Gor Mahia football club deserves praise for its impressive performance in the just-concluded Cecafa Club Championship in Tanzania.
Despite financial challenges, the Kenya Premier League champions proved to be one of the best teams at the two-week football extravaganza in Dar es Salaam, finishing second after losing 2-0 to Tanzania’s Azam in the final Sunday.
Gor posted impressive results at the tournament, beating Tanzanian giants Yanga, Al Khartoum (Sudan), Telecom of Djibouti, and Kikosi Maalum Cha Kuzuia Magendo from Zanzibar.
This rekindled memories of yesteryear when Kenyan clubs such as Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards, Luo Union, and Kenya Breweries dominated regional football tournaments and performed well in continental competitions.
Tusker was the last Kenyan club to win the title in 2008.
Management and financial challenges have since affected the progress of Kenyan teams, discouraging potential sponsors.
Gor Mahia held a last-minute funds drive two weeks ago to enable it to travel to Dar es Salaam.
Kenyan clubs will continue to struggle if we do not get sports marketing right.
While Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards enjoy a huge fan base in Kenya, this has not translated into strong financial standing.
This is in contrast to Tanzanian clubs Yanga and Simba, which have managed to transform their strong following into financial support from companies.
This is the failure of a leadership that knows nothing about sports marketing and how to attract and retain corporate sponsorship.
Gor Mahia’s performance in Tanzania is a testimony of the potential in Kenyan football.
However, things can only change if the clubs put in place professional managers.