The grueling race to promotion into the premiership is coming to an end. The weaklings in this year's premier league, Nairobi City Stars and Ushuru Football Club have already been relegated to create room for the men who have stood out from the boys in the Super League to join the table of men in the Kenyan Premier League. A big congratulation to Nzoia United for clinching the title with four matches to go and losing only a single game the whole season.
As they rise to take their seat at the big table, they should take some advice in advance. The larger football fraternity in Kenya has gotten accustomed to referring to this club as Nzoia United. I am a known proponent of the idea of banishing all institutional clubs from all the country's leagues, right from the premiership to the lowest tire. Institution based clubs have shown almost no resolve to build the game in Kenya despite some of them winning league titles. The communities that surround these clubs at their bases show almost no attachments to these teams. The main reason as to why they end up having no supporters in the stands during match days. Supporters will only follow a club religiously because they have bought into the philosophies and fundamental standpoints of the organization. There might be others who might join in because of success. Glory hunters are everywhere and that is why there needs to be a core in the support base made up of diehards. The strong core of diehards is what separates Ingwe and K'Ogalo from the rest of the Kenyan Premier League clubs. A major thing that Nzoia should do is to brand the club as a community club owned by the people of Nzoia. Let it be the face of unity in the footballing world in that region. Naming the club Nzoia Sugar puts emphasis on the sponsor and her products. If this emphasis is not revised, the people will lose interest in the club when Mumias makes their sugar more visible and sweeter than that from the mills in Nzoia. Names have strong roles when it comes to branding and that is why Trump Hotels will be changing their names despite their owner whom they are named after winning the USA presidential elections.
The management of Nzoia Sugar should find a way of having the community take up the leading role and ownership of the club. That is if the sugar company is genuinely interested in growing a serious football club with genuine supporters who can rival other community clubs in terms of numbers. Having the Nzoia Sugar logo on the jersey of the club is enough publicity already. The sugar company should sit down with the community and agree on a deal that will see the community own a respectable stake in the club. Both parties can then work on modalities of operating it effectively to grow talent and provide employment opportunities.
If Nzoia cannot be re-branded and the community brought on board, in my opinion, there is no need of them being in Kenyan football leave alone the premier league. Institutions like Nzoia Sugar (K) Ltd and other corporate organizations should be allowed into football and other sports but only as commercial partners. It is the only way we will have a serious sports industry. Before they play their first match next year in the premiership, let Nzoia Sugar be renamed Nzoia United F.C. Failure to that, supporters will begin to disappear one by one. The name alone can create some attachment if gotten right.