By Punch Chama
There has been a lot said about the recent signing of 33 year old Japanese midfielder Kosuke Nakamachi by Zambian defending Champions Zesco United.
Most have said that at 33 Years old he is past his prime with some indicating that he must be in Zambia eyeing something else but Nakamachi’s arrival on the Zambian football scene is a potential Gamechanger not only for Zesco United but Zambian football.
Nakamachi is the first ever player from Japan’s highest ever professional league of the J-League to transfer from that league to an African league which says a lot about the feat Zesco have just achieved.
The fact that Nakamachi is coming from Yokahama F Marinos is a very big deal because the Marinos are the second most successful club in Japan and also among the most supported.
Many maybe looking at Nakamachi’s on field performance but miss a huge and important part and that is the commercial aspect of the deal.
If Zesco work it right they could be reaping huge financial rewards from this deal because Nakamachi is a huge name in Japan having featured for Marinos from 2012 to date and many Japanese football fans know him and follow him with Statistics in Japan showing that there are around 10 Million J League fans and Zesco United could think of ways to buy into them.
European clubs do this all the time by signing Asian players and having friendlies in Asia to buy into the market over there.
The J league itself has also used this strategy to get more coverage outside Japan and developed an app which has resulted in a 10 year sponsorship worth $2 Billion.
While the Zambian Football Market may still be too young for a lot of Ideas one concept tat has been there in Zambia over the last 10 years is replica sales with Zesco United already accustomed to selling replicas with them managing 4,000 a season for the domestic market and its easy to see how Zesco United can even target selling 10,000 replica’s to Japan over time which can earn the club an extra K4.5 Million ( $450,000) every season season.
No one said its easy but Zesco United have a golden opportunity and if they handle it right and take time to understand the Japanese football market they can achieve it otherwise Nakamachi will come and go without Zesco realizing the worth they have in their hands.