There is no doubt that sports is on its death bed. Whether hockey, boxing, football or volleyball, there is a dire need for someone to rescue the industry. The only sports that is doing better, though not very well is rugby. But when you find that the national sevens team that is the pride of the country not having a sponsor, then something certainly needs to be done.
Counties have now been in existence since 2013, still limping but showing promise. There is hardly any county doing nothing. While the quality and quantity can be questioned vis-à-vis the resources available, so much is being done, albeit it may not arouse much public interest.
There are some counties doing well to invest in sports, especially football. Mombasa, Narok and Kakamega Counties stand out as devolved units that are supporting the development of football in the country. In Mombasa, every sub-county has a modern turf seven aside standard pitch with floodlights. There are also two standard 11 aside pitches that are about to be completed.
Narok and Kakamega have built standard football pitches. Kenya Premier League (KPL) teams ably use the pitches for their matches. Sofapaka has Narok Stadium while Kakamega Homeboyz and AFC Leopards share the Bukhungu stadium in Kakamega.
This is the first way counties can support sports; development of stadiums. The Meru County government is building the Kinoru stadium and likely completion date is June this year. Other counties who have shown interest include the Uasin Gishu and Kisumu counties.
The growth of sports world over has linked, especially with creating a rich fanbase, with local teams. Local teams whether American football, basketball, cricket, soccer, the script is the same; people easily associate with teams and some players they consider their own. This then grows into a huge, country-wide and international fan base.
This provides a great opportunity for partnerships. Betin for instance that is invested in football could be approached to brand the stadium, ensuring visibility of their brand in all matches and residents. They could also sponsor the local team and get visibility whenever and wherever they play. This will certainly invite more brands which could consider doing other marketing arrangements, like interiors.
The fans that will be attending the games will be paying entrance fees which would be used for the maintenance of the stadium and supporting local sports initiatives, depending with the design.
In addition, the pitch provides job opportunities for tens of locals in diverse sectors, both skilled and unskilled, concretely supporting initiatives to reduce the huge unemployment rates in the country especially among young people which is more than 40 percent.
A local pitch naturally helps tap and nurture younger talent. World over, academies are the basic building blocks for sportsmen and women, something the counties will be contributing. Future stars would come from these stadiums not only bringing pride to the county and country but also potentially give back to create more stars like him or her.
There are also local vendors who sell their wares during matches, inside and outside the stadiums. The hawking industry is a multi-million empire and supports thousands of livelihoods. The hawkers would get an enabling environment to thrive and provide for their families.
Kazakhstan government for a while sponsored Atletico Madrid and the ripple effect was increased tourism in their country. Locally, only Vihiga County has done this, something other counties could but with clarity on what they want to gain from it.
In addition, international team that are coming for regional or international competitions including those heading to neighboring countries often chose to train in Kenya because of conducive whether, similar to what they will be facing. Here, the stadium would host these teams and also earn revenues.
From economic and social lenses, county governments will sustainably gain by constructing stadiums, something some are already ripping dividends. Young people being idle which leads them to drugs and substance abuse can be a thing of the past.