Of strange jerseys, missed marketing opportunities

ODM Party leader and Gor Mahia Patron Raila Odinga performs the Jerusalema dance challenge with Gor Mahia players at the Two Rivers mall on October 14, 2020.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Gor Mahia had just beaten Bandari 1-0 at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos to clinch the Super Cup and Nyangi showed up for the trophy presentation ceremony in Simba FC’s red jersey.
  • A beaming Nyangi stood out like a sore thumb in a sea of green jerseys as players and team officials celebrated with the trophy.

Sometime in August last year, one Judith Anyango, better known as Nyangi, who was then Gor Mahia’s organising secretary, got away with blatant violation of the unwavering loyalty you would expect from a club official.

Gor Mahia had just beaten Bandari 1-0 at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos to clinch the Super Cup and Nyangi showed up for the trophy presentation ceremony in Simba FC’s red jersey.

A beaming Nyangi stood out like a sore thumb in a sea of green jerseys as players and team officials celebrated with the trophy.

And while Nyangi may have had a liking for Wekundu wa Msimbazi’s famous jersey, the Tanzanian giants, it seems, have acquired a taste for Gor Mahia best finished products.

Lately, Simba have made a habit of preying and pouncing on K’Ogalo whenever an opportunity presents itself for them to yank away their regional rivals’ best players.

Think of Francis Kahata, Meddie Kagere and most recently the redoubtable Joash ‘Berlin Wall’ Onyango. But I digress.

Back to the small matter of club jerseys. This week Gor Mahia’s newly-elected honorary treasurer, Dolphina Odhiambo, did a Nyangi by dressing up for an important club function in very ‘strange’ colours. The occasion was the unveiling ceremony of the club’s new coach, Roberto Oliveira, and Dolphina lined up alongside the playing unit dressed in a Real Madrid shirt.

Once that photo was shared on social media, plenty of barbs and bouquets were hurled at Dolphina.

I wasn’t surprised by Dolphina’s cavalier attitude towards her employer’s brand. Dolphina and Nyangi, before her, are not entirely to blame, though.

Brand marketing is still a foreign concept to many local club officials. Gor and Leopards call for special mention here.

The two oldest clubs in the Kenyan Premier League, have never really wrapped their hands around their huge mass following. Theirs should have grown into huge brands, but the opposite is the case. Let me explain. 

AFC Leopards’ bus driver was recently on the news, passionately talking about his selfless service to the club. Ironically, like Nyangi and Dolphina, he was rocking some ‘unfamiliar’ red jersey even as Ingwe kept screaming to the high heavens about their newly unveiled Umbro kit.

Before that, Leopards players had been sighted at Nyayo National Stadium dressed in SportPesa-branded shirts yet the club only recently sealed a multi-million shilling deal with BetSafe.

And not too long ago, Gor ’s most famous fan, Jaro Soja, loudly announced that he was venturing into manufacturing Gor-branded face masks.

I highly doubt this was a franchised deal but Jaro Soja must have made a tidy sum of money from the sale of his bootleg merchandise, or at least it promised him handsome returns, given that he even offered to donate a small percentage of his earnings to the club.

No wonder for more than 40 years, the two clubs have been walking around begging for alms.

soomondi@ke.nationmedia.com