SportPesa, the Kenyan online sports betting company, has sent tongues wagging over their recent big sponsorship deals. Not only have they invested in the local teams, they have also gone international with the investment in Hull City, Arsenal and Southampton all English Premier League (EPL) teams. This took many by surprise because they did not think that the company could afford to make such investments in high profile teams like Arsenal and Southampton.

In Kenya they are currently sponsoring the Kenya Premier League, Boxing Federation, Kenya Rugby Union and grassroot leagues such as SportPesa Super 8 League. The Kenya Rugby Union got its biggest sponsorship deal from SportPesa worth a cool Kshs.607 million for a 5 year period. Kenya Premier League is sponsored to the tune of Kshs.450 million, AFC Leopards 45 million, Gor Mahia 65 million and Nakuru All Stars 10 million. These guys have clearly taken investment in sports to a whole new level and things can clearly only get better for the sporting fraternity.

With the investment in partnerships like the one with Arsenal, SportPesa is giving an opportunity for the youth to prosper in sports. This is because part of the deal includes training camps for coaches and other stakeholders offered by some of the best professional in the industry. Our country has a wealth of talent and many young people have been held back by lack of opportunities to grow and such an initiative will be a big boon for them to realise and nurture these talents. Also through the EPL deals the Kenyan soccer industry stands to benefit from training, scouting of talent and international visibility. Given the fact that the government has for the longest time neglected sports me thinks these guys should be commended and not demonized.

In my opinion what these guys are doing is commendable given the fact that there are 10 other betting companies operating in the country who rather than invest their profits in the country choose to repatriate them. When such investments in sports are made, a trickle down effect is created which benefits a lot of people in the value chain not to mention families of the players in the various sporting fields. This in the long run helps to boost the economy of the country. As such I feel it is not wise to politicize these sponsorship deals as it may have an effect of withdrawal of such sponsorships not only by SportPesa but also other corporate bodies who might fear the negative publicity. This I believe will not augur well for the sporting community and the economy as a whole.

I may not be a fan of gambling but I have to say that I do appreciate what they are doing for the sporting fraternity. If you have to gamble you can at least have some comfort in that in the event that you lose to the house your money is going into good use.