Football is the most globalized sport today and it is played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 nations. This article highlights the benefits of marketing through football and states various examples. The 5 areas of marketing in football organizations are highlighted and the various football products brought into perspective (Pierre Lanfranchi (2004). The article discusses the role of football in Marketing Kenya Methodist University (KeMU) through different channels . The Kenya Methodist University women soccer team, men and junior team have been used as a marketing tool in this article. The women soccer team qualified for the National Women Premier league in 2014 which is the highest level in the country while the men participated in the National Superleague. In the beginning of 2016 the KeMU women team had a total of 9 players in the Senior National team. In this article it is observed that the level of sponsorship in soccer in Western countries is higher than in Africa and more so Kenya. The article provides recommendations on how KeMU soccer teams can emulate marketing strategies used by the more established soccer teams. The key words in this article are Kenya Methodist University, football and marketing.
Football or soccer is a sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 nations, making it the world’s most popular sport. FIFA has 209 members compared to the United Nations 193 states. The Laws of the Game were originally codified in England by The Football Association in 1863. Association football is governed internationally by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA; French: Fédération Internationale de Football Association), which organizes World Cups for both men and women every four years. (Adrian 2005). The Kenya Methodist University (KeMU) has a soccer team for men, women and a junior team. The Men soccer team participated in the National Super League while the women are in the premier league which is the highest tier in the country. The philosophy of the team is to embrace sportsmanship and to make a person first then a player. Football in KeMU is education, passion, joy, happiness and combat.
This is a subdivision of marketing which focuses both on the promotion of sports events and teams as well as the promotion of other products and services through sporting events and sports teams. It is a service in which the element promoted can be a physical product or a brand name. The goal is to provide the client with strategies to promote the sport or to promote something other than sport through sports. These strategies follow the traditional four “P”‘s of general marketing Product, Price, Promotion and Place, another four “P”s are added to sport marketing, relating to the fact sports are considered to be a service. The additional 4 P’s are: Planning, Packaging, Positioning and Perception. The addition of the four extra elements is called the “sport marketing mix. (Mullin, Hardy, Sutton 2014)
To promote the products or services, the companies and associations use different channels such as sponsorships of teams or athletes, television or radio advertisement during the different broadcast sports events and celebrations, and/or advertisement on sporting venues. “Street marketing of sport” which considers sport marketing through billboards on the street and also through urban elements (street lighters and sidewalks, etc.) to help promote and gain publicity during major worldwide sporting events such as the Football World Cup, the Olympic Games, the Super Bowl or the Winter Olympic Games. (Beech and Chadwick 2006)
Marketing through football
When managers of sports organizations are asked what “marketing” is, they give responses such as publicity, sponsorship, spending without the guarantee of profitability, creating a good image, the key to success etc. There are five areas of marketing in football organizations as explained by (Pierre Lanfranchi 2004). These areas are corporate marketing, Service marketing, social-cause marketing, Fund-raising marketing and Internal marketing.
Corporate marketing is the means by which a corporation or organization attracts potential customers. Some of the new marketing tools the internet has produced are: E-Newsletters, Search engine optimization, live chat, discussion forums, pop-up adds and blogs, internet publicity campaigns and virtual marketing. (Jay 2006).
Digital Business Daily of Tuesday June 21, 2016 explains that as soccer continues to grow, local clubs are embracing Information Communication Technology (ICT) to market themselves, their products and inform followers. The clubs believe that by embracing ICT they will open up new fundraising avenues and attract sponsors. According to the report Gor Mahia FC, AFC Leopards, Sofapaka and Ulinzi Stars have the most active websites. Clubs can sell their merchandise online and also do ticketing. Gor Mahia fan club has an official application that introduces a host of features which make accessing the teams information through smartphone and web enabled device including smart TV, smart watches, tablets etc.
