Seeking to make Busia great again
A former boxer during his high school days in the late 1970s and now Chief Officer for Culture and Sports, Joe Maurice Odundo, has pledged to consolidate the fortunes that enabled Busia County register a mark in Kenyan sports in the 1980s.
Former Olympic gold medallist, the late Robert Napunyi Wangila who hailed from the county remains the only Kenyan boxer to win a gold medal at the global showpiece, a feat he attained in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea after stopping his French opponent Laurent Boudouani in the final of their welterweight contest.
Ardent sports lovers remember with nostalgia in mid 1980s when Busia United Sports Club nearly caused an upset in the semi-finals of the Moi Golden Cup before losing 2-1 to Gor Mahia who went ahead to clinch the Cup and represent the Kenya in the Africa Cup Winners Cup which they won after beating Esperance of Tunisia in the final.
Added to that, many soccer stars including Victor Wanyama, MacDonald Mariga, Dr JJ Masiga, Wilberforce Mulamba, Noah Wanyama and Patrick “Amin” Omuse come from Busia County to confirm that the county has potential talents which only needs tapping.
Odundo who moved to the department from Lands is convinced that with injection of more funding to the department, which has now a substantive County Executive Committee Member, Janet Manyasi, they are good to go in realising the dreams of turning the fortunes of the county in the sports arena.
To set the ball rolling, the Chief Officer said top on the agenda is to relocate the Busia County Stadium to the outskirts of the Busia Central Business District, noting that the initial task is to purchase land in Bugengi or Mundika before lobbying for funds from the National Government to construct a modern stadium as is the norm in other counties across the country.
“Before that dream is realized, the stadium will undergo repairs to enable sportsmen and women utilize it when sports activities resume after the containment of Coronavirus pandemic,” he said, adding that his department will also work on modalities to acquire access road to Malaba Stadium before they embark on modernizing it to match international standards.
He said the department with seven directorates including sports, culture, youth, children, alcoholic drinks, gender and social services needs more allocