Government should pay keen attention to sports

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019 00:00 |
Hellen Obiri savours the moment after winning gold in the women’s 5,000m at Khalifa Stadium in Doha. Photo/AFP

Kenya’s exemplary performance at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar has once again demonstrated how sports continues to uphold the nation’s image on the global stage.

Indeed, our sports heroes are the most enduring ambassadors of the Kenyan flag. The young men and women who scorch the track and road races have for long infused patriotism in a nation where unity has proved elusive. 

Timothy Cheruiyot’s spectacular feat on Sunday completed the Doha exploits when he won the 1500m to propel Kenya to the second position in the medals table, behind the US. Kenya bagged 11 medals, including five golds, two silvers and four bronze.

Congratulations are in order to the other gold medalists—Helen Obiri, Conselsus Kipruto, Ruth Chepngetich, Beatrice Chepkoech, silver medalists Margaret Kipkemboi and Faith Kipkemboi, bronze medalists Ferguson Rotich, Rhonex Kipruto, Amos Kipruto and Agnes Tirop—for doing Kenya proud.

The gallant performance by these heroes not only deserves commendation for flying Kenya’s flag higher, but also for contributing to a sense of unity and cohesion.

Their brilliance and fortitude against many odds behove the government to take sports more seriously as a unifying factor and an avenue for development, especially for the young people who are reeling under the crisis of unemployment.

Both the National and County governments should invest more in sports development. The state of sports facilities throughout the country is lamentable. 

It is a shame that despite the remarkable performances by sports heroes on the global arena, the country currently has only one internationally-recognised stadium—Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani. Renovations at Nyayo Stadium are still incomplete, several years down the line.

Lack of facilities has cost the country hosting rights for many major international events. It is now time the government fast-tracked the development of sports from the national level to the grassroots.

The National Sports Fund, established under the Sports Act 2013, should be more pro-active in fulfilling its mandate of raising funds to facilitate growth and development of the sports industry in the country.

The funds should be used to train sports personnel and support a cash award scheme to enhance competitiveness among sportsmen and women, such as the Doha stars and other sports disciplines such as football, rugby, volleyball and basketball.

It is fundamental that the government recognises the role of sports in the country’s development, promotion of national cohesion, the illustrious portrayal of our image internationally and its huge potential for the creation of income opportunities for the youth.

Earlier this year, President Uhuru Kenyatta challenged the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund oversight board chaired by former Vice-President Moody Awori to utilise resources at its disposal to restore the country’s sporting glory, promote the arts and preserve the rich national heritage.

He urged the board to revive sports and arts in the country by motivating the young people through adequate resourcing. The board should be at the forefront of building strong national sporting teams by providing them with all the support they need.

Through the Fund, Kenya’s sportspeople will not only enhance the country’s image abroad, but they will also benefit from the sweat of their sterling efforts.

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