During the last 3 weeks, Rwandans have been treated to some sort of re-awakening happening within the local football fraternity. The performance of the Junior Wasps team has provided the hope for a brighter future that the football fraternity desperately needs in order to take it to the next level.
The fact that the wasps could defy great odds to emerge as serious African continental contenders not forgetting that they will play in a future FIFA world cup tournament speaks volumes about the huge potential local soccer has.
However, while the steps taken through the drive to develop football academies which are now dotted all over the country, is good foundation if Junior Wasp’s performance is anything to go by, one can say that such a foundation is just one among many that needs to be build upon in order to ensure that Rwandan football gets more returns.
There is need for more business minded men and women venturing into football. As the economic transformation unfolds, there is need to interest investors to tap into football.
For starters, those in the know are talking about both leagues having over 3 million fans. For any Rwandan marketer worth their salt, my message has always been simple: Ignore local football at your own peril. I say so due to the fact that Rwandans are very passionate about football. Passion is what drives brands.
The element of passion as a determinant of success in brand building is fundamental for marketing. To be more precise business or even marketing is about numbers. There can be several revenue streams and avenues for making activation of various brands using Rwandan football. For instance the second division of the national league presents yet another bigger, yet currently, untapped opportunity, for activation of brands that have a focus on rural Rwanda especially this year, more than ever before.
While closely looking at how the economic transformation unfolds, there are very good dynamics coming up within banking and telecoms. Within the banking sector, the 12 licensed brands will have to create room for new entrants. Maybe by the end of 2011, God willing, Rwanda will have over 15 licensed banks if we take the serious interest of some foreign investors into account. Within telecoms, the prospects of the Fourth National Telecoms Operator (FNO) is here with us.
Such a scenario presents a very good opportunity by any of such companies, both new or old within either banking or telecoms to inject serious cash in the form of corporate sponsorship of the second division league in return for being handed over exclusive marketing rights, to make equally serious in-roads into rural Rwandan market.
If it is a telecoms company being brought forth, the symbiosis will work perfectly well. More so, bearing in mind the fact the second division can be used by such a company to mount its vast majority of sales and marketing programmes using the rural based league that is the second division.
I am saying this due to the fact that as 2011 starts, the urban telecoms market seems to be saturated, leaving a very wide room for the rural areas of Rwanda as potential segments of the market with a high prospect for making cash .
How much money could we be talking about here? My thinking is that since the second division is absolutely free, we can seriously be talking about more cash than what Bralirwa Ltd coughed out to acquire rights to the premier league in which fans pay to gain entry. If Bralirwa Ltd spent Rwf 300 million for the next 3 years, for the premier league, could I be mistaken to talk about an amount reaching Rwf 500 million for the next three years for the second division? I really don’t think so.
What I am saying is that a serious marketing executive within either banking or telecoms, along with good will from local football administrators, can come together this year to see to it that such a corporate sponsorship is put together to ensure that the second division is given the support it deserves.
The idea is to further boost the foundation being built to ensure sustainability of successes already registered within local football.
The author is an editor with The New Times