The Kenya Premier League at the moment is not attractive enough to sponsors says Ronald Okoth our feature athlete of the month. Okoth believes the only way the league will be able to bring corporates and sponsors on board is if they put in effort into attracting fans to the stadium. The Sofapaka forward sat down with us to discuss issues ranging from sports management to challenges in the premier league…
A.S.N: Congratulations on successfully donating over 50 pairs of football boots to underprivileged children. What was the inspiration behind 1 kid 1 pair campaign?
Okoth: Thank you so much, my target is to hit 500 pairs meaning 500 kids country wide would have benefited from the campaign. The motivation behind it is my own experience growing up in upcountry where my mum had to sacrifice her hard earned money to buy me my first pair of shoes. I want to help boys and girls today who have to cope with playing football bare foot or if they are lucky, with sandals. Hopefully the campaign will go a long way in supporting their development in to professional footballers.
A.S.N.: You recently founded a company, R.O. Sports, please tell us a bit more about it.
Okoth: R.O. Sports is a sports consultancy company that has its wings spread quite across many services. We organize for our players trials at various clubs within and outside Kenya. We strive to look for potential endorsement opportunities for all the upcoming players. We also try and look for potential sports scholarship opportunities because we believe it’s healthy to have a good balance between football and education in preparation for life after football. Last but not least we offer financial and business advisory services to players with interests on the same.
A.S.N.: Before you joined Sofapaka early last year, there was a period where you were absent from the local football scene, what were you up to and how were you able to stay fit?
Okoth: I took a sabbatical to reflect on things I’d love to do outside football. I was able to venture into football commentary and analysis on mainstream media which I still do to date. I was able to keep fit by playing several high profile matches with my neighborhood team. Among the teams we played against was Sofapaka F.C. You can now join the dots!!!
A.S.N.: How come Kenyan football seems to be on a downward spiral? This season for instance numerous teams have had to forfeit matches due to a lack of financial support, what can we do to salvage the situation?
Okoth: Things started going down the drain when Supersport packed their bags and left, during their tenure all clubs would enjoy sponsorship, games were broadcast live and in HD, we even had a youth tournament where all KPL teams had an U20 side that would compete in it. Ever since they left, the league has not been able to attract sponsors as they don’t see any return on their investments. The earlier we start marketing our league and bring back the fans to the stadia the better it will be for us. Corporates and sponsors look at numbers plus integrity which unfortunately the football officials lack.
A.S.N.: What exactly does Sofapaka do right that other clubs should learn a thing or two especially when it comes to managing their finances?
Okoth: Sofapaka to me is probably the best club I’ve ever played for, what sets it apart from any other club is the passion and love the President Elly Kalekwa has for it. The management straight from the top is committed to ensure the club runs smoothly even during tough times. Our President revolutionized club football in East Africa. He introduced player contracts, medical covers and opened the door for foreign players to grace our league.