10 April 2013

UGANDA : What Lessons Can Fuba Learn From Fnl?

IT would be incredible if most nights in the upcoming FUBA league season are as magnetic as the just-concluded Friday Night Lights (FNL).
But, truth be told, the majority won't. First and foremost, it looks unrealistic to expect the basketball governing body to secure the kind of sponsorship that would be required to do an FNL on most match-days.
As it is, the start of the season has been postponed by a week to allow the federation complete negotiations on a sponsorship package for the new season.
Reports say the new deal is likely to be an improvement on last year's agreement with Airtel but it will still be nowhere close to what is needed to recreate the lively, spectator-grabbing, gift-giving FNL outings.
But the other reason league matches will take time to regularly match the FNL buzz is in the fact that the league is still run by people who are essentially volunteers and are keen to point it out.
"The organisers of FNL get paid from this tournament," said FUBA vice president publicity marketing Ali Balunywa.
"They know they have to deliver or their sponsors will not come back on board.
"But if you look at someone like me, I am a volunteer with FUBA. I have another job so I can't be as committed (to the FUBA position) as I should be. That is why we have hired a marketing firm to boost (the profile of) our league."
Point is, FUBA don't expect to match FNL for its ability to capture fans this upcoming season. For now, basketball will still be FUBA's appetizer and main course.
Balunywa explained that FNL's appeal lies in the fact that it "sells a lifestyle" which is generally more attractive than the raw basketball offered by the FUBA League.
But one of the FNL pioneers Sam Ssebaduka said: "FUBA don't get it. We are not selling a lifestyle. All we have done is created a tournament that allows the fans to interact with the players. That's all."
In truth, FNL has only reminded FUBA of the potential of local hoops and Ambrose Tashobya and Co. admit that more needs to be done to harness it.
It remains to be seen whether FUBA will make any progress on that front this year.

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