Transforming lives through sports

Transforming lives through sports

Sponsored by Safaricom

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Former South African president Nelson Mandela (now deceased) once pointed out that sports had the power to unite, inspire and create hope in a way that little else did.

And that is why for the past 20 years, Safaricom has become one of the biggest corporate supporters of sports in Kenya. It has invested over Ksh1 billion in games ranging from football to athletics, motorsport, rugby and charity runs.

Through events such as the Safaricom Athletics Series, Lewa Marathon and Chapa Dimba Na Safaricom, the company has demonstrated that sports have the potential to bring Kenyans together as well as transform lives.

In 2019, Safaricom was extremely proud to be part of the East African Safari Classic Rally and the Magical Kenya Ladies Open golf tournament, which were both sponsored by the M-PESA brand. These two globally-recognised events provided an opportunity to showcase Kenya as a sports destination capable of hosting international events.

Safaricom also revamped the M-PESA logo for seven days to pay homage to marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge as he successfully became the first person to run 42km in under two hours.

When it was announced that the Safari Rally was making its return to the World Rally Championship (WRC), Safaricom started looking for ways to be part of the event in a meaningful and lasting manner. The giant telco set its focus on supporting the FIA Rally Star Programme, which is a global initiative aimed at identifying, training and developing talented young rally drivers.

Out of the Ksh21 million it set aside for the event, Ksh15 million went into supporting three young Kenyan drivers selected for the FIA Rally Star programme.

The reason Safaricom chose to support Hamza Anwar, McRae Kimathi and Jeremy Wahome is because it always believed in supporting and empowering the youth and giving them a platform to showcase their talent, be it through sports, music or the arts.

When it comes to sports, Safaricom has given young footballers the opportunity to be identified through the Chapa Dimba Na Safaricom tournament, which has seen players like David Majak and Benson Ochieng get call-ups to local and even international clubs.

The FIA programme allowed Safaricom to support the WRC Safari Rally while also pursuing its passion point of empowering the youth. The selected young Kenyan drivers have the potential to become the sport’s next big stars, and with the Safari Rally now back on the WRC calendar, they can showcase their talents on an international stage. These are opportunities that don’t come often.

Safaricom believes in the potential of young people to go beyond and will always be open to supporting them.

The company also partnered with one of Kenya’s greatest Rally Drivers, Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo. Part of the Ksh3.5 million partnership included the multiple Safari Rally champion mentoring of the young Kenyan drivers selected as part of the FIA Rally Star programme.

Another reason Safaricom was excited about the WRC Safari Rally was the opportunity to showcase its network capabilities. A lot has changed since Kenya last hosted the WRC Safari Rally. For instance, Safaricom was only two years old, M-PESA was not born yet, and the country didn’t even have 3G, let alone 4G network. There wasn’t even Facebook or Twitter. One had to wait to get the updates from mainstream news channels at 4pm, 7pm and 9pm.

This year, Kenyans had the opportunity to experience the rally in a totally unique way. With Safaricom’s extensive network coverage, Kenyans were able to stay up to speed with all the action and even livestream the event. Fans and crews communicated, shared and posted proceedings.

As the dust settles from what has been a successful Safari Rally, Safaricom looks forward to being part of many more exciting sports activities this year and in the years to come.