Wednesday, 15 June 2011

KCB Safari Rally 2011

Yes, the Safari Rally is racing round town again! Having been edged out of the World Rally Championship circuit, the Rally has been struggling to regain some worthy status. Kenya Motorsports Federation(KMSF) has been working tirelessly to get the Rally going and this year the route has been scaled down moving to environs not too far from Nairobi - at Athi River and Kajiado.

The fan-park which had previously been hosted at Uhuru Park has been moved to Jamhuri Park along Ngong Road.
KMSF's current Chair has stated that they seek for reinstatement on the WRC by 2013 - a tough call given we're crossing to the 9th year in the cold and the rallying world has moved leaps and bounds to more technical levels and much of the excitement that Safari Rally offered would be heavily diluted.
79 drivers have registered for this year's Rally a commendable number and we hope that the organisers are able to attract this number consistently. The current title sponsors have also been faithfully holding onto the property and hope it reaps some major coup once & if the Rally is restored to the WRC.
Follow the Rally on this handle @motorsportkenya and we shall endeavour to give you updates too. Watch out for the cars along your route people in and around Nairobi and give way. See you in Kajiado or Athi River Saturday and Sunday!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

‘Richest’ Football Clubs– Top 5 in Kenya Premier League (UPDATED)

Midway through the season we take another look at the Kenyan football clubs and what we could say is their modest worth. This is because most of the clubs have held their books so tightly and secretively and there is such fluidity in the financial situation that the only way we have sourced this information is through media reports and respective club websites (albeit where they provide minimal details) {NB: TV revenues and advertising revenues from SuperSport NOT accounted for, along with bonuses}

1. AFC LEOPARDS – this is unexpected but this is helped in large by the club’s recent media deal with Smart TV which will ensure the club has dedicated media coverage from games to behind the scenes, to archived material through Ingwe TV. This makes it the first club in Kenya to have a dedicated channel comparable to European clubsLink. It has also launched a magazine hoping to attract advertising revenue and engage readers. There is the KShs.15 million deal with Mumias Sugar signed in February as well as the AAR health insurance deal worth KShs.1.5 million. { There is the 60 million 3-year TV deal match-day ticketing and merchandising worth about KShs.2 million}

Estimated Worth: KShs.98.5 million

2. GOR MAHIA FC – this is Kenya’s most successful and talked about club. It is also has quite some history though much of the aura around it is both mythical and too hyped. Landing a huge sponsorship worth KShs. 38 million just before the start of the season, the club also has the fastest selling jerseys as well as healthy match-day attendance. On average there are between 5000-10,000 fans attending each game whichever day of the week. {From 2-year sponsorship deal; average attendance of 7500 each paying KShs.100 for 30 games; along with merchandising}

Estimated Worth: KShs. 60 million

3. MATHARE UNITEDthis club has been a darling of many corporate firms and had topped our earlier List. This is in sponsorship deals worth about KShs.30 million that the club has attracted from corporate such as Kenya Data Networks (KDN), Real Insurance among others. It also has benefactors through its chairperson Bob Munro who influences not just the club but KPL as well.

Estimated Worth: KShs. 52.5 million

4. SOFAPAKA FCthe season had started with much promise and the club looked headed for continental glory and the bounty that comes along with it but this ended last weekend. Having secured sponsorship from Portland Cement, the club has firmly rooted itself atop of the league and also has some following of sorts from its many fans.

Estimated Worth: KShs. 36.75 million

5. THIKA UNITEDit is the largest club coming from Central Kenya and has the support of milk processing firm Brookside Milk worth around KShs. 15 million. Couple this with the merchandising and other minor sponsorship deals, the club is surely among the top earners in the country.

