A few weeks ago, while driving to Nakuru for the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Super Cup pitting arch rivals Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards, I witnessed crazy scenes on the road – fans from both teams hanging dangerously on matatus, all the way from Nairobi and back.
This backward behavior has been going on for a while and the traffic police on the roads seem to be intimidated by the fans. Both sets of fans have lost mates through avoidable accidents but seems like they are yet to learn their lessons. This should stop as it endangers the very lives of the fans that are supposed to cheer on the two teams and tarnishes the image of the two most followed teams in Kenyan football.
The best way to deal with this menace is through the fans branches. Most of the fans travel in groups comprising of branches from specific areas or close friends e.g AFC Leopards Kawangware Branch, Gor Mahia Lucky Summer Branch, Chini ya Waba etc and if these groups were officially registered and recognized by the clubs then it would be easier to regulate. The branches also need to have duly elected or appointed leaders who the club can use to pass information if need be.
If for instance Lucky Summer Branch fans hire a matatu to attend a match in Thika and I notice fans hanging dangerously or it being driven recklessly then it’s easier to get in touch with the leader and avoid such a scenario in future. The clubs can also sensitize the fans through the branches on the need to behave in a civilized manner on the roads and also pass other important messages concerning the team or even fundraise if need be!
Ticketing and merchandise sales
The idea of fully registered and recognized fan branches can also help the two clubs in selling their replicas through the branches. The registered branches can get the replicas at a subsidized rate and this would help in raising funds for the clubs. Merchandise sales is really big business for professional clubs but in Kenya, especially at Gor and AFC, they have never mastered it with club officials, ironically, filling in the vacuum by using their representatives to sell fake replicas.
It is good to see KPL newbies Vihiga United and Wazito FC selling their official replicas in a systematic way and even promoting the same on their social media accounts. Food for thought to Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards.
Finally, the clubs can use the branches to sell tickets. Recognized branches can purchase season tickets at subsidized rates and have a special card to enter stadia during home matches. There’s so much these two clubs can achieve through the branches.
The writer is the Managing Editor of Kenyan Premier League