What you need to know:
- Our neighbours Tanzania, with a poorer economy, have showed us it’s achievable through the Dar es Salaam derby between Yanga and Simba, which has been sold out in recent times.
- Mandonga is another living example and he did right here at our doorstep. If you can’t beat them, join them!
The Kenya Volleyball Federation National League play-offs and the biggest local football match in the land —'Mashemeji' Derby— are just a week apart, but you’ll forgive the ordinary Kenyan for not knowing about either of them.
Only the usual volleyball enthusiasts knew about last weekend’s playoffs at Kasarani Indoor Arena.
Similarly, only Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards fanatics are aware that the Mashemeji Derby is on this weekend. Why?
There is little being done at both federation and club level to hype this event.
Do we even have budgets set aside for these high profile events to begin with?
To put it into perspective, during the playoffs, fans had the opportunity to watch Malkia Strikers stars led by Mercy Moim, Gladys Ekaru, Edith Wisa, Aggripina Kundu, Lorine Chebet et al live at Kasarani.
Initially set for KPA Makande Hall in Mombasa, the playoffs were moved to Nyayo Stadium and later to Kasarani Indoor Arena thanks to intervention from National Olympic Committee of Kenya, who helped secure the venue.
While the corporate world has continued to shy away from sporting events in the country, it’s upon clubs and federations to find ways to entice them.
And it doesn’t require a huge budget! Take the case of Tanzanian boxer Karim Mandonga “Mtu Kazi”, who single-handedly filled Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) to the brim a fortnight ago for his non-title bout with Daniel Wanyonyi.
Armed with a loud mouth, ubiquitous confidence and his unrivaled “Sugunyo” punch, Mandonga went about his business with vigor and he was repaid handsomely on the material day as Kenyans turned up in their numbers.
Even organisers finally felt the heat elevating Mandonga’s bout to the main fight of the night, when it became apparent fans had come to KICC to watch the Tanzanian.
A big take home from Mandonga’s well-attended fight was the power of marketing in modern day sports.
It’s something Kenyan clubs and federations have struggled to master for ages.
SportPesa, during their glory days, showed us the way, filling Kasarani to the brim as Everton faced Kariobangi Sharks.
But they had to spend big to achieve this, something local clubs and federations shy away from. Even the Holy Book says that you only reap where you’ve sowed.
It was disappointing to see winners of individual awards at the playoffs walk home empty-handed at the playoffs.
Not even a personalised trophy for their hard work all season. There is need to empower the marketing committees/commissions/departments of our local clubs and federations with budgets to help them execute their roles.
This way, it will be easier to hold the individuals in charge accountable.
An even better approach would be clubs and federations employing marketing professionals on full-time basis to market their key events with the aim of making money out of them.
Gone are days when matches were just a contest between two teams battling for points or a trophy.
In modern day sports, match days are events which can generate money for clubs/federations especially in this digital era where this can be achieved both on and off the pitch through social media.
I’m yet to see any vigorous marketing campaigns both online or in traditional media for this weekend’s Mashemeji Derby.
Therefore, barring a miracle between today and the weekend, then the gate collection come match day will certainly be a pittance.
It’s high time clubs and federations embrace proper marketing and set aside budgets for it if they dream of being self-reliant at some point.
Our neighbours Tanzania, with a poorer economy, have showed us it’s achievable through the Dar es Salaam derby between Yanga and Simba, which has been sold out in recent times.
Mandonga is another living example and he did right here at our doorstep. If you can’t beat them, join them!