athletes have of reaping more medals.Image courtesy of

Ethiopia is by far the largest threat in the middle and longer distance races especially with the return of our nemesis, Kenenisa Bekele. We also have the Ugandan-born middle distance runners who gave Kenyans a scare during the Commonwealth Games.
We shall look at the chances that our athletes have as follows;
800m ( Prediction:Gold & Silver)
Unless they pick injuries , David Rudisha and Alfred Kirwa are the athletes to beat in this 2-lap race. Having broken the world record last season twice in less than week and enjoying an unbeaten season so far in the Grand Prix, Rudisha has been setting the pace for this in the last 1 year. After Usain Bolt, he's athletics other easily recognisable and biggest name in the last 2 years. Kirwa might also sneak in for a silver.

1500m ( Gold & Bronze)
The race will most likely be between Silas Kiplagat and Asbel Kiprop. The latter has often gone against grain much to the coaches chagrin and thus lost races he would have easily won. But world supremacy is beckoning and what better stage than this to prove it. Kiprop for gold & Kiplagat for bronze.

3000m Steeplechase ( Gold, Silver & Bronze) Kenya's preserve in major sporting functions, it will not about who will win but rather how they shall be placed. Sample this, two Olympic gold medallists and African winners as well as fastest time this season in the race? The bet is on Brimin Kipruto take the tape. Will Mateelong stop playing second fiddle to Kemboi & Kipruto? Let's see...

5000m ( Silver)
This is where the Ethiopians have taken on us with a vengeance. With Kenenisa Bekele, it is noteworthy that he's not coming back to get warmed up but to show he still has some gas left in those nifty heels. This is his easily his gold with his worthy opponent Eliud Kipchoge finally bowing out of World Championships with a silver. He will have to beat former champ & Kenyan born US athlete Bernard Lagat & Somali-origin GB's athlete Mo Farah.

10000m ( Bronze)
This is another race that has eluded the Kenyans in the last 3 World C'ships and this time it is not any different. The Ethiopians shall either prop Kenenisa Bekele to his 2nd gold or Silesh Sihine will get his first gold ( remember he was second to Bekele in the 2007 c'ships...). Tadesse from Eritrea is also expected to chase the pack but on this one, he gets the silver.

Marathon ( Silver)
Having lost Kenya's (and may arguably the best marathoner) in the form of Samuel Wanjiru earlier this year, the Kenyan brothers will need to dig deep to challenge for this. Abel Kirui who is the reigning champ might not have the same spikes like he did last time. Ethiopia's G. Gebremariam is our main prospect for the gold. This is usually the last race of the championships .

4 x 400m( Bronze)
Hoping the team is not disqualified like they have been in major athletics events, this team will pull an upset and place 2nd or 3rd in this speciality. Riding on a succesful wave in the continental championships and Commonwealth Games last year and anchored by Mark Mutai, its about time our men emulated the 1972 Munich Games brothers ( which included David Rudisha's dad Daniel Rudisha).

800m ( Gold )
Janeth Jepkosgei will be looking over her shoulder to beat Caster Semenya. With the absence of Pamela Jelimo was the phenomenon in 2008 again misses the World Championships due to injury. The battle is between Janeth & Caster both former winners of this race.

1500m ( Bronze)
This is a very modest prediction and yes we do love our sisters but Ethiopian-born Bahraini Maryam Yusuf Jamal looks to make it 3-out-of-3. Nancy Lagat might be on that podium but not for the gold.
3000m steeplechase (Gold & Bronze)
We thought the ladies run a shorter race in the Olympics and Commonwealth but there is the likelihood the ladies would love to emulate their brothers and come home with the prize. Milcah Chemos is looking all ready to conquer the world, let's see who joins her on the podium.

5000m ( Silver)
Vivian Cheruiyot the reigning champ and having the world's leading time will be trying to prove a point and give a run of the Ethiopian's money. Meseret Defar and Genzebe Dibaba shall be chasing her down the tracks and one of them shall reign supreme.

10000m ( Bronze)
The Ethiopian threat shall be back again and Linet Masai shall be trying to get back her own but again we shall not be up to the pace of these ladies. Melkamu is itching for revenge and we shall see her in her best colours.

Marathon ( Bronze)
Another disappointing outing it will be and maybe just maybe we shall come back with a bronze. Wondering aloud where Catherine Ndereba is, we shall nominate Edna Kiplagat or Irene Kosgei.

