Athletics Kenya’s maiden visit to North Eastern

Monday, July 6th, 2020 00:00 |
Athletics Kenya vice-president Paul Mutwii (right) addressing athletes at a World Under-20 Championships camp at the North Eastern National Polytechnic in Garissa at the weekend. Photo/PD/AMOS ABUGA

When Athletics Kenya (AK) top officials visited North Eastern region to distribute cash and food to World Under-20 Championships probables over the weekend, it marked the last stop of the 20 camps that had been earmarked to benefit from the stimulus.

What many did not know is that the occasion was of great significance to the region faced with a lot of challenges.

AK officials were visiting the region for the first time since the association came into existence nearly half a century ago.

The programme targeted 1,500 athletes who received foodstuff worth Sh3,000 each and similar amounts of cash to cushion them during the Covid-19 period.

The stimulus package is money that was meant for a planned camp in April to prepare the athletes for the World Under-20 Championships that was initially slated for July 7 to 12 but had to be postponed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Regional chairman Abdulahi Salat could not hide his excitement, saying despite the many challenges experienced in the region, the visit was an indication that there were more to come.

“Today is a huge milestone for us. We shall not focus on how long it has taken for the top office to pay us a visit, instead we are appreciating the fact that they are here today.

I think we can sell a different narrative that the region is more than chaos, harsh climate conditions and even the pastoral life,” Salat said at the North Eastern National Polytechnic Stadium.

He added: “I know there is abundant talent here. What needs to be done is better working relations with the national office, county government and even corporate entities. Through that a lot can be achieved and many more talents natured and exposed.”

Addressing a delegation from Riadha house led by AK senior vice president Paul Mutwii, chief administrative officer Susan Kamau and youth committee member Barnabas Kitilit, Salat said key among the urgent needs the region required was having a modern Athletics track to facilitate proper training.

“One thing I am certain of is that there is a lot of talent with us here. While most athletes prefer to train in the morning the conditions can be really challenging. As early as 6am we are approaching temperatures of about 36 degrees,” he said.

Mutwii admitted the visit, which had taken a while to happen will signify many more visits and partnership to make the region active.

“I think for starters there should be a way to ensure talented youth in sports can be offered scholarships to higher learning institutions like North Eastern National Polytechnic and Garissa University.

It is not going to happen in one day but that is something we hope to achieve in future,” said Mutwii who is also in charge of the competitions committee.

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