Perhaps in 2020, we should have an award for football philanthropy to appreciate those individuals who have put their money to grow the beautiful game of football- a sector that most Kenyan corporate shy away from. Who comes to mind immediately? Without a doubt, Mr. Ricardo Badoer will be a top contender for the award if not the eventual winner.
Football as a livelihood
Like other sectors of the economy, football has borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s now 8 months and counting ever since Kenyan football leagues were halted due to the epidemic. With football employing thousands of youths, it’s a no-brainer that plenty have suffered economically due to the current football hiatus. Plenty of clubs are unwilling to pay full salaries to players who are sitting at home though it’s no fault of their own.
In contrast, Wazito FC President having a social education of going through difficult times in his youthful days understands how the families and children of footballers get affected when players don’t receive their dues. This explains why he’s on record promising to pay full salaries to his employees both at Wazito Football Club and Madgoat TV. And actually, he’s kept his word to date. Indeed, a tangible difference is being felt in peoples’ lives. I mean, that’s special. It’s no hyperbole to call it as it is: an altruistic act.
Football as a business
A foreign investor has decided to come to this country to improve our football by investing heavily in the game. He has made us see football as a big business and not just a past time activity. During his short stint, we have seen a merchandise shop, a team bus, up and coming Madgoat TV studios and a football stadium is in the pipeline.
He has tried to instill professionalism in how a football club should be run. Wazito FC now attracts top talents in the country with players now assured that their welfare will be taken care of without fail unlike in their previous workplaces. His tweets about the Kenyan game have attracted interest and hype to the Kenyan Premier League. All these promoting the Kenyan football brand.
Hope and optimism
Go through Badoer’s Twitter feed and you will come across tweets of encouragement from individuals around the country who are tired of the status quo and appreciate what is being done to improve the beautiful game. Scroll through these tweets for a while and you encounter a bag of mixed emotions. A sigh of relief that someone is doing something to improve the livelihoods of talented youths in this country amidst the staggering rates of unemployment. On the other hand, anger that it has taken a foreign investor to do the right thing while most Kenyan corporate shy off for one reason or another.
For his good exploits and forays in Kenyan football, it’s obvious that he has put himself in the firing line for those who hate change and progress. He has a target on his back and he understands that well enough. Comical and 2020 as it might well sound; the naysayers can’t seem to fathom how an individual who is affluent and successful could still care about the talented youths and try uplifting their standards.
In conclusion, football investors who have shown good intentions to uplift the standards of football in this country should be cherished especially when our football does not still guarantee a high (ROI) return on investment.