NAIROBI, Kenya, July 20- Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) chairman Richard Omwela has promised the board will be accountable to every cent as he unveiled a Sh607m partnership with betting firm SportPesa on Wednesday.
KRU was engulfed 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 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 most difficult issue is managing this wealth. Money corrupts the mind absolutely. We want to make sure we are able to account this money we have received so that other sponsors can see the value and come in because we have not closed the door,” Omwela said.
“It’s something exciting because the sponsors have shown they have faith in our administration and it comes at a time when we have so many rugby programs which we aim at using in promoting the game in the country,” Omwela affirmed.
The Union will be at liberty to disburse the money across all their programs with a keen interest being given on Under-16, 19 teams, the Sevens Academy as well as all national teams.
Omwela has also disclosed that the upcoming Sevens Circuit which is yet to land a title sponsor will benefit from the new windfall with teams being assisted with footing of travel costs as well as other logistical issues.
SportPesa affirmed they were interested by KRU’s plans and ambition, especially on youth development which goes in tandem with their slogan ‘Jenga Game’.
“Our mandate has always been to help grow sports in this country. When we looked at something else to invest in outside football, we saw the rugby model as a perfect partnership for us and we hope we will be able to help grow this sport,” Ronald Karauri, the SportPesa CEO stated.
The news of the huge sponsorship was received hugely by the rugby fraternity.
Simiyu Wangila, the Kenya 15s team manager could not hide his excitement at the prospect of money finally flowing the Union’s way.
He observed; “Since April, we have been going all over the world playing without even a single cent for the players and the technical bench members as well. We drove on hope, desire and the passion to represent this country. Finally, there is something to smile about,” he offered.
The 15s team and the women’s team have been the worst hit financially, not enjoying similar financial privileges like their Kenya Sevens counterparts.
SportPesa also announced that away from the sponsorship, they will pay out bonuses to national teams whenever they perform well representing the country.
“This issue of bonuses has been one of the toughest for us because you never know whether a team will win or not hence cannot budget. The partners have taken a huge load off our backs,” Omwela noted.
Meanwhile, KRU have received an offer from an undisclosed company over the sponsorship of the national Sevens team, Omwela has disclosed to Capital Sport.
He however says for the deal to materialize, it will depend on current shirt sponsors Kenya Airways.
“Our contract with Kenya Airways ends in September but we have a renewal clause. However, the contract also states that in case we get another sponsor, then we have to take the offer to them (KQ) and see whether they can match. That is exactly what we will do.”
“We understand that they are in financial problems right now and we have been together with them since 2008, but at times, life moves on. If they won’t be able to match then, we can take the offer,” Omwela revealed.