Services’ marketing is a sub-field of marketing, which can be split into the two main areas of goods marketing (which includes the Marketing of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and durables) and services marketing. Services marketing typically refer to both Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B) services. In 2015 Gor Mahia football club and Elliot Bread signed a deal that kicked off on Tuesday 1 September, 2015. In the agreement Elliot bread agreed to offer Ksh 1 per bread to Gor Mahia. Moses Ogeto the sales manager at Elliots Bread confirmed the five year deal. The Manager said that Elliot Bread had the capacity to produce enmase and at the end of the sales they will calculate what is owed to Gor Mahia and have it remitted to them at the close of each month. The distributors for the bread, some Gor Mahia officials and Elliots staff were in a collaborative meeting by the time of going to the press. (Korir 2015).
Posta Rangers is a club in Kenya that participates in the Kenya Premier League (KPL) and is sponsored by Postal Corporation of Kenya. The Kenya Premier League is televised and wached by many fans hence a good avenue for the Corporation to market its services such as Express Mail Service (EMS), Posta Pesa and Posta parcel. (Wandera 2015).
According to (Joe, 2002) social-cause marketing refers to a type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a for-profit business and a ting effort for social and other charitable causes, including in-house marketing efforts by non-profit organizations. Joe (2002) further states that a growing number of individuals, companies and organizations, giving is a powerful tool to be used in a calculated program of public relations and long term investing.
Marketing and fundraising are two halves of a whole. But when they don’t operate that way, the outcome of each team’s efforts is far less than it could be, diminishing an organization’s ability to engage its base (and so, to make its desired impact). If bridging the marketing-fundraising gap is the goal, the pathway to getting there has to be supported by your leadership (Schwatz 2002). When Gor Mahia football club partnered with TUZO which is a product of Kenya’s largest milk processor Brookside Dairies they agreed that the club would get 10% of the sale of its branded replica kit designed and manufactured by Italian sportswear company LEGEA (Maingi 2010).
Every business has at least two types of customers: internal and external. While companies usually focus on the external customers – the people who purchase their products and services – internal customers are also important. According to Kathleen (2014), Internal marketing of your business systems is what you know about your company’s infrastructure that your customer may not know. She further states that external marketing is what the world sees or perceives. It includes advertising, website, blog, social media marketing and direct marketing.
Internal customers are the employees that work for the company. Regardless of their job function, they rely on other employees, teams, and the company for support and information. As a result, marketing to these internal customers is a vital aspect to the effectiveness of a company. If internal marketing is well done employee satisfaction leads to customer satisfaction hence it is important to satisfy employees’ needs before the company can satisfy the needs of its customers. (Jeremy 2011).
Benefits of Marketing through football
Sponsorship of events
In 2012, the Kenya Premier League (KPL) administrators agreed a deal with giant alcohol manufacturer East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL) over the sponsorship of the local top flight football league. The three year deal was close to Ksh 170 million. The agreement saw EABL under its strongest brand Tusker become the official sponsor of the league thereby renaming the competition to the “Tusker Premier League”.Most of the proceeds from the EABL went directly to to the 16 clubs in the competition while a portion was used by the administration for the facilitation and logistical operations. Under the deal, KPL received Ksh 55 million per year for 3 years with each of the 16 clubs benefitting from more funds. (kwalimwa 2012).
KeMU organized and sponsored a soccer tournament and invited teams from Universities, Colleges, High schools and clubs. A total of 16 teams turned out for the tournament. Teams that participated were from Meru, Machakos, Nairobi, Nanyuki, Nyeri and Isiolo. KeMU is the leading soccer institution from Central and Eastern Province region hence the University found it to be a noble idea to bring together talented youths to showcase their soccer talents and embrace sportsmanship. The tournament was a success and it gave KeMU a good publicity in terms of organization and Community Social Responsibility (CSR). The tournament was used to encourage sporting talent to the youth thus reducing anti-social behavior. There was positive co existence between players of different levels of learning, community players and the Military from Laikipia Air Base. KeMU was the eventual winner of the tournament and this strengthened the fact that academics and co-curricular activities go hand in hand. This tournament encouraged high school students and even members of the community to join the institution. The tournament was attended by approximately 500 people.
