The New Times (Kigali)

31 December 2012

Rwanda: Lt's Times to Invest in Local Sport

column

Recently during a chat with a colleague, he educated me about the kinds of the French language. One explanation caught my attention and it was the kind of French that is spoken in Marseille.

According to him, the French spoken in France's second largest city is full of slang and that the town being a mainly migrates city it's of no surprise.

Being a sports fanatic I remembered the riots that have on several occasions occurred in France's major migrate cities and connected it to the chaos and mismanagement of our sports federations.

I concluded that many informal businesses are better run than our sports federations.

With governments emphasising the importance of Small and Medium Enterprises many informal sector participants have taken to the basic business management skills, like proper book-keeping and simple accounts.

Take an example of a Mandazi (Doughnuts) entrepreneur, he or she will be in charge of procurement of the raw materials, production, marketing and distribution some times with the help of family members.

At the end of the day, the boss will know what the business has used and made and what the business holds for the future.

Back to the purpose of this column, our federations should take a leaf from the French spoken in Marseille and the Mandazi entrepreneurs.

Colloquial language read known management and basic business skills should be applied.

Professionalising sports management should be high on the agenda of ministry of sports, and all sports federations come 2013.

A few straight heads at the federations are facing mediocrity mainly at the top and grassroots level which has affected the sports in general.

The leagues lack main bankrollers, save for football, volumes yet federations have offers in charge of marketing and promotion.

Running the leagues on a shoe-string budget is one thing that federations faulted on and hailed for.

Running the leagues has been a miracle.

Depending on gate collections shows that the marketing chiefs at the federations are in a comfort zone.

For corporations to sink their money into sports they need to see value.

Sponsorship shouldn't be taken as charity

And this has not been helped by the monopolist tendencies that have characterised most of Rwanda's big businesses. Rwanda's sport has reached a point where its full potential needs to be tapped. This is happening at the time when the entire economy is registering positive growth. With economic growth, various companies mostly foreign based with huge budgets for marketing, have set up operations in Rwanda.

These companies acknowledge the value that sports has on marketing.

In football, East Africa has seen a massive drop in attendances with only as few as 100 fans even less attending matches 30,000-seater national stadia across the region.

One main factor to blame is the growing popularity of foreign leagues relayed via satellite. The popularity of the English premiership, French, Italian and Spanish leagues has affected interest in local football and is likely to bury the local game if the stakeholders don't move fast.

To some extent, Rwanda's football seems to be sailing astray of some of the troubles that have dogged the neighbours.

Though there is the English league storm that has swept through the country, Rwandans still take pride in the fact that that national football league is still a hot topic on the streets across the country.

Teams still have fans following them for their up country engagements, and though attendance figures show a different picture for the so called small clubs, there is hope for the big ones.

When Rayon take on APR, the match can be the talk of town for weeks.

A beneficial setting to all parties has to be created for private companies to bankroll teams. Branding and marketing of the league has to be put in place for every club to attract its own sponsorship.

Clubs have to take the initiative of attracting investors into the league, as it's the only way that will create competition in the national league.

Happy New Year 2013

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