Estimated Worth: KShs. 30.5 million

We shall be reviewing this at the end of the season and see what changes shall be made. By then too the relevant financial bodies and sports marketing and business agencies will have been consulted and more conclusive figures released. The future of the Kenyan football game surely has some positive developments amidst the difficulties in administration.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Sofapaka - So Close Yet So Far

Batoto ba Mungu loosely translated to children of God has been a nice catchphrase for the Kenyan football club as they have seemingly conquered African clubs in the CAF Confederations Cup.
Sofapaka FC - courtesy of
But just like life, luck runs out even to the luckiest of them. And yesterday, the only surviving Kenyan club team in the continental challenge valiantly fought a battle but lost the war, 4-3 on aggregate. Thus far we salute their efforts.
But going back to the heart of the matter, when shall Kenyan clubs start sharing in the spoils of the continental largesse? The last time Kenyan clubs came close to continental glory was in the 1990s when then Kenya Breweries (now Tusker FC) played in the Finals of the Cup Winners Cup (Mandela Cup) against DC Motema Pembe in 1994 - previously only Gor Mahia had won the Cup in 1987.
Once Kenyan football elections date is confirmed and the winners announced, one of the issues at hand for them to address is the continued absence and how we can end this soon. Our hope is that the very faces and hands that have been 'managing' the current rot shall not be anywhere near this new phase in the game. But if FIFA elections are anything to go by, we might be stuck with some of these characters longer than we need. Mr. Minister please stop mincing your words and make good your threats.
As for now, we need to quickly forget this year's near-success and strive to move our clubs in continental challenge(s) to more respectable positions. Mr. Kalekwa share your experience with the rest of KPL teams and 2011-12 should be a more successful year. Back to the drawing boards, football people!

And1 Kenya Tour - Did it Live Up to the Hype?

Saturday 11th June and some of us sporting buffs in the country had one too many sporting events to attend but one that stood out for us was the and1 SpriteBall Kenya Tour which was ostensibly sponsored by Coca-Cola's Sprite brand. Read on for a quick recount of events happening on the day;
a) Ticketing and Gate Management - an online process through was activated a few days to the event to enable advance booking to the event. It was a smart move but that's where it ends. On arrival at the venue, no communication was made on how one was to confirm having made this advance booking. Being tossed around and having a bit of a miff with security personnel who were equally irritating made for poor gate management. No clear cut distinction too was made on the VIP booking (costing KShs.500) or regular ones (at KShs.200).

b) Security - Given that Kenya Basketball Federation Premier League games were still on, though scheduled for early starts; the organisers had to wait till 4.30p.m. to secure the venue ( managed by Sports Stadia Management Board AND NOT KBF as most people think...). There was a bomb sweep ( yeah we had Americans in the building) and this caused more inconveniences to sporting fans who had streamed in as early as 12 noon. Luckily the crowd was well-mannered and no scenes of commotion was seen thus far. There were 2 courts, the handball court (outdoor) which had screens and a basketball hoop which later served as the scene for the BlakeGriffin - Dunk-over-a-Car (The Chevrolet was donated by GM).
Here's the Dunk thanks to *mastabonk;

The other court was the Nyayo Gym proper (indoor) where the exhibition game between and1 players and Kenya-Select and much of the action was to take place.
However on allowing the crowd into the courts, there were serious security lapses. First the crowd was too big for the Nyayo Gym allowing people to sit right next to the playing court a few inches off. There were people hanging around the back of each hoop and this was also of concern given the players' getting their game on and the adrenalin kicking as the game went on. No serious injuries occurred (thankfully).
This easy access of the crowd though meant security personnel had problems trying to control the fans once the action started. Over-excited fans, groupies and some wannabe-photographers were all over the court each time a player from either and1 or Kenya select made a great play. At half-time it took more than 10 min to clear the court. By the end of the game when one of the Kenya-Select point guards outplayed an and1 guard, the crowd went berserk and even by the final buzzer fans were either throwing empty plastic soda bottles or running into the court like headless chicken.

