(Division One group B side Nakuru All Stars in a past match- photo courtesy Nakuru All Stars)
I probably think for all or rather most football fans in this country- the name Supersport shouldn’t be new. Football (Africa/European) has for so long been associated with this brand and of course will probably seem to stop.
For around some time now (since 2008) apart from Kenyan fans being able to watch their European stars- a platform has been created where Kenyan stars too can be made and watched by not just Kenyans but the whole of Africa.
The Kenya Premier League despite its shortcomings here and there has been able to attract huge crowds and even better popularity than in previous years when all you could hear and see was the European game. So last week’s historic pact signed between Supersport and FKF to have some of the Division One games shown LIVE on Supersport might have not been the best deal according to many having in mind the division has a vast majority of around 48 teams and the deal just covered for 20 matches to be shown but a perfect step in the right direction.
The financial aspect too might have not been met from the beginning but fore-seers would tell you; the best things come in small measures accompanied alongside very noble hearts. Noble in a sense that the main idea is helping the game and not rushing for the financial gains.
The first game to be shown live though featuring MOYAS and Nakumatt FC opened our eyes and world to a whole new footballing experience. Some of us might want to deny it- but I thought the experience was worthwhile. In the past I have watched some division football and boy- the ability to perform and passion to achieve at that lower level surpasses what we see each week on top flight football.
It’s a pity though some would want to be credited for achievements whose time had long come- actually even maybe delayed a little bit because of them. It’s in this sense that I’m so disappointed when a few football administrators chest thump on TV- telling Kenyans how much they are working day and night to help improve Kenyan Football yet they scheme day and night where next they are going to eat.
But amidst all the politics of division football- the TV deal brings along a new hope for the future of the game. The few aspects I’m going to address though entirely touch on the positives this deal should come along with in enhancing football development in this country.
I’m always trying to speak about the division one as an entity in itself but I seem to wander and slightly touch on its big brother the Tusker Premier League.
But it’s this simple- while we all glorify the Tusker Premier League stars after watching them either on TV or live in the stadiums, it’s a simple fact. The exposure they got out there, knowingly or unknowingly- has made them stars in their own rights and TV is one way through which this has been made possible.
Fans, coaches, scouts across the borders have over time gotten interested in getting Tusker Premier League players to their sides especially after being exposed to the Tusker Premier league on TV.
Tusker Premier League players have over time known better what to expect from sold out crowds, how to carry themselves in the full glare of the cameras and even how to be confident during post and pre-match interviews.
The same too would apply for division football.
While in the past, KPL clubs would go shopping for players in the Division One level without actually the fans knowing who the players were or which sides they played for- LIVE TV brings in itself a whole new dimension to the game. The fans now have a chance to watch for themselves which player they think deserves a move up- engage clubs on who/what sort of player they want and of course which player their club might be chasing but they (the fans) feel otherwise.
One perfect example that caught my attention in online discussions was Nakumatt FC’s number 10 Peter Nzoki who did not just score a stunner of a free kick- finished beautifully for the first goal to hand his team a 2-1 win over MOYAS in the first ever televised FKF Division One match. A few fans went even further to engage their clubs in online forums discussing why Nzuki is better than who and who they have for strikers and why he should join their outfit soon.
But that was just one game- what of many more others that haven’t been shown?
For so long- there has been a cry from this level of the game about lack of sponsors for their sides. Several teams in the past either disbanded or got swallowed into other outfits since they had not enough funds to run their businesses and pay the players.
We must all appreciate that at this level it’s hard to find fully professional sides but this is the perfect opportunity for investors- people/corporates who love the game- to come forth and get their names known to the football world.
Corporates should learn that football is no longer a CSR activity. Football is big business out there; it might be hard to get a big side/ might take a lot of money to sponsor a big side but since this is a beginning- I doubt it would take so much to invest in division sides. Remember the biggest of investments all started as a result of small and meagre ideas that later developed into the greatest of successes.
Again- since these sides are closer to the people than even the top flight sides; it’s a chance to connect with the fans at their level. Sponsoring one such side might not just go a long way in helping the players and clubs personally, but a whole new world may just be opened to all those talented lads out there who might just need this opportunity to make a difference.
And what a better way in this life than making a difference that though maybe small- but would change the lives of so many people. Isn’t that what mankind was made for?
The game of football just never ends and starts on the pitch- it’s never about the players alone but even the level of officiating players get accustomed to.
Refereeing decisions can make or break a team and the best leagues are made up of officials who always strive to be at their best at all times.
While stories have been floated here and there about poor level of officiating in top flight football especially in recent time- it’s a perfect opportunity for division football to lead the day.
It’s common knowledge that officials tend to be intimidated by huge crowds to award decisions in a certain pattern during matches. Division football thus gives these officials a perfect chance to learn how to deal with these situations better, with much more wisdom and transparency- in full glare of the cameras.
It’s also a perfect chance to all the officials to show why they need to be given a chance to officiate at the highest levels of the game in this country. While some officials have complained that corruption has kept them down there when their performances deserve a top flight promotion- I bet their worries need to be put to rest.
All the above would not best explain what LIVE TV would add to the Kenyan game at the Division level but all aspects discussed point to the fact that the camera lenses shouldn’t just be a source for entertainment but the lens through which our game gets to the next level.
It’s my prayer though that the division game gets trimmed to around 20 teams just as said by the FKF president in recent time and that in the future- teams get to have some financial assistance that comes with it.
Just as written above- the ability to perform and passion to achieve exists. Kenya has great talent- Kudos FKF, Kudos Supersport!
WHAT YOU MIGHT NEED TO KNOW
Ø Division One is divided into two zones; Zone A and Zone B.
Ø Each Zone is further subdivided into Group 1 and Group 2 each.
Ø During the course of a season each club plays the others twice (a double round-robin system), once at their home ground and once at their opponents ground.
Ø At the end of each season, the winners of each of the 4 groups play the winners of the other group in their zone in a two-legged play-off tie to determine who advances to the Premier League.
Ø The first ever live Division One game was on Wednesday 24 April and featured Nakumatt FC and MOYAS (Ministry of Youth and Sports) FC.
Ø In the first season, Supersport will show up to 20 Division One matches LIVE.
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