In earnest we hope these predictions turn out NOT TO BE TRUE but then again it is just WISHES.
The added incentive for the athletes from the TDK and Toyota who are the main sponsors (among others) of these championships is that the winners and those placed 2nd to 8th shall be rewarded. The scheme is as follows;


a) Gold - US$ 60,000
b) Silver- US$ 30,000
c) Bronze - US$ 20,000
World Record breakers entitled to US$ 100,000
{4th-15,000; 5th-10,000; 6th-6000; 7th-5000; 8th-4,000}

Relays (Teams):
a) Gold - US$ 80,000
b) Silver - US$40,000
c) Bronze - US$ 20,000
{4th-16,000; 5th-12,000; 6th-8,000; 7th-6,000; 8th-4,000}
Marathon (Teams):
a) Gold - US$ 20,000
b) Silver - US$16,000
c) Bronze - US$ 12,000
{4th-10,000; 5th-8,000; 6th-6,000}

You can see more detailed previews of the Daegu Championships here and also follow the races live here . Or follow their Twitter handle @daegu2011org .

Saturday, 20 August 2011

2011 Women's Africa Nations Championship - Nairobi welcomes Continental Challenge

Kenya's place as the continent's one of biggest success in volleyball is without a doubt. That endorsement is seen in the current club and nation's ranking among the best in the women's game of volleyball.
It is thus Kenya's team to lose as they host the Africa's Nations Championship for the next few days ending on the 23rd of August. Due to the repairs taking place at the Kasarani sports stadia and also the need to have these games played in an indoor facility, Kenya Volleyball Association sought the private institutions at African Nazarene University and Brookhouse School to host the games divided into 2 pools.Image courtesy of

The games were necessitated by the need to get Africa's representatives in the FIVB World Cup in November 2011 ( Kenya has represented Africa 5 other times with 2010 being the most recent, albeit to some poor showing). Some of the teams will also use the championships to prepare for the All- Africa Games which start in September in Maputo.
The pools are divided into;
Pool A:
Cameroon,Egypt,Kenya and Nigeria
Pool B:
Algeria,Botswana,Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia

Saturday represented Day 3 of the games. Front-runners for the finals are already positioning themselves with Kenya hoping to retain its pole position. Stiff opposition comes in the form of Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria and Tunisia.
We wish the ladies team all the best as David Lung'aho's charges look to retain their title as Africa's Queens. Led by captain Brackcides Agala and seeing seasoned hands such as Janet Wanja making a comeback, it is without doubt Kenya's championship to lose.

For more regular updates check these links, www.sportsnewsarena OR

Mariga secures loan move to La Liga

After spending another season on the bench and making brief appearances as a substitute, McDonald Mariga’s prised a move to one of the world’s more prestigious and open leagues in Spain’s Primera Division ( or La Liga ). It has been a rather frustrating season soon after playing the UEFA Champions League semi-final as a late substitute for Inter Milan and winning 4 cups ( UEFA Champs League, Scudetto , Coppa Italia and FIFA World Club Cup). Mourinho’s move and subsequent arrival of Rafael Benitez saw Mariga’s active play diminish making only 21 appearances for the club.

With the loan move to Real Sociedad, it will be interesting if Philippe Montanier will be willing to grant him more playing time and make his a worthy trip across to a more temperate country. Playing in the League with some of the current world’s biggest names in Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and even managing to play in the same team with another loanee Carlos Vela from Arsenal would be any player’s dream.

Tis our prayer that with more playing time, he shall not disappoint...

Did You Know?

  • Real Sociedad was one of the few to beat Barcelona last season 2-1 in April 2011.
  • Famous names (both former and current) from this team include, Spain’s Xabi Alonso and Mexico’s Carlos Vela

Monday, 15 August 2011

Sports & Social Media:- Whys & Wherefores Part I

This week we start publishing some articles from one of the moderators and contributors to this blog. It has been a long time coming and a bit of arm-twisting here and there. Richard is currently one of the writers for Marketing Africa magazine where he contributes for the sports marketing column. Here's an article on Sports, Social Media and Digital Platforms;

Champions League
The UEFA Champions League 2011 and the whole world is glued to their screens; flat, HD, projector or otherwise. Its kick-off and the hallowed pitch that is Wembley Stadium is buzzing as is the streams of news coming through major channels be they sports or cable news ones.
Even ‘louder’ is the buzz created in the social media circles of Twitter, Facebook and among others. The first goal is scored by Pedro, the whole game now went into overdrive and the social networks were red-hot.
(Image courtesy of

For anyone not watching the game live, a second-by-second update was running on Twitter and this came through in positive comments about the favoured team, barbs and jibes thrown at the losing team and faltering players along with histories around players and teams.
Gone are the days that we had to wait for the television and radio updates to know the highlights and scores of a game.

