Cynthia Mumbo: “We have to be brutal in facing governance issues”

· by WFS2017

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.

Cynthia Mumbo, founder & CEO of Sports Connect Africa

Mumbo is the founder and CEO 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 17-18 March 2020.

Sports Connect Africa is involved in connecting sports stakeholders in Africa and improving the capacity of sports entities and administrators through sports consultancy, sports workshops and forums, sports marketing, event management and sports development.

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 to come out of this summit?
A. The summit will be a great opportunity to connect and network for sports stakeholders, both from the continent and from across the globe. 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 commercialize 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 contraints. Players are not well remunerated. 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, a trend that seems to be picking up across the region.

On the positive side, Football Kenya Federation is more organized now and has a good development record, however, there are political undertones that have rocked the federation in the recent past and we hope that sad state won’t return again. 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.

“To be honest, we have some way to go to become an equal player on the globe sporting wise”

Q. This will be a congregation of experts from various fields of sport, which codes are lagging behind and which are showing signs of growth?
A. The areas that need intervention are commercialization and administration of federations and leagues. There are signs of growth in the areas of player development, however, there is still a big gap compared 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. We welcome such interventions.

Q. What commercial value can be derived from this Summit?
A. On the commercial side, I see that summit as a great opportunity to spur conversations and to empower stakeholders and really shape the future of the sport and football in Africa. The continent must embrace such initiatives and take advantage the chat the way forward.