c) Venue- as earlier reported, the venue(s) for the games were the handball and basketball courts both of which are managed by the SSMB. With the clouds hanging heavily before the start of the games, most of the people in the crowd didn't take much chances and ended up in the Gym.
The lighting was good save for the fact that there were no effects thus making some boring ambience. 2 large screens had been positioned opposite each other; at the VIP side and directly opposite it. This was showing the action outside (at the handball court) and also running promotional ads for the DJ Unit and Sprite's too.
The ancient scoreboard that has been at the Gym since 1987 was our source of information as the game progressed but since KBF or SSMB have never found it urgent to bring it down and modernise the whole thing, most people were agonised trying to see the scores.( The timer on the board usually has a problem differentiating between 3 & 8 min and this had the game's MC in problems each time the clock was running out).
More cause for embarrassment was to come once the skies opened up and the rains pounded Nairobi, the roof at Nyayo Gym started leaking and the game had to be stopped as the MC saved the situation placing his treasured white towel on the court. 

d) Sponsors Overload - it was a great job for Coca-Cola through Sprite to agree to sponsor the event. In fact the original and1live Tour was not even supposed to head to East Africa but guess some strings were pulled and we got our share of the action. With every ticket purchase came 2 free half-litre sodas or 2 Dasani water 300 ml bottles, fair enough! But these bottles turned out to be anathema once the crowd got excited. Enough litter made its way onto the court causing much eyesore to the game.
There were banners too pronouncing the sponsor's cause , all good but methinks its time too that Kenyan companies started investing in digital platforms for the ads. More screens and the lighting in the court would have longer lasting impression than the now usual and ugly banners which are overdone.
We're also wondering if this association with the Kenyan basketball game will continue or shall it be a once-hot-now-cold relationship with KBF? True there is lots of ground to be covered by the authorities but you can cut them some slack for now...

e) And1 v/s Kenya Select :- once the exhibition game started, the and1 team seemed to be taking off with the game only for the Kenyan players to start settling in and making impressive plays and almost answering their critics with 3-pointers and alley-ups just like the best of them. The only problem is that much of the game now turned to more of showmanship and no better structured moves. Not that much of the crowd cared anyway, some of us love a more competitive game even if its streetball.
Without a doubt, Kenyans can make the cut for some of the best teams but we do not have the structures to nurture this talent and channel it to the more lucrative leagues in Europe and America. One of the and1 players was originally from Uganda and we also know of Hasheem Thabeet playing in the NBA, how come Kenya can't afford a player even in the college basketball teams? Over to you KBF!

Well, when all is said and done, it was a nice break from the lacklustre games that occasion the KBF Premier League. KBF should take up this chance and spice up things for fans to come back week-on-week. Some fan was heard saying that if KBF officials cannot handle the game then they should leave it to such organisers and corporate firms to make it happen. It is true that KBF has not made any commercial sense to most corporate firms, well this can be a start.
(Sports) event organisers also take note, NEVER ask a crowd to show up at a certain time only for your arrangements NOT to be up and running. Luck was on your side that this was a manageable crowd and there were no reported scenes of violence or otherwise. Other sporting disciplines will not be so patient. Also if you have to host a foreign team, all those security checks can be done well in advance and you shall save us all the hussle.

{Thanks for Twitpics to @kenyanpoet & @itsbuddhablaze, we shall be posting the images up soon}

NBA Playoffs ended early this morning or late evening depending on which time-zone you live in. Dallas Mavericks ended up scorching Miami Heat 4-2 in a best of 7 series and denying the fancied Big 3 of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh their first ever championship rings. However this accorded Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Peta Stojakovic their first rings each of these long-time playing stars.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Kenya Budgetary Estimates 2011-12 - What is in it for Sports?

Coming at a time when the Kenyan Government is easily finding it hard to raise revenues as well as make capital expenditure, we in the sports industry have put our lot in there too. From the Budget Statement - Fiscal Year 2011-12, as presented by Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, a similar token given to the development of sport in the country in 2008-9 by then Minister Amos Kimunya makes a comeback.

