Sports personalities need to wrap up in style

SUNDAY MAGAZINE |

NAIROBI: The Kenya Sports Personality of the Year Awards gala has become the stage where our sports personalities trade their bibs for bespoke.

Apart from the silverware that is up for grabs at the SOYAs, on the sidelines, social commentators talk about who is wearing what.

But if all the men at the gala stick to their safe coats and ties, women athletes do, more often than not, miss the mark by throwing on just anything in the wardrobes.

In the 2011 gala, one female award-winner wore a hideous tailored skirt suit, while her counterpart wore a kitenge outfit paired with a casual jacket. They were among the attendees who did not get the slay-it memo. Someone should have told them this was a charm offensive do, and not a chama rendezvous.

Paul Tergat

For athletes who are sartorially-challenged, please consult retired marathon champion Paul Tergat. His suits fit him perfectly. Principal Paul is the country representative for, “Clean-cut Athletes Inc.”.

Sports Illustrated recently released their list of the 50 most fashionable sports personalities, which included all their usual American suspects. Still, this article begs the question: outside their team kit, can our athletes hold a candle to the likes of LeBron James, who is king on the basketball court and high priest of haute couture? And it is not that our athletes are wanting in the features department. With such a fit and sexy body, Malkia Striker’s setter, Janet Wanja, ought to be earning much more than just her wages from playing volleyball.

With a body made in swimsuit heaven, this lady can go places if her handlers (assuming she has any) think outside the volleyball court.

Victor Wanyama loves tee-shirts and Adidas kicks. He keeps it sporty. Dennis Oliech has been known to take fashion risks, and was one time trolled for wearing androgynous-looking shoes, and another time rocking a kilt.

Dennis Oliech

Jamal Mohamed is another football player who is not shy of pushing matters fashion to the edge. Wanyama once wore a tee-shirt that had the confederate flag, which is a symbol of white supremacy. (He later issued a public apology).

For a sports personality, that is the price that comes with taking fashion risks ... or buying blonde. One moment you will kill it, and the next they will be baying for your threads.

BUYING BLONDE

Most of our sports personalities — from cricket’s Jimmy Kamande to Brisbane-based pugilist-cum-reality-show star Kariz Kariuki— all prefer the casual streetwise look which can be bought on any rack and does not need any tweaking or shows that they went an extra mile. What they and others need is the services of a stylist.

Working with a stylist can give an athlete who is stuck on one fashion gear some dress sense and individual look. At a time when social media presence can push a player’s profile through the roof, our athletes still have reservations about spending their hard-earned dough on stylists and glam squads.

They might think it is a waste of money, yet a stylist is the difference between keeping people guessing and being a butt of jokes.

Come to think of it, the only times our athletes go for a makeover are right before big tourneys, when well-wishing beauty establishments chip in for charity’s sake.

Clothing designer collaborations with Kenyan athletes are virtually unheard of. Four years ago, two-lap king David Rudisha endorsed a shoe polish brand. However, taking into account that King David makes his money using his feet, you would have thought a shoe brand would have made him sign on the dotted line.

PODIUM FINISHERS

The same “haphazard” manner of endorsement will apply to players in the Shujaa Sevens team. Last Sunday’s historic win of the Sevens World Series title has placed them in prime position for endorsements. They are hotcakes. However, a clothing endorsement is a long shot.

Then there are possible athletes who slip through firms’ fingers. Outside golfing greens, the name, Naomi Wafula does not ring a bell. But this 18-year-old product of Rose Naliaka Academy is a continental prodigy.

She is a triple threat: young, gifted and good girl looks. Naomi is a national treasure.

If she was, say, in the USA, she would be making serious mint on multi-year clothing deals. But this is Kenya.

Truth be told, though our sports personalities are making podium finishes, they are flunking the fashion tests.

They are still light years away from making Sports Illustrated’s 50 best-dressed lists.

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