Meet the Match

A Kenyan Sports Administrator on A Mission

As a professional in public relations, Barbara never dreamed of working in the sports industry. Although she loved playing sports as a child, sports administration careers for women were almost non-existent. “I fell into a sport career by total accident while working for a major PR firm. One day, the company assigned me to do PR for the Kenya Cricket Association. My director gave me the cricket account to handle, but told me it was small fish. Well, that small fish has been the greatest experience of my life. It changed my focus. I didn’t plan to go into sport, but it has been the best thing that has happened to me.”

Now Barbara has become the first female sports administrator for two heavily male-dominated sports – rugby and cricket. After rebuilding the Kenya Rugby Union and creating a semi-professional national men’s team, Barbara was hotly pursued by Cricket Kenya to be the General Manager and restore their status in the International Cricket Council. “Ten years ago, Cricket Kenya was on the verge of being admitted to the ICC, but failed. My role was to take us back there through a series of targeted activities, which included putting the right people in the right job. This is a crucial year for us as we must gain acceptance to the ICC and qualify for the World Cup 2015.”

In her immediate past role as GM, Barbara managed 16 staff, 40 volunteers, and a $1 million dollar (USD) budget. She oversaw events, player relations, stakeholder relations, international governance, media, fundraising, sponsorship, and team operations. Barbara was responsible for providing operational leadership and strategic direction, while also spearheading the development of the women’s cricket program and professionalizing the sport.

In her current role as a Consultant for the International Rugby Board, Barbara is conducting reviews on Associated Member Unions and working with them on their governance and administration and strategic planning development. The countries covered include the East Africa countries as well as Ethiopia, Ghana and Lesotho. A special emphasis being given to develop the women’s game.

“Through this program, I want to gain insights into how to run a successful, profitable, and sustainable sporting organization. I want to learn how to successfully integrate females into the overall league structure, both on the field and in administrative positions. And I want to increase the number of girls who are participating in the sport and to raise up a new generation of role models for the girls of Kenya.”

As an Emerging Leader in the GSMP, Barbara hopes to improve her management skills, develop player and training pathways for female athletes and administrators, create a year-round competition schedule, promote branding and merchandising, and negotiate sponsorships and television contracts. We believe Lori LeBas and her team at ESPN are the right fit to help Barbara achieve her goals.

At ESPN, Lori oversees the sales and marketing department and handles business operations for television contracts, advertisements, distribution, and licensing. Lori’s team interacts with almost every department at ESPN and generates nearly 100% of the revenue that drives the business. We believe Barbara will benefit greatly from a managerial and operations perspective as well as learning about generating revenue, licensing products, and establishing television contracts. We look forward to the ways these top-level executives team up to create more opportunities for women and girls of Kenya to pursue their sports dreams.

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