The much-publicized Gor Mahia versus Hull City clash lived to its billing with quality football on display and thousands of mesmerized fans thronging Kasarani to create one of the best football atmospheres ever in Kenyan soil.
Despite Gor Mahia losing out to Hull City on penalties, credit goes to K’Ogalo who were clearly the better side throughout the game. After the match, Hull City coach Nijel Adkins said Gor Mahia was a “great side” and he was happy with the crowd attendance and quality opposition.
The near perfect organization of the match by betting firm SportPesa was commendable .The SportPesa team partnered with government to ensure that Kasarani was ready to stage the clash. The green manicured grass done in a record one month, well branded stadium and good marketing strategy was a major coup in Kenyan football and kudos to SportPesa and the organizers for a job well done.
The attendance was a remarkable sight. Many of those who made it to Ksarani have never seen the stadium full because of football. It rekindled memories of when Harambee Stars drew 1-1 with the Super Eagles of Nigeria. Then Stars were under tutelage of the famed German, the late Reinhardt Fabisch.Unconfirmed gate collection puts the figure at ksh 3.6million.
Our sports administrators should have carried notebook to learn a few tricks on what to do if they want the stadiums full. Below are take homes from the historic clash.
Kenyans love quality and organized sports
Contrary to a statement attributed to Cecafa Secretary General Nicholas Musonye that Kenyans just love going to bars and gossiping, there are true sport fans in Kenya but they do not entertain mediocrity. To part with their hard-earned cash, Kenyans needs to be assured they will get a well-organized premium show. They need to feel and be part of the event. That’s why the IAAF Athletics and many rugby events in the country get record crowds but some KPL matches have the technical bench as the only attendees.
Hype is everything
If there is one thing the SportPesa Marking did right, it was marketing. From the Hull City Challenge between Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards at Afraha to the final game, the message hit home that there will be a must attend match. The Hashtag #HullCityInKenya was well crafted and publicized.
The halftime landing of a chopper during the Mashemeji derby to the SportsPesa CEO waging his Range Rover did well to add the hype. Ofcourse it takes deep pockets to do all that marketing but one must ready spend to make more money.
Politics aside, the Jaza Stadi initiative is good if well executed. We need to hype local matches to recreate many Kasarani atmospheres.
Accessibility is key
Soccer fans were starved of football action since the three main Stadiums (Nyayo, Kasrani and City) had been closed for renovation. Nyayo stadium beats all when it comes to best location but Kasarani is not far off as compared to Machakos so fans found it easy to commute and watch the match. The ministry of sports should focus on developing stadiums closer to the people and invest on a good public transport system so that fans can easily access the stadium.These stadiums don’t have to cost billion but well done 10,000-20,000 seaters will be good for Kenyan football. Even big clubs like Arsenal and Tottenham started small and have expanded when the need arose.
One hundred bob can do wonders. Why KPL and FKF are fixated on charging above that remains a mystery.Football belongs to the people and our football administrators should focus of filling the stadiums, create a strong brand then the premium rises on its own. KPL matches should not be overpriced , let the common many come to the stadium and enjoy football. The middle class too won’t mind paying for VIP tickets but there must be something VIP in the organization. It doesn’t make sense to pay for VIP ticket then seat on wet iron shackles and when it pours you are the first victim.
The only thing SportPesa didn’t get right was selling of tickets on the match day. Impatient fans who couldn’t get the tickets and some few thugs who love free things ended up gate crashing after overpowering the officers manning the gates. This for a CAF match would attract a heavy penalty so the organizers should take note.
From a quick look, the stadium was full of people from all walks of life. The only way one can take their kids to the stadium is if they are assured of security. SportPesa did a good job and kudos to our security men and women for a job well done. Save for minor incidents, the match went on well.
Gor Mahia recently signed a deal with Italian firm Macron to design their jerseys. They should have taken advantage of the hype to market their new kit and sensitize fans on need to buy genuine club merchandise. But someone missed a big opportunity and we can only hope that next time they will be better prepared.
All in the match serves great to market the country.Hopefully a Kahata or another player gets a chance to play in England and even bigger teams visit the country.Bundesliga Managers are keen to have one of their teams play in Kenya this year and from the Hull City encounter, you can bet chances of the likes of Bayern Munich playing in Kenya are very high now.
Article courtesy to Michezo Africa