Sponsorship of teams
In 2016, AFC Leopards which plays in the Kenya Premier League (KPL) landed a 3 year sponsorship from Betway. The new three year partnership is estimated to be worth 30 million per year. The deal made Betway the official sponsor of the AFC Leopards shirt. The sponsor is not new in football sponsorship since they support West Ham in the English Premier League (EPL). (Otieno 2016). Otieno (2016) explains that Gor Mahia football club which is the most famous and successful team in Kenya and East Africa got their sponsorship deal with SportPesa in 2016 few hours after their arch rivals AFC Leopards got their three year shirt sponsor with Betway. SportPesa became the official shirt sponsors for the 2015 KPL champions Gor Mahia. The value of the Gor Mahia/SportPesa deal is estimated to be worth 50 million a year. The deal is a 5 year contract.
KeMU has been the sole sponsor of both the men and the women team which participate in the leagues. The men have been participating in the National Superleague while the women qualified for the Women Premier League after finishing first with an unbeaten record in the National division one Women league in 2014. KeMU has been sponsoring the team by providing equipments such as branded uniforms, goal nets, balls, shin guards, training equipments such as cone markers, training bibs, medical facilities, and employment of the soccer coach. The University pays the registration fees for players and subscription fee for the team and foots the transport costs during league matches. The University facilitates allowances for officials and players during the league . The University also facilitates funds to pay match officials and hiring security personnel during home matches. The University maintains playing pitches. KeMU supports the team to participate in build up matches and tournaments organized by Kenya University Sports Association (KUSA), East Africa University Sports Federation (EAUSF), Federation of Africa University Sports Union (FASU) and International University Sports Federation (FISU).
KeMU can excel more in soccer and other sports if the University gets an opportunity to partner with potential sponsors such as Banks, Insurance companies, Safaricom, Airtel, Sportpesa, Betway, booksellers like Educate Yourself, Regent Booksellers, UNICEF, County Government, Mafuko bread and many more. This will ensure that the team has more equipment and facilities and more experienced and talented players will be signed into the team since the leagues are very competitive.
The institutions that sponsor KeMU can have their logo placed on the sponsor page of the KeMU website including a link to their website. The logo of the sponsor will appear in the monthly newsletter and the Kenya Methodist University Student Organisation (KeMUSO) magazine. The sponsor will have an opportunity to put their banners and signage at the pitch during home matches and pitch a tent to market their products and services at the University on organized dates. A perpetual award will be awarded to be named after the name of the sponsor. The sponsor will brand the playing jersey and short and also the training shirt.
Coverage in Newspapers
Media coverage of sport is wide spread. Media encourages attendance of soccer matches as people want to see the stars. It creates better informed supporters and it is easier to attract sponsorship. It develops personalities and role models and encourages participation. Football dominates most of the sports pages in newspapers. Newspapers cover football stories locally, nationally and internationally. Most soccer fans in Kenya and worldwide are obsessed by football events and day to day gossip and discussion has infused into the daily activities. Most sports editors have come from a football writing background and brought with it the love for the game, as well as a desire to focus on it.
According to Mc Chesney (1989) Newspapers usually sell more copies when the local sportsmen are successful. Coverage of area winning teams could lead to increase in advertising due to greater readership, which could lead to conflicting interest for newspapers. “Media covers sports with a clear conflict of interest. Their very enterprise is deeply invested in the continued success of comodified sport.” Mc Chesney 1989) continues to explain that teams and athletes in turn must attribute much of “staggering popularity to media coverage that promote their games and their exploits to readers. Without media coverage comodified sports struggle to exist. Therefore sports and media form “symbiotic economic relationship.”
