Dear Safaricom Rugby Is Not An Mpesa Stall!
It first happened at the Kabeberi Sevens, many of us thought it was because of the Governor’s statement a few days prior to the tournament.
We then moved on to the second leg of this year’s Safaricom Sevens Series, the Dala sevens in Kisumu. The heavy down pour on Saturday evening did the job for them, come Sunday they were back to their antics.If you have no idea what I am going on about, then grab a seat.
After a successful opening year, Safaricom, the title sponsors of the National sevens circuit have decided to make things a bit more ‘spicy’,if you may for rugby fans and hosting clubs this year, by closing the hosting venues down at 5:30 pm.
Firstly let me commend the telecommunications solutions provider for the great work they have done in the sport, since they came on board in 2011.
Transforming sevens rugby in particular, into one of the leading Sport disciplines in the country. Their efforts in realising the dream of hosting an IRB sevens leg in the country cannot go without mention. But there are some limits you just do not cross.
The National sevens circuit has been in existence since 1999, and has grown in leaps and bounds especially in the last year, where the series attracted record numbers. It should be understood that for the 5 clubs that have the honour of hosting a leg in the series, it is a matter of determining the fate of the upcoming season.
With meaningful sponsors still hard to come by, Mwamba, Quins, Kisumu, Mombasa and Nakuru RFC usually draw a large amount of their season’s budgets from the proceeds of the tournaments they host. Apart from the gate collections, the host clubs get a large chunk of their money from selling various vendor spaces around their venues.
As a vendor you agree to pay the hosting club a certain amount of money for the space. Hoping that at the end of the two days you’d have recovered what you paid and had enough business to make a profit. Now let us take the two most common vendors in a rugby tournament for example, food and drinks.
The average kick off time for a sevens tournament is 10 am, the average rugby fan arrives at around noon to lunch time. With the new ‘rules’ Safaricom have come up with, the vendors have a little over 4 hours to sell to a crowd that is pre occupied with the on-going matches, before they are ordered to shut down.
Previously, the vendors were allowed to sell until the last fan leaves the venue. This was anywhere between 11pm and midnight, how many hours are those?
That way, at the end of the day we had a happy fan, vendor and host. With this new arrangement we only have a happy sponsor, who has given out a million shillings, and made sure the host club doesn’t recover what they have spent.
Vendors who have risked their hard earned cash only to run into losses, and disappointed and confused fans. The last two will probably not fancy coming back for rugby again.
So will this be the case at the Safari sevens? I don’t see it being so, remember the issue of the bid to host an IRB sevens leg.
I do understand that the growing popularity of the sport has brought with it an unwanted reputation, and the sponsor would like to keep it’s image and name clear of this. Surely, there is a better way of handling it.
What Safaricom are basically doing right now, is feeding a baby (rugby) with one hand, while they are stabbing it with the other. They should sit down with the remaining three hosting clubs and find a way around this together, not boss them around.
They should understand that the sport of rugby is a sport that prides itself in it’s culture, and holds the same real close.
The sport involves many dynamics that cannot be dictated, like they do with their products. Even my local Mpesa stall does not close down at 5:30 pm!!!