Kenya Rugby Union got a major shot in the arm after betting firm SportPesa announced a five-year Sh607 million sponsorship for the federation on Wednesday.
Under the agreement, the online betting firm came on board as the union’s main sponsor.
The deal, which takes effect immediately, will benefit the national squads such as Kenya Sevens, the Kenya 15s, the Under-19, the under-15 and the women’s team.
There is a performance based bonus programme for the national squads during international assignments.
Speaking during the ceremony in Nairobi yesterday, the union’s boss Richard Omwela said they have contacted Kenya 7s shirt sponsors Kenya Airways to match the offer, failure to which they risk losing the partnership.
“Although Kenya Airways are still the Kenya Sevens shirt sponsors, we have sent them a letter asking them to match the deal we have received. The ball is in their court,” said Omwela.
Asked whether the betting firm will top up an additional amount on the Sh607 million kitty to land the shirt sponsorship rights of the high-flying Kenya Sevens team, he retorted: “We have not agreed on that, but we are open. It is something we would be discussing.”
The deal between the union and the financially ailing Kenya Airways expires in September. The SportPesa partnership is a big score for Kenya rugby. It is the first time that the union has landed a multi-million deal, which will ensure financial stability within its structures.
SportPesa, have, in the past, entered into partnerships with various sports organisations such as the Kenyan Premier League, Football Kenya Federation as well as Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards football clubs, but for the first time they made public the money involved in rugby.
“SportPesa are coming in as official sponsors of Kenya Rugby Union with particular interest in youth development,” said Sport Pesa chief executive officer Ronald Karauri.
For his part, Omwela who returned to the helm of the union in March last year, said: “It is a great day in the history of Kenyan rugby. Since the sport was played, we have never seen such a figure and we thank SportPesa for walking with us.
“We are pleased that the partnership touches on the very core of our rugby development and sustainability. Kenyan rugby is destined for rapid growth,” he added.
Omwela also thanked the players for remaining steadfast even when the union did not have money.