Kenya’s world-beating long-distance athletes have perfected their well-timed trademark finishing kick as a strategy towards podium glory.
This success has however not been replicated in other spheres of sports.
But Kenya remains a home of outstanding sports personalities, among them the Shujaa rugby Sevens team, the Wanyama brothers’ footballing firsts in Europe, Kenyan-born Tour-de-France great Chris Froome, and the Dunford scions swimming heroics.
The infrequent success provides a generous proof that Kenya has the requisite talent to build its sports economy.
So far, there is no data on real value of Kenya’s sports economy or the opportunity cost of underinvesting in sports.
In a developing economy like Kenya where unemployment rate among the youth is high, every opportunity counts.
The global sports industry is estimated to be worth $600-700 billion (Sh60-70 trillion), according to KPMG’s The Business of Sports 2016 Report.
This mind-boggling figure comprises value created around sports events, sports infrastructure, sports hospitality, training, manufacturing and retail of sports goods.
Given that Kenya is a hub of athletics, it should follow that the sports sector is an important player in the country – only that creating sports value and monetising it is a convoluted mix.
Tilting this status quo requires a deliberate re-evaluation of the role of sports in the economy, backed by a long-term blueprint, and guided by experts with the sense for a turnaround story. Only then can we reap from the vast sports value chain.
Monetising sports leagues and events require tailored rights management, creating an enjoyable fan experience through events management and content packaging for broadcasters' and sponsors' needs.
All this is funding, an area Kenya has largely ignored, tossing away an opportunity to leverage sports power in facilitating socio-economic development within communities.
While the government has committed to supporting sports through direct funding, we have barely scratched the surface going by the immense potential that exists.
A starting point should be well-managed clubs that give value to fans, and subsequently attracts corporate sponsorships.
Perhaps, there are exisisting models that only requiure retouching to achieve the desired heights.
Corporate bodies need to continuously invest in growing and developing the games – helping to build the next generation of sports talent while growing the sport as a Kenyan mainstay.
Let’s borrow from Europe.
The European Union has elevated its sports sector to an important economic lever.
The bloc commissioned a 2012 study on role of sports in economic growth and employment and found that sports share of the GDP was comparable to agriculture, forestry and fishing combined.
As early as 2005, the bloc had already recognised sports sector’s ability to charge the continent’s 2020 goals.