Thanks Where Thanks Are Due: Sports Logistics

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December 2, 2013

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As the solid gold FIFA trophy touched down in Kenya, some of us reveled in the honor of being closer to the FIFA trophy than ever before, whiles some of us wondered how much we could make from melting a heavily guarded little golden cup.

Kenya’s passion for watching live sport to support a specific team is legendary, with everyone wanting to state that they personally saw the goal that secured Gor Mahia as league champions in 2013.

Foreign sporting events fare much better here, with the English Premier League being the source of animated conflict among friends over which team deserves the championship more. While I would like to remain neutral in this matter, I do have an arsenal of reasons for supporting one specific team, which I shall leave you to guess as I ask my next question: what goes into the logistics of putting together a successful sporting event?

Supply chain management for sporting events starts long before the public is made aware that they are in for a treat. To successfully host players, spectators, vendors, and the like, conceptual consulting is key. This involves laying out budgets, laying out comprehensive blueprints for cooperation with key stakeholders; ensuring current infrastructure can support all necessary functions among other strategic considerations. This function usually cannot be handled internally by the organizing committee, necessitating hiring a logistics firm to advice on the same.

Proceeding with executing the event, it is necessary to transport sporting equipment to the venue in good time. This requires careful scheduling to ensure equipment arrives well enough before commencement to allow time to stage the venue, but not so early that equipment is exposed to harm by weather, natural wear and tear or human error and incompetence.

Logistics firms are usually commissioned for a to and fro package, meaning it can be their responsibility to get the equipment after the match and ensure its safe return. Where needed, supply chain managers may have to make provisions for warehousing such equipment, either to protect it or due to timing conflicts, such as where cargo arrives far too early to be set up or needs protecting in the interim. Logistics companies offering a thorough experience may also be entrusted with ensuring players find their way to the event as planned.

Depending on the nature of the sporting event, it may be necessary to organize for vehicles to fetch local players from their homes, or be more involving in requiring scheduling international flights, passports, and accommodations. In this way the human “cargo” becomes the responsibility of the supply chain manager, and may require security services while in the country, depending on net worth and fame.

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Coordinating logistics for a sporting event presents unique challenges that require unique solutions. Often very tight delivery schedules are required, with several varied individuals and companies involved in providing pertinent goods and services, all needing to be synchronized to an effective rhythm. Time sensitive deliveries include such things as food or merchandise. One day late with delivery and fans may no longer be there or interested in purchasing commemorative t-shirts or flags.

One day late and the stadium could go without food for spectators, ruining an otherwise acceptable experience. A day early and the same food will be stale and unappreciated by patrons. Forecasting comes into play here with skills of supply chain managers being put to serious test. Tight event security may also pose a threat to delivery of logistics services.

In a bid to protect the country and inhabitants from terrorist or militia attacks, it has become commonplace for individuals and vehicles to be searched before entry into such crowded public areas, leading to delays that both disgruntle spectators and can cause a backlog of logistics duties. It is also necessary to have a reasonable flow of food and supplies into the venue and removal of waste.

Creativity and a willingness to work outside the box comes in handy here, as supply chain managers may be forced to carry out these functions at night, without the added distraction of spectators milling around the venue. This ensures that supply chain managers neither interrupts nor is interrupted by the hustle and bustle of those with normal work schedules.

It is clear that the logistics industry and functions do well to ensure the Kenyan hunger for a sporting experience is quenched, if not at least sated until the next sporting event.

Whenever you venture out to enjoy a sporting event, take a good look around: some of the unsung heroes of this event may hug the shadows but we are usually easy to identify, and thank for helping host an enjoyable event for all.


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