By Presenter Puncherello Chama – Phoenix FM Sports
When ZESCO United released Japanese midfielder Kosuke Nakamachi in January 2020 I was left quite shocked. ZESCO United were literally sitting on a GOLDMINE and didn’t know its value and have decided to give it away for free.
Yes Nakamachi may have been 34 years old and nearing the end of his career and may not have been valuable on the pitch as he used to be but ZESCO United let go off K30 Million plus worth of money and that’s what is surprising.
I will breakdown what ZESCO United missed out on and why they should never have let go of Nakamachi.
- ZESCO SHOULD HAVE TAPPED INTO THE JAPAN MARKET
Japan is a country of 126 million people and though Football is not the most popular sport Kosuke Nakamachi is still a well-known figure among Japan Football fans and his former club where he spent more than 6 seasons Yokahama Marinos has a fan base of slightly over 1 million fans.
ZESCO could have tapped into this market but for some reason didn’t.
- ZESCO NEEDED TO CREATE RELATIONSHIPS
To tap into any market you need to create relationships and given that ZESCO United actually sold in Japan this was an opportunity that ZESCO missed.
It starts with creating relationships with football clubs in Japan, fansand other stakeholders like journalists etc.
These people are there and like any relationship it takes time to cultivate them but overtime and with care ZESCO would have reaped the rewards.
The fact that Japanese fans based in Zambia started turning up for ZESCO United games and bought ZESCO United replicas showed that through Nakamachi they had slowly started to create a relationship with the club.
- ZESCO UNITED WOULD HAVE MADE UPTO K30 MILLION IN SALES
Now this may sound like a wild claim but it isn’t.
ZESCO United actually made K96, 000 last year when Kosuke Nakamachi bought 200 replicas and sold them to Japanese fans.
Yes. ZESCO United made K96, 000 ($8,500 then) just like that without even breaking a sweat.
Now if ZESCO United can sell 200 replica’s to Japan with no effort then what more 2000 replicas with effort? And why not after reaching 2000 replicas try 20,000 replicas? Which is $600,000 (K10 Million).
This is quite possible given that 20,000 is just 2% of Yokahama’s entire fanbase.
Overall ZESCO United should have started small and targeted a segment of fans and grown from there.
- ZESCO UNDERUTILISED KOSUKE
When ZESCO United signed Kosuke I did some research on him to get to know about him better and one thing that is observed is that Yokahama Marinos used him in almost every marketing campaign the club was involved in and no other player at the club was used as much as him.
That a TV crew from the Japanese Broadcasting Network HKN travelled to Zambia to do a documentary on Kosuke’s debut in Zambia should have given ZESCO an idea of how big Kosuke is in the world of football back in his homeland.
Kosuke is also very market savvy and understands how marketing works and it showed by him selling 200 replicas in Japan.
ZESCO however did not realise what they had in thier hands and aside from a photoshoot they did not use Nakamachi to tap into the Japanese market.
- MISSED OPPORTUNITY
ZESCO and many Zambian clubs can learn a lot of lessons from this.
The most important is not to focus 100% on a player’s value on the pitch but also off the pitch.
Kosuke’s salary could have easily been taken care of itself from the money generated from sales in Japan.
If 10 Japanese fans started turning up to watch ZESCO that means there was potential to grow it and even in Europe Japanese fans will travel to watch their players who play in the Top European leagues. ZESCO United targeting 1000 Japanese fans to travel to Zambia in a year could have made the club as much as $1 Million.
If ZESCO United had sold 200 replicas they could have grown it to 20,000 over 4 seasons.
All this ZESCO United missed out on and this could have helped the club fund many of its projects including its academy helping produce better Zambian players.
- WHAT NEXT?
What next is that ZESCO United and other Zambian clubs need to realize the potential players have in significantly increasing sales.
Currently ZESCO are sitting on another goldmine in the Kenyan Internationals they have as Kenya have a population of 51 Million people and just tapping into 0.01% ( 5000 fans) of that population and creating value for them can see the club earn even a $100,000 a year.
NOTE: All that I have said is very possible in Zambia but it must be stated that its very difficult to achieve but with time it can be done and this article is in no way a criticism of any particular person at the club as I understand that pushing certain ideas can be difficult in the Zambian environment.