Kenyan rugby has received its biggest ever sponsorship deal in Kenya sports after betting firm SportPesa sealed a five-year 607 million shillings package with the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU).
The betting firm which already sponsors the Kenyan Premier League to a reported tune of Sh450m, AFC Leopards (Sh45m), Gor Mahia (Sh65m), Nakuru All Stars (Sh10m) as well as rallying, boxing, and motor racing have given what is dimmed as the biggest sponsorship package in the history of Kenyan sports.
The partnership—aimed at developing the national squads—will be broken down to boost age grade sides including the Kenya Under-15, Under-19 commonly known as Chipu, the national women’s teams and also include a performance-based incentive programme during international assignments.
Part of the money will also go towards boosting the Kenya Simba 15s squad that has not had a permanent sponsor for years despite posting impressive results.
“It has been a long journey where you put the Simba team on the flight to a foreign country without money but now it is available.”
SportPesa chief executive officer Ronald Karauri, termed the partnership as just the beginning of a long-term relationship with KRU.
“The idea of this partnership is to put dedicated resources behind each national team to ensure there is depth and sustainability at all levels of KRU so that our selectors have a rich pool of talent to draw from our national teams,” said Karauri.
The development is a big win for Omwela who promised to clean the mess at the union when he was elected chairman. The local governing rugby body, KRU, was embroiled in an image war last year with a section of board members accused of embezzlement of funds that led to some of the sponsors pulling out.
However, Omwela has assured new partners SportPesa every single coin of their sponsorship will be put into good use. The new deal puts pressure on national carrier Kenya Airways who sponsor the sevens team and Omwela challenged them to increase their package once the current one ends or risk losing out.
”The national carrier is still the official shirt sponsor but the contract is set to expire soon. They will need to meet our target to retain the shirt,” said Omwela.