Kenya: Sponsor-Less FKF Women's League Getting Raw Deal

2 October 2020

Earlier this week, Football Kenya Federation President Nick Mwendwa reported on Twitter that the men's premier league had secured a new broadcast sponsor.

Whether it is a hoax or a true development is yet to be determined, but the news has been received with joy by local football enthusiasts.

On the same day this "good news" was delivered, The Telegraph announced that Sky Sports had secured the rights to broadcast the English Football Association Women's Super League matches from next season, after the broadcaster swooped with "a landmark offer" to take all coverage of the top-tier league from BT Sport.

It made me think of the situation back home, where the women's premier league is in shambles, played in dangerous, unsightly pitches and gets almost no coverage.

Then I read some more about the Sky Sports deal and discovered that even before the broadcaster threw in the offer, the English FA had been giving the television rights of their elite women's league to the BBC and BT Sport for free as a strategy to monetise the league in future.

Is there any federation in Africa that has such a plan? A long term strategy to increase coverage of women's sport?

Research done in the US shows that women receive only four per cent of sports media coverage, yet they make up 40 per cent of all participants in sports.

The situation back home is no different, and this has a damning ripple effect.

Without coverage, the women's game loses out on sponsors, fans and money.

It also tees up a shortage of role models for budding female athletes. To develop the women's game, a grassroots push for better coverage is critical.

Some may say that it is the responsibility of female journalists, athletes, and coaches to clap back by launching female-driven sports shows podcasts, crowd sourcing and advocating for better coverage, but is it any secret that even the female sports journalists want to cover men's sports?

That female athletes spend more time watching men's sports than their female counterparts? The reason for this is simple.

Men's sports is what the culture values. It is where the status is. In Europe, there are some signs of change, thanks in part to a rash of sports media startups eager to build bigger audiences, but back home we seem to have resigned to fate.

One hopes that more voices will join the chorus of increased coverage of local women's sports, and that more professionals will demonstrate to all stakeholders that women's perspectives on sports can be entertaining, compelling, and financially lucrative.

There needs to be more days when women's teams not only get extensive coverage, occupy the front and back page of local dailies, make news as the first story item on TV and the last, because they deserve it.

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