Quoting the statement,
"...apart from engaging in these activities, I would also like to encourage them to nurture their talents in the realm of sports. Time and time again, our young people have made this country proud by their exemplary performance in the international tournaments in various disciplines. (... all good so far)
I believe that a clear investment in sports backed by proper management, can turn this activity, which attracts thousands of our young people into a sustainable employer. Our youth should be able to follow their dreams and establish careers in sports ( ....well put Mr. Minister Sir)
To this end, I have allocated KShs. 210 million ( 1 million per constituency) towards competitive sports for youth countrywide. This will be used for purchase of trophies, monetary award to competing teams and compensation for officials overseeing this initiative. ( you sound ambiguous Sir, which sports discipline & that amount's too measly unless you hold 1 tournament per year)
The private companies under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) budgets to match this amount, at least on a shilling-for-shilling basis." (...nice one throwing the challenge to private corporate firms making obscene profits but committing measly amounts to sport BUT that word CSR word just craps me out! )

Not belabouring the points above, we believe there is more that the Ministry could have done to give incentive to the sports industry. Just like we have said before (and he's also quoted), sports can be an employer of many if the right investments and management are put into place.
  • Our infrastructure has suffered considerably and one way they can aid this is by offering tax incentives to private investors willing to build stadia, sports arenas and community centres. In fact some of the KShs.210 m should go to building of community centres, since a one-off amount is more like a quick-fix but no long term work envisioned beyond that.
  • Tax waivers should be accorded to suppliers of sports equipment too to entice clubs and communities to invest in these longer term projects.
  • Still on a longer term basis, and especially with the new dispensation having counties some options for private investment through infrastructure bonds should be pursued.
  • Allow and encourage counties and local governments to introduce various preferential measures to support the sports industry. Most of the local governments have lost control of parcels of land meant for stadia and other sports centres making it difficult to move forward.
  • Tax holiday to the winning individuals and teams across the world?
    Here's a sample of what some top officials in Nigeria are doing to entice the private companies to invest in sports.
As for now, nice effort Mr. Minister, but this is to us at SportsKenya is just a drop in the ocean! What say you good people of Kenya?

Monday, 6 June 2011

And1 Streetball in Nairobi 11th June 2011 - Where will you be?

The buzz has been coming and its great from where we stand. And1 Streetball will be landing on this side of the continent, thanks in part to the main sponsors Coca-Cola EA through their flagship brand Sprite.
This version of the game though is more exciting and skills-oriented. It is meant to literally take basketball to the streets and achieve greater appreciation of what can be an intense and energy-driven game.
And1 -image courtesy of
This maybe the shot that the Kenyan basketball game needs after tottering to the brink of obscurity. Save for the occasional play-offs spike and the regional challenge, most of the games are poorly attended and lack the spark. The college league which had also become a crowd-puller has also staggered to more of a routine and formality more than a skills-hunt for local clubs.
Kenya Basketball Federation which has endorsed this trip, we hope you shall be able to pick the shells and throw the challenge to the major corporates and supporting parties and maybe you can lure the fans back into the gymnasiums and basketball courts.
Here are the other sources reporting on the And1 Streetball Kenyan trip; AllOneBasketballSchool, and MichezoAfrika

11th June people mark your calendar !

Wonder what happened to the 3-on-3 Weekend Challenge which was a major crowd puller in Nairobi in the 1990s and early 2000s. The then entreprenuer one Patrick Musimba  (of Musimba Investments) seems to have moved to bigger things in golf and telecommunications. We do hope KBF officials can have a session with him, he had some great stuff going. Where are all you sports entrepreneurs? (OK, that's after KBF sorting out the lacklustre performance and see the sense in commercialising the game).

Rugby 7s - Time Kenya opened a new page

The IRB 7s season came to an end last weekend and Kenya finished off with some consolation seeing off Scotland in Edinburgh winning the Bowl and placing just within the top 10 of the IRB 7s playing nations rooster. A lot had been said about the team last season after faltering in a few tournaments coming close to the Main Finals but not quite making the cut. This year even the Bowl(s) were somewhat of an aspiration more than anything else.
True the boys exceeded all expectation in the 2008-9 season finishing 6th in the IRB rankings and discovering the exploits of Collins Injera(who finished top try scorer with  42 of these) and his elder brother Humphrey Kayange. Sidekicks such as Biko Adema, Lavin Asego,Gibson Weru along with the rest of the team have been doing their best representing a country which plays at best semi-professional 7s rugby.
The technical aspects; strength and speed training have all seemed to have taken a back seat or the technical bench has somehow run out of ideas. Watching the last tournament in Edinburg had screams for the many unforced errors that the team made and they better watch this over and over again as they start turning a new leaf.
Humphrey Kayange & his charges in the 7s team

