NAIROBI, Kenya Sep 27 – “I had my ticket ready for the weekend, I arrived there at about 1 pm only to see a number of people, but I thought it was too early, hours passed and only a handful showed up at the event,”
Those are the sentiments of a disappointed fan who attended the just concluded Safari Sevens at Safaricom Stadium Kasarani that recorded its lowest ever attendance with less than 5,000 fans turning out for the most popular social event in Kenya.
It was not a different atmosphere compared to last year where an estimated 6,000 rugby enthusiasts turned out for the event held at the same venue, but with the numbers decreasing it speaks volumes that something is wrong.
Organisers of the Africa’s premier rugby sevens tournament need to rethink why the event is losing its glory, in a tournament that used to draw over 20,000 fans when it was hosted at its traditional venue at Nairobi’s RFUEA Grounds.
Many rugby fans feel the change of venue to Kasarani Stadium that holds 60,000 supporters might have contributed to the low turnout, something that Kenya Rugby Union boss Richard Omwela said is a concern and will be considering relocating the venue.
“We will look at Nyayo Stadium and RFUEA to see whether we can get our fans back because it’s becoming a reality that fans are not coming here,” Omwela stated.
The tournament was last held at RFUEA Grounds in 2010 before it was moved to Nyayo National Stadium for the following two years (2011 and 2012) before shifting again to Kasarani Stadium from 2013 to date.
However, it’s not only a matter of venue but also the publicity of the event was way below standards with the tournament going on un noticed unlike before.
“At the VIP I could count about 100 people only on the other side you could hardly see people anywhere. It was a total bore! No one to cheer with, I almost lost my voice for cheering alone!” Martin Mwita, a fan who attended the event lamented
“At the village, thank God I had my boys, otherwise if I came alone, I could be dancing alone, I could count only about 100 people at the after party. This is not what Safari Sevens is known for,” he added.
Another fan said, “The most disappointing aspect of watching the game was when the famous “Mexican wave” was started it could barely go round the stadium due to the lack of numbers.”
Season tickets were retailing at Sh800 while daily tickets over the three days were selling Sh300.
Nonetheless Kenya, skippered by experienced Andrew Amonde went on to reclaim the trophy after beating Samurai International 38-21 in the final.
-By Alex Isaboke and Kennedy Kang’ethe-