It’s some times not clear why some people get so much carried away with other people’s affairs at the expense of their own. A case in point is ‘the soccer fanatics on the African continent’.
Allow me refer to Rwanda, many locals here have an unbreakable bond with foreign soccer leagues and yet hardly associate themselves with the local national soccer league.
After making a survey around Kigali, I realised that the English Premier League was the most popular league at the expense of our own ‘Primus League’ that came second before the Spanish League in third place.
One of the ways I have been in position to realize this is when a Primus league game coincides with one of those heart-throbbing premiership ties, say Man U vs. Arsenal, Chelsea vs. Arsenal, Chelsea vs. Man U and so on.
In such cases, you can comfortably call out a friend on the other side than find your way at the counter of a Sports bar.
Time and again, I have noticed a couple of Rwandans who are well-versed with all possible facts you can think of about their favourite foreign clubs but with hardly any facts on any local club. Such cases have provoked me into trying to research on the root causes of all this.
As part of my research draft dictated, I approached a workmate who happens to be a Manchester United fanatic. I asked him why he was more interested in the premiership than the Primus league and he simply put it that; the English Premier league is the best league in the world because it has got the best players.
At that point, my worry was how the locals hoped to uplift their local league when all they did was to turn their backs on it, abandon .
One reason as to why Premiership clubs have been in position to attract world-class players is because they have enough funds to foot these players’ salaries. Why? Because these clubs have a big fan base that is very loyal.
And also because these Clubs have plenty of advertising deals with different companies.
While searching on the reasons in the rear of this fact, I consulted one Musa who is considered to be a number one APR and Amavubi fan and while raising his observation about this issue he said Rwandans just want to associate with success and in case the team loses some even start regretting as to why they attended the game. So to him that’s why many fans would be available when the team is on winning streak and vice versa.
Unfortunately, in Rwanda, companies have been reluctant as far as extending their support (sponsorship) to sports is concerned with little knowledge that they can easily boast their product or service sales through this channel since soccer has the largest following not only within the country or continent but the world over.
In fact, this drives me to my next question, which is why it is taking our local companies decades to realize that they can actually market their products through rendering their support not only to soccer but also to the different sporting activities in the country.
When you compare the rate at which companies make advertisements in different sporting activities in Europe, it is extremely different. They make sure that their company names; services or products are branded on team jerseys.
But we have not seen this in the land of a thousand hills. The few times that local companies have given the sponsorship crap a go, they have concentrated on the numerical and verbal aspects, forgetting the most important aspect ‘visual’ or branding so to say.
Going back to some of the reasons as to why so many locals have abandoned their local league, one sports reporter told me that he admires the way foreign leagues merge African talent.
Well it could be fair to make any follow-up of African footballers who trade their skills in Europe but yet again concerned parties should think on clear policies that can be put in place on how we can have more number of these professionals in future as they turn back to helping the national team.
The issue of soccer authorities who keep on darting their own responsibility or doing them the other way is also a serious concern. I would like to give an example of the recent narrative that happened to Rwanda’s local club APR FC when the military side was burned for three years for allegedly among other charges included walking off the pitch before normal time during their third round of MTN/CAF champions league match against Togo’s Maranatha FC and threaten match officials.
After the club’s appeal the African football governing body CAF over turned the early ruling. This makes me sense whether it was CAF that made the bumpy decision in the first place or else it was a deserved decision.
Normally these are kind of punishments taken after inspecting the match reports made by referees, now was it due to the fact that the referee gave out a false report? Or it was the committee that found the truth of the matter, if yes then why the referee did not get any punishment. Whatever case it could be either of the two sides would have been answerable to any thing. Now is the club, match officials or CAF officials to be blamed?
Different football federations in Africa operate in a manner that does not mirror any positive commitment towards achieving positives. It is through these federations that a lot of misunderstanding between them and players. This was the case with the Togolese national team during world cup finals where players were denying playing because the federation was refusing to pay player wages. Mohamed Chite a.k.a Meme was the recent hot property for Rwanda, Burundi and Congo as these countries wanted him to feature for them but he proffered Belgium for them.
All in all, we cannot compare our football to that of western world as they have gone a step far ahead but if Africa is to do better they should seriously start working on matters regarding its own affair before getting interest in what happens away from their home grounds.