Shaq Attack
A few days later, one of sports easily recognisable figures, Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal nicknamed ‘Shaq’, ‘The Big Daddy’, ‘Diesel’, to use but a few of the many names announced his retirement via YouTube and instantly the news was trending in Twitter and other social media platforms. Perfect way to leave the basketball world!
(Image from

Yes, sport has slowly and is now synonymous with social media. We have seen many spoofs or what you might call product endorsements done using short clip videos posted on YouTube and Facebook and these links tweeted and retweeted by brand followers, ambassadors and admirers.
Even at a local level, sports disciplines such as football and rugby have started appreciating the use of this platform. Talk of the Kenya Premier League and the various club fans and sports media enthusiasts will tell you which club is playing where and the fans in attendance, their cheer songs and other enticing offers.
These technological developments are slowly helping us maintain and establish new connections and reconnect with those we know or knew from previous engagements. The connections too are not restricted to individuals but include companies, brands, and for the sake of our discussion, clubs, players and relating sources.

Converse not Command
Social media tools are becoming integral tools of communication and this is favoured channel for most if not all sports participants. The demographics show us the numbers of those using the platforms are the ages between 18-30 years. The platforms had initially swung in favour of the PC but are slowly tilting towards the mobile telephony thanks again to this age group.
The main bane though as is usually the case for new technology, how successful it is in implementation will be from understanding it. Be it an individual or team start by developing a proper strategy that forms part of a larger marketing strategy.
Remember social media is about creating conversation, not one-way or one-sided communication from the brand, individual or team. It should not be a simple posting of updates and news but a long-term and continuous process that could enable you to get feedback from your fans and the wider sporting and non-sporting audience.

One Millionth Man
NBA – the US professional basketball league teams have been able to utilise these social media platforms to make for very interesting interactions with their fan base. For example, one of its biggest players (quite literally too and the new gentle ‘Superman’) Dwight Howard playing for the franchise Orlando Magic has perfected this.
(Image courtesy of
From communicating about his daily engagements, he also pushes for the brands he endorses and acknowledged his 1 millionth follower with an all-expenses paid trip to Orlando for a game and hang-time with the rest of the team stars. (As of the time of going to Press, he had over 2 million followers on this @DwightHoward, one million more than his team @Orlando_Magic)
One must remember that sporting events, sports personalities and teams as well as news around sports has made the growth of social media platforms explode in the last 3-5 years. Major events from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa all made use of social media and were able to keep vibrant conversation going about the events.
Sample this, the nuisance and widely controversial vuvuzela had an iPhone App which became the number 1 app on iTunes in 50 countries in June 2010. Nike with its ‘Write the Future’ World Cup advert had over 19 million views on YouTube.
As sports enthusiasts hunger for fodder for more and more about their favoured teams or individuals there is definitely a need and demand created and these teams and individuals have to oblige albeit trying to maintain as much professionalism and true personality as they would in real life.

{Part II coming soon...}

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Kenya Basketball dribbles Friday Games as Celebrities light up Basketball Night

Last weekend at the Nyayo National Stadium – Basketball Gym, Nairobians were treated to another of the Friday Basketball Games that Kenya Basketball Federation has been holding since the 2011 season started. Working with the Code Red DJ – under its CodeRed Basketball tag and majorly assisted by one Peter Kiganya, the games had the added flavour of a curtain-raiser game of what was billed as the Celebrities v/s Referees game; who included Jalang’o, Big Ted, DJ Stylez, Shaffie Weru,Nonini, Daddy Owen among others up against an old but hard-fighting REFEREES team that included Juma Kent, David Maina, Kennedy Banda, Erick Omondi, Coach Goro and some experienced coaches in the Premier League.

This particular game against the referees turned out to being the ‘main thrill’ of the night, even though there was the real All-Star game which had KBF’s Premier League’s best players pitted against each other in a East-West version of the more established NBA league in the US. Before all this had other curtain-raiser activities which included the shooting, dances and other forms of entertainment to keep the crowd on its feet on a chilly Friday evening.

Strictly speaking though, if the numbers from the event are anything to go by, KBF is finally finding its feet on a situation that had seen die-hard basketball fans seek alternative forms of entertainment. Filling in a gymnasium on a typical weekend has been a real struggle for the basketball officials. This season, though after consulting with entertainment specialists Code Red DJs who’s business face is one Allan Muigai (aka DJ Stylez), along with Protel Entertainment as well as Sports Stadia which manages the Nyayo National Stadium; the Friday fixtures have started changing the face of the game.

Initially the games had major clubs such as Co-op Bank, KCB Lions, Ulinzi Warriors among the top basketball sides playing amongst themselves. Then in June the And1 detour into Nairobi-Kenya (thanks to Coca-Cola Kenya and GM Kenya), the spark that needed to light the game again happened and this has worked to the organisers’ advantage. Jumping into the bandwagon, media new-kid-on-the-block, One FM also saw an opportunity to appeal to its target market.