KeMU ladies soccer team player Cherise Avilia Salano helped Kenya in April 2016 to create history by winning a slot for Kenyas National ladies soccer team Harambee Starlets by scoring a crucial goal against Algeria in the qualifiers of the Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) to be held in cameroon in November 2016. The story was well covered in The Daily Nation of Wednesday April 13, 2016 and the Standard. Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President Nick Mwenda, Cabinet Secretary for Sports Hassan Wario and the Head Coach David Ouma also featured in the success story. Players from KeMU who feautured for the Starlets in that match namely Samantha Akinyi, Esse Mbeyu Akida, Neddy Atieno Okoth, Cherise Avilia and Ernez Mudeizi Mango were featured in a profile in the Fever Pitch of the Thursday, April14, 2016 Standard . KeMU Soccer Queens were featured in the Thursday, July 17, 2014 in The Standard while participating in the Africa University Games in Kenya in 2014. The KeMU soccer team men was featured in the Daily Nation on Monday 4, 2016 after playing against KenGen in the National Division One League and an interview to the coach published.
Coverage on Television
In 2015 the KeMU Queens was covered in a sports feature in the National Television News ( NTV) sports news . Seth Olale was the presenter and the team got plenty of airtime in the coverage. The achievements of the team featured in the NTV presentation included first runners up position in the All Africa University Games held in Kenya in 2014, Winners of the East Africa University Games in Uganda in 2014 and the promotion of the team to the Women Premier League after winning the National Division one League in 2014. The presenter emphasized the fact that KeMU natures talents and also an opportunity for students to study.Cherise Avilia of KeMU was appointed to be the Captain of the Harambee Starlets while her fellow student and teammate Samanther Akinyi a goalkeeper as her Vice Captain in the friendly match against
Egypt at Machakos Stadium on Saturday February 2015. During the NTV presentation KeMU superstars and administrators were interviewed. The players were clad in branded KeMU Uniform which gave visibility of the University. The team was also featured in the Qatar Television ( QTV ) in 2015.
The national ladies soccer team the Harambee Starlets graced the Churchil show at the Carnivore’s Simba Saloon following their qualification for the African Women Cup of Nation in Cameroun. The team included 5 players from KeMU. The viewers were shown a repeat of the goal from Cherise Avilia Salano.Avilia was later interviewed in the show and mentioned the name of her University KeMU. During the show the Starlets players requested to visit the President at state house. President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto hosted a few selected players at State House on Friday, April 22nd 2016 following the historic performance by the Harambee Starlets and the story featured in the Standard and Daily Nation the following day. Essey Akida Mbeyu, Cherise Avilia Salano and Samanther Akinyi from KeMU were among the players who visited the President at State House.
TV advertising during broadcast of sports events
During the Tusker “Jenga Game” (build the game) 2.75 million shillings was won by clubs. The 3 month promotion which was run from October to December 2015 gave bear lovers a chance to raise money for their favourite clubs. The campaign had Harambee stars legends Joe Kadenge, George Sunguti, Joseph Murila, Tobias Ocholla and legendary Captain of Harambee Stars Musa Otieno as the headlines for the campaign which was appealing for grassroot support from across Kenya. 2 shillings from every bottle of Tusker went to the fan’s club after sending the team code at 21450. Tusker football club came first with a contribution of 704,950 shillings while Gor Mahia football club came second with 585,912 shillings. (MICHEZOAFRIKA, 30 Jan 2016).
Kenya’s top sports exploit Mac Donald Mariga who played for Italian Serie A Giants Inter Millan football club advertised the UAP Insurance Company in 2011. In the advert Mariga kicks a ball and says the words “football is my life; that’s why I insure with UAP” Richard (2011).
This publicity of KeMU by the media led to more enquiries from talented soccer players from high schools and clubs about studying in KeMU and playing soccer to the University. Many high schools in Meru county invited the KeMU soccer teams for friendly matches used as build up matches before their Secondary schools competitions as the result of the popularity of the team and soccer prowess. Games teachers and coaches from colleges, high schools and clubs seek mentorship and coaching materials from the more experienced KeMU coaches. As a result of the exceptional talent and publicity of the soccer teams the County Government partners with the University in nurturing talents in the County. The County Government includes KeMU players in their teams during Inter County competitions.