Our humble suggestion is that the better team has seen the best of their playing days and its time there is some new talent infused to the playing unit. Between now and November we shall be having the local 7s circuit and the national team management better sharpen their pencils and draw up some great and budding talent. Next up the whole training regimen truly needs a spruce up. There might be need to consult more experienced sides like South Africa -which is Africa's biggest bet in the game and who might be closer home than any of the other sides.
Talking of playing unit, the Kenya Rugby Union has promised to look into the possibility of turning the team fully professional. It might be not be such an easy sell given their performance in the last 2 seasons, but if well put it could serve as selling point too. The new Board may also need to seek a change in the team management and offer chance to personnel who will bring something new and fresh into the 7s team. Total dismal might not be a great idea but if done in phases it might be a boon to the team.
The new officials at KRU might also need to do less talking now and dirty their hands in the pitch and look to expand the fishing net to wider areas across the country. The usual hunts in Western and Nyanza provinces along with the usual Nairobi area are top favourites but you never know where the next Mwanja, Sudi or Ashioya comes from if the game is expanded to other regions in the Coastal, Central and Rift regions. Time we turn a new page Mr. Muthee and team...

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Gor Mahia hooligans need be DEALT WITH, lest KPL forgets

Lest the KPL Displinary Committee forgets, we need to act and act fast on the local league and in this respect fan trouble as clearly exhibited by the Gor Mahia fans. We have said this before that Gor fans do not hold a monopoly for cheering their team against any other fans across the country. That they have one of the leading clubs ( with some rich history resting on it) still doesn''t excuse their behaviours.
Not wanting to continue with the rants, KPL please save our game, our other fans and even our infrastructure from these people who do not respect themselves. It seems you are held ransom by some of the officials in your backyard who might have vested interests with the club (or perceived support from members of a certain community). Many suggestions have been made from docking of points, to fans being banned for 2-3 games which all sound good from where we stand.
Oh and Gor fans remember you have just secured a rather lucrative sponsorship deal for the next 2 years. I'm sure the brand managers are busy chattering away and hoping that it doesn't prove suicidal lest your drama continues...maybe there is even an exit plan and it might prove to be an option soon...

Football : KFF & FIFA-Let's not have the charade

The world of football was treated to some very interesting times in May and the run-up to the 1st June at the behemoth that is FIFA. Sepp Blatter fighting ( well not that the only other candidate Mohammed bin Hammamm) for the top post for a fourth consecutive term really opened up a can of worms and somehow wiggle himself free to emerge as the only candidate and win this post till 2015.
Well while he may want to wish away the whole charade whether the claims against Jack Warner and Mohammed bin Hammamm are proved or not; there is going to be lots of ín-house cleaning and PR as well as trying to keep the two gagged for the next couple of years if FIFA is to hold its own. Some disquiet has come from some of the major sponsors but nothing serious yet ( some had argued that they would withdraw their 2014,2018 and 2022 tournaments...)
Back to Kenyan football, we had our joke of a football official from FKL representing Kenya's vote. Hoping they do not want to replicate a similar situation, it is about time the Independent Elections Board announced a date for the elections which are now becoming quite an obstacle for the local scene.
The whole scenario is not helped by the fact that the IEB seems to be reading from FIFA's script and had to wait for the elections of the highest office to end before making any move. For the interests of our country and for us to save face, please do not let the fiefdoms from FIFA trickle down to our levels. Mr. Paul Otuoma kindly hold forte for the people of Kenya and if we shall be suspended for your cobbled coalition Government coming to our rescue then let be it.
IEB announce a date and save us all this hassle, let the best man win!