Friday’s second game played in two halves ended in favor of the Referees who won 30-28 leading a close 17-16 and 13-12 in both. The game did not end without drama as expected. Big Tedd went around celebrating a basket that he had buried for close to a minute sending the crowd into an uproar while ‘Misee Jalang’o Mwenyewe’ kept the crowd on its toes constantly chasing after the ball from the opponents and making calls for passes like his team mates were not seeing him in the court. Their opponents had their share of brilliance mostly from David ‘Maish’ Maina who was outstanding during the entire game. Maina, a former player at KPA, and currently the head coach of the USIU Tigers tore his opponents with passes and shots that settled the game which had threatened to extend to overtime. Jalang’o and Big Tedd contributed two points each to their loss while Victor Okello bagged 8 points for the Referees.

Earlier the Ladies East Side that was packed with stars like Shani Silalei and Irene Makori thrashed the West Side 68 -80. They won all but the first quarter at 13-13, 21-20, 19-6 and 14-8. Irene Makori netted 9 points for the winners. The final game that pitted the men lacked the sparks the fans expected to see from it. The West side boasting of Tiberius Menya and Dan Okwiri narrowly beat the East Side led by David Ogolla and Ligare Griffins 88-87 to carry home the winners’ trophy while the MVP award went to Arou Ramadhan Chan of the West side.

For a Nairobi crowd which will almost always fall for the latest hype, the Friday Basketball games are slowly becoming alternative form of entertainment. It is a step in the right direction though not all is done. Just not yet...

Our views from the Friday games have our points as follows;

  • Crowd involvement – a quick look at the crowd shows most of them are newly converted basketball fans. This is the reason most left after the curtain-raiser game of CELEBRITIES v/s REFEREES. It is also the reason most of those left couldn’t identify with the real basketball players once they came out to play. Introduce the players, hype and domesticate the crowd to know their true basketball heroes. Remember how the crowd could identify with And1 stars?
  • Time – this has to be managed better if you are to keep the fans at the gym till whatever time you may need for them to leave. Spread the entertainment bits; keep reminding fans what is coming up and the main highlight of the evening. The main game of the night starting at 2300hours??? Most people at the Nyayo gym were groping in the dark of what’s next. The celebrities even left after their game (guess they still had to run to other engagements to earn their $$$ maybe...). Same thing to the KBF officials, sad!
  • Decor/Ambience – though much of this lies with the Sports Stadia Management Board, the Nyayo Basketball gym is in need of a fresh coat of paint and warmer, striking colours. It may also need some refurbishment for its cushioned walls, rims and the lighting. The ambience of a sporting event makes a whole difference if you’re hoping to wow a crowd of such proportions. It will also add more appeal to media houses that need more colour to their sports editorial stories.
  • Media – some of the media houses either avoided the whole event for reasons best known to them or they feigned commitment as has been the story with most Kenyan media houses with regards to sports. Until SuperSport or some other international media house starts featuring the games, they’re still relegated to some weekly magazine programme which edits it so much it ends up being a speck of no use. Media houses in Kenya have a peculiar sports editorial policy so you might need to work harder to entice them there.
  • Premier League pitch - as is happening with the Kenyan football scene, you need to get the clubs to have their own distinct identity. Either consult branding experts or the respective team managers to get teams to have a followership of their own. Except for the die-hard fans, most of the fans in that gym can’t distinguish which team or who Ulinzi Warriors, Tobias Onyango or Ancette Wafula or Lomboritz are.
  • Consistency – the performance, games and style of play from the main teams needs to be at a better level. You cannot build such hype about the game, show off the skills on individual skits about dribbling, dunking or shooting then give me a below-par game. It will serve no purpose at all in the efforts of getting back that ardent basketball or sports fan.
  • Corporate sponsorship- it is hard pitching to Kenyan corporate for sports events. Keep hope alive and you could see a change in attitude. A change in attitude too is needed at the top of KBF for officials to see the commercial sense of the game. We’ve sung this tune for too long. Even with its challenges football is now millions of shillings ahead of you...Anyway you can link the Friday games with the ongoing Spriteball talent search by next month?

Address these challenges are you’re on to a good thing. Mark your calendars people, every First Friday of the Month, make a date with Kenya’s basketball fraternity at the Nyayo National Stadium Basketball Gymnasium!

Check some earlier posts on the Friday Basketball Games by KenyaHoops, MichezoAfrika and KenyaBuzz .

Additional Reporting by Noel Robert