KeMU has provided coaches to train teams for the County in Inter County competitions. KeMU was also called upon several times to play build up matches against the Men and women Soccer teams in the County Soccer Academy that was formed to nurture talent at the grassroot level.
The National Women Coach of the Harambee Starlets David Ouma invited KeMU Soccer Queens for a build up match on 5th July 2015 at Kasarani Stadium. The Harambee Starlets used the friendly match to prepare for the third round of the Rio 2016 Olympic qualifiers against South Africa’s Banyana Banyana at Dobsonvill Stadium in South Africa.
Former Premier League soccer team Ulinzi stars played a friendly match with KeMU FC as part of their preparation for the 2014 Premier league and later Tusker Youth team played a friendly match against KeMU FC in 2015. KenPoly FC from Nairobi requested to play the KeMU FC soccer team in Meru in march 2016 after the men team performed well in the Superleague and reached the finals of the Kenya University Sports Association (KUSA) games in 2015. The result of the match and several action photos taken during the match were posted in the KenPoly website.
Newspaper reporters from the Daily Nation, Taifa Leo, Meru County Focus, Local TV and radio stations from Meru county like MUGA FM and Mwariama FM have been keen to feature the KeMU soccer teams whenever they participate in events. Soccer blogs such as Futaa.com and Soka.com have great interest in featuring KeMU soccer teams on their news after their sterling performances and often interview the coach.
Marketing of soccer through Social Media websites
Parkinson (2015) elaborates that with technology growing at such an exponential rate, marketing someone’s product or team, etc. through certain media sources can result in positive revenue and create more attention to not only fans but the broader audience. The most commonly used websites to promote a company’s products through social media are Facebook and Twitter. Parkinson (2016) further emphasizes the fact that Facebook receives more than 1.6 billion visits a week and Twitter receives more than 400 million visits a month so mar-keting products and teams through these websites could be deemed a very handy way to create recognition.
Digital media has changed the modern sports experience for fans around the world and millions of peo-ple actively share photos, videos and other forms of content on Social media, the new platform for sports fan engagement.
The KeMU soccer team has a page on face book whereby fans and players are invited into the group. In-formation on upcoming matches and their venues are communicated through the page. Team results are also posted and fans allowed posting their comments. It’s used to give updates on events and any issue that the team desires to communicate. The KeMU soccer team facebook page has about 200 members. An average of 80 people per day respond to posts in the page. alumni are able to connect with the current team members. More members are expected to join the page with time.
Football Online Media
Sports media is a multi-faceted environment .The football industry has been transformed by media investment and emergent communications technologies that range from the latest television and radio broadcast deals to the proliferation of online media. The football industry is supported by all media platforms including print, broadcast and online.
Futaa.com is the number one news source for football in Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. It covers live score , news for upcoming matches and the latest transfers and also results of other leagues in the country and even tournaments. The KeMU soccer teams have featured prominently more than 20 times in this website which has an enormous number of people who access it.
A brand is a living asset, brought to life across all touch points, which if properly managed, creates identification, differentiation and value. (Jeremy 2011). One of the most important assets of a sports organization is its brand (Bauer, Sauer,Schmitt 2005). Many brands particularly sports brands have transcended geography by focusing on the global appeal of the sport (Muniz & O’Guinn, 2001).
Hombrebueno (2015) explains that the Kenya Premier League (KPL) got a sponsorship deal from SportPesa in 2015. The popular East African betting firm replaced East African Brewers (EABL) in August 2015 in a deal with KPL that will run for four and a half years. The deal with East African Brewers (EABL) ran for years from June 2012. During that time the Kenya Premier League was officially known as the “Tusker Premier League) after the popular brand “Tusker” produced and marketed by EABL.
