At an investment of sh100 million, Safaricom has provided fodder to companies to consider other ways of investing in sports in the country to build it to great heights. The amount included sh10 million worth of prizes as well as funds for renovation of select community pitches through a legacy programme.
As the finals come up next week at Kakamega’s Bukhungu stadium, it is important to reflect on the whole tournament and see how to scale it.
First is the reality that Safaricom has now gotten into the football scene as it has previously shied away, preferring to invest in rugby. This could have informed the design of Chapa Dimba, where they invested directly in young people and not through federations which have failed to live up to the integrity test.
Secondly is the nationwide approach of the tournament. Over 1,600 teams registered for the tournament that begun in September 2017 including 1,342 boys’ teams and 282 girls’ sides. Here, all and sundry who could count was given the opportunity to show their talents.
Thirdly is the extra investment in renovating some community pitches across the country. This is very laudable as it provides critical infrastructural support to the community, to nurture more talents in a sustainable way. The challenge will be how these communities maintain the pitches.
For betting companies still mark timing as to whether to invest in football which they should because they derive their profits substantially from there, this is an opportunity to also consider how else to support this potentially life changing industry.
Betin Kenya promotion code for instance which sponsored Sofapaka FC last season is yet to renew the contract while Sportpesa also pulled out. The move by the government to increase taxes to 35 percent has certainly not augured well with them.
Through Chapa Dimba, several players were scouted and joined the under 20 Harambee Stars team while other joined various KPL clubs. Some of the players were Ahmed Subri – Al-Hayat (Kariobangi Sharks), Hassan Iddi – Bomani youth (Bandari), John Njuguna Euronuts (Kariobangi Sharks), David Majak – Kapenguria Heroes (Homeboyz) and Fred Krop – Kapenguria Heroes (Homeboyz).
Players who have called up to the u-20 team are James Omsinde Ashisoma, John Collins Njuguna, Ali Mwakiba, Ezekiel Nyati Mugo, Yusuf Mainge, Elisha Owino, Jimmy Wafula, Musa masika, Alpha Chris, Patrick Ochieng, Meja Henry, Alvin Mangeni and Mike Odhiambo.
Certainly there are already calls to Safaricom to sponsor the Kenya Premier League, something it should consider. It could as well sponsor a team in the KPL and the National Super League (NSL).
The programme was started with an aim of promoting grassroots football and propelling gifted players into the national team. It has been achieved but whether this was a one-time investment, periodic and ways it could be scaled is what Kenyans will have to wait.
The young people who took part in the tournament, certainly bet in various sports across the globe something the betting companies need to consider giving back, to even attract and entrench the betting as the benefits can be seen invested back to grow the sport.
But this should not just be in football. Football is most popular in the country but other sports are growing in prominence and importance, key among them rugby and volleyball. The next Victor Wanyama could come from such initiatives and any brand associated with it will be proud and increase its value.
In addition, the tournament also included girls and as seen by the Harambee Starlets determination, ladies should be a core part in growing sports as a profession in Kenya.