Covid blow to school games

Thursday, January 7th, 2021 00:00 |
Ofafa Jericho’s Onesmus Ochieng charges into Strathmore’s Nelson Muyodi during a past Nairobi County School Games. Photo/PD/EDWIN OTIENO

Lynette Matheka

Coaches, students and the organisers of school games, Kenya Secondary School Sports Association (KSSSA), will have to wait longer for return to action after President Uhuru Kenyatta in his latest address suspended extra curricular activities even as schools reopened on Monday.

KSSSA was the first casualty on March 13, 2020 when Kenya confirmed her first Covid -19 positive case and with it, all sporting activities had to suspended before schools were closed three days later. At the time, term one games were at the county level of competition.

With the continued suspension of extra curricular activities, student athletes will have lost a year of their sporting program. With that, all the form four students set to clear school in April have been adversely affected.

Coach Justin Kigwari, who has been credited for the success that Kwanthanze have enjoyed in girls’ volleyball scene says that the year lost will have a huge impact on youth development if mitigation measures will not be taken.

While the current form four students will leave school without any meaningful competition that helps expose their talents and help their transition to club and university competitions, Kigwari belives that the effects will be felt by the form three players too.

“This has had a huge impact on our players. For starters, it will take a lot of convincing for clubs to sign these players as would have been the norm had they been active in 2020.

They are not prepared both mentally and in terms of skills, after such a long layoff, to transition.

Additionally, the players currently in form three will have little time for the game as they will be playing catch up with the curriculum.

This means we could easily have a two-year gap in our club feeder programs as well as junior national teams,” said Kigwari who has four players in their final year and a bulk of the team in their third year.

He added: “As such, the pressure will be on the youngsters currently in their first and second years of high school to step up.

To ensure that there will be a continuous flow of players from the junior to senior level, there will be a need for programs designed to engage these players beyond the school setting and in bulk so as to have a larger pool to choose from.”

His St Antony Boys counter part Kevin Lugalia, who is also attached to national league hockey side Western Jaguars and is also part of the national Under 20 side technical bench, echoed his sentiments on the potential of a there being a gap in transitioning due to the suspension of sporting activities.

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