Hombrebueno (2015) further clarifies that the SportPesa deal was reportedly worth Ksh 80 million per year. The deal put SportPesa at the heart of Kenyan football. Football is the most popular sport in Kenya, way ahead of track events. Judging by the current online betting craze on SportPesa jackpot, this is an excellent deal for the betting company. The KPL sponsorship deal is reported to be on a 10% annual increase. This means that at the end of four years (2019) SportPesa will have paid over 360 million shil-lings. SportPesa Chief executive Officer (CEO) Ronald Karauri said that the betting company’s long term plans was to improve the quality of the league and ensure that Kenya featured prominently in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The KeMU soccer teams wear uniforms labeled KeMU on the jerseys and shorts during friendly matches, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) league matches, East Africa University Games (EAUG) and Federation of African University Sports (FASU). The KeMU jerseys also have the University logo on them. During Inter University competitions KeMU players and officials wear branded t-shirts and caps having the name of the Institution. This gives positive publicity to the University since the men and wom-en soccer teams are a force to reckon with in Kenya and Africa. Whenever the team appears in the media or playing fields the name of the University is visible. This can be seen on photos posted in the University website and in newspapers in which the team has been featured e.g in standard digital on Saturday, July 18th 2015 and Sunday, July 19th 2015 when KeMU Queens played in a friendly match against the Harambee Starlets and lost 2-0. The KeMU soccer queens were also in the Thursday, July Standard 2014 while participating in the Africa University Games in Kenya.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility involves companies incurring a responsibility to society beyond financial returns. In the sport context, corporate social responsibility is increasingly becoming important in shaping business, economic, political, environmental and social policies in the global marketplace. The role of CSR is gaining more and more importance to the public, so it is understandable that organizations see an opportunity to raise not only the revenues but also their reputation. A good reputation of a company, its brands and products will ultimately end up in having advantages to potential customers. (Kolja 2010).
The United Nations has promoted sport worldwide as a means to promote education, health, development and peace. Sport has a number of unique factors including mass media distribution and communication power, youth appeal, positive health impacts, social interaction and sustainability awareness. Sport is an important vehicle for corporate social responsibility as it can influence the quality of life of employees, customers, shareholders and residents of local and global communities
KeMU has offered a lot of CSR though football. KeMU has in the past held a referees and coaching clinic that was facilitated by former Harambee Stars veteran soccer coach James Aggrey Sianga and renowned experts from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and FIFA like retired referee Maxim Itur. The KeMU soccer team plays many friendly soccer matches with community teams and high schools. Since KeMU is the best team in the region it provides a lot of exposure to these community and high school teams and acts as the benchmark. KeMU extends its CSR by having a junior team where the players are given fundamental basic skills and learn the philosophies of the senior team at an early age.
Soccer activity can be innovative, opportunity driven and vision oriented. Innovative marketing techniques provide a way to support soccer and at the same time enhancing an institutions image. KeMU can make the men and ladies soccer teams to become clubs which will attract membership and a fan base. The University can partner with a number of sponsors for mutual benefit. The leagues are expensive and highly competitive. Sponsorship from companies and Non governmental Organizations (NGO’s) will lead to acquisition of more training equipment, maintenance and creation of high quality sporting infrastructure, great exposure that will include playing high profile friendly matches in Kenya and beyond. Sponsorship will enable the team to acquire high profile players that will give the team a good platform to play in highly competitive tournaments like the GOTV Shield and also achieve its ambition of playing in the Kenya Premier League for the Men and Kenya Premier League for the ladies team.
Fundraising is one of the methods that can be used to enrich a KeMU scholarship kitty to support players in pursuing their academic endeavors while participating in elite sports competition and University games. The University can partner with organisations such as Brookside Dairies that offer scholarships to talented and bright students. The sponsors can pay a given percentage of the student/players fee while the student pays a certain percentage to encourage parent participation in their children’s studies. A benchmark grade can be created for the beneficiaries to encourage students to work hard and be well rounded. The Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) can be a vetting point. International students can also be considered for such scholarships.
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Kenya Methodist University (Students Welfare & Sports Department)
Jeff Kubai Ikiamba – Dean of Students( Sports Professional)