World Football Summit - taking the African game to the next level

By Partnered Content Time of article published Feb 23, 2020

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DURBAN - One of Africa’s young and influential sports administrators, Cynthia Mumbo has described the upcoming World Football Summit (WFS) Africa as an opportune time for the continent to have a serious conversation around the continent’s untapped potential.

Mumbo is the founder and chief executive of Sports Connect Africa, a Kenyan-based sports consultancy that focuses on connecting and empowering sports stakeholders in Africa. She will be moderating some of the sessions at the WFS Africa in Durban from March 17-18.

WFS Africa caught up with Cynthia to ask her about the summit, her overview of African sport and other areas affecting the continent.

Q. How important is the WFS Africa for the general growth of the game on the continent?

A. Over the last few years, there has been a lot of conversations around the untapped potential of football and the sport in general in Africa. I believe the WFS Africa is timely as it will bring different stakeholders within the sport and football ecosystem on the continent to discuss pertinent issues affecting the game.

Q. What are the outcomes you expect from this summit?

A. There are some outcomes I hope to see from the discussions:

A clear understanding of where we are as a continent. What does football look like in Africa? What does football mean to the African continent?

An understanding of the African consumer - the fan - their consumption patterns

The football business landscape on the continent and how to commercialise the game at

every level.

Technology’s role in the development of the game in Africa.

Data, data, data. We say it is king, how does this translate to football in Africa?

Federations, their governance and most importantly their sustainability

What will football look like in Africa in 10 years?

Q. From Kenya or East Africa’s point of view, what is the state of the sport?

A. There are mixed feelings about the sport in East Africa. With the exit of Supersport and Sportpesa as partners to the game in the region, football has stagnated, especially in Kenya. We are seeing pockets of partnerships with betting brands getting into the grassroots space in Kenya. But this has not translated to the commercial development of the game.

The Kenya Premier League is struggling with no official sponsor and news of teams not making it for games day after day because of financial constraints. The structure does not support professional players but rather semi-pro players. The league is not sustainable. The league has also been rocked with players being banned over match-fixing.

On the positive side, Football Kenya Federation is more organised now and has a good development record, however, there are political undertones that have rocked the federation in the recent past. The game in Uganda and Tanzania is more stable, judging by the progress of their national teams, Uganda Cranes and Taifa Stars, and the investment behind the local leagues and teams by sponsors.

Q. This will be a congregation of experts from various sports - which codes are lagging behind and which are showing signs of growth?

A. The areas that need intervention are commercialisation and administration of federations and leagues.

There are signs of growth in the areas of player development, however, there is still a big gap in this area. With FIFA committing funds to develop the sport, it will be interesting to see how this will change the football landscape.

Q. Is Africa ready to become an equal player on the globe sporting wise?

A. To be honest, we have some way to go. We must be brutal in facing governance issues that deter the sports from moving forward. We must look at developing infrastructure at the grassroots level and be keen on empowering.

However, I said at the beginning that the WFS Africa are some of the vehicles that can precipitate the growth of the game in Africa.

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