Thanking more on Rwandan football dynamics by New Times on 08/01/2011

Two major events occurred last year, which can be used this year to engage stakeholders to further assist with the development of Rwandan soccer. One major event was Bralirwa Plc sinking well over Rwf 300 million for the next three years, into the national league.

The Bralirwa-Ferwafa deal in terms of depth of the deal itself and amounts exchanging hands at $570,000 was easily the biggest sponsorship package within Rwandan corporate history. I am very sure that it will take quite sometime before any corporate entity commits on any similar deal.

Further still, the bigger picture implication of the deal is that it served as one of the biggest football sponsorship deals within the entire football fraternity in East African Community (EAC).The significance of the deal is that, yes-corporates in Rwanda if given a solid basis can commit big time into local soccer.

It was just a matter of time before we could be treated to another ground breaking item within the local soccer scene. When it was announced many people just shrugged it off.

Others were not moved at all, preferring to adopt a wait and see attitude. However, personally I tend to think that it was such a big deal. It was not a straight corporate buy in but it was what I can call an entrepreneurial buy in. It involved one of Rwanda’s biggest names in local football joining hands with one of Rwanda’s biggest names in media.

Albert Rudatsimburwa’s takeover of Rayon Sport was without a doubt very good news. It complemented Bralirwa’s efforts in more ways than one. For one, it proved that there is so much potential for further development of how local soccer clubs are not only managed by also owned.

For the “previous” owners of Rayon Sports to cede control and bring on board a new comer into their fold, spoke volumes that time is now ripe for other clubs to think out side the box when it comes to thinking about the future sustainability of their clubs.

While I cannot say that I am a die hard soccer analyst, there is, however, one thing that I am very sure about. That the future of any club in Africa lies in incubating raw talent that is very abundant in this  continent and selling  this talent for a much higher fee elsewhere in order to generate more wealth that is needed to breed more talent that should ultimately raise the stature of a club from one level of league to the next.

What am I driving at precisely? Time has come for one of Rwanda’s top clubs to move up the ladder and start playing real top flight African football. But making such a quantum jump would require the local teams to change radically how they perceive the management of their clubs.

As the new year beckoned, the Rayon Sports take over presented the entire Primus National League with a litmus test of how to go about making the much needed transformation in the management of local clubs in Rwanda. I am reliably informed that profit is now the overriding mission at Rayon Sports.

Apart from the numerous opportunities being chased by the new look Rayon Sports, the management should now angle for Kit sponsorship with one of the very many and willing companies in Rwanda. With such a huge fan base it will be very easy to convince a big company in Rwanda to sponsor Rayon Sports through branded kit that bears the colours of such a prospective sponsor.

By so doing it will be “win win” for both. Rayon Sports gets to have a big company to buy into its marketing collateral that runs into millions of fans, in which such a company can establish an instant connection with such a huge fan base. Rayon Sports in return, gets various forms of kit from such a marketing collaboration.

Given this scenario-how much money can we be talking about here? Definitely for a club of Rayon Sports stature, I think such a deal can be in the region of over half a million dollars-if it is stretched over the next 3 years.

In conclusion, I am pretty confident that Rudatsimburwa’s new management can pull itself together to hammer out such a deal and many more others considering the fact that profit is the over ridding motive at Rayon Sports.

Done that way, such prospects that combine social responsibility and marketing can serve as the new value triggers that can be used to undertake the transformation of local clubs.

By Frank Oluoch Ojiwah

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The author is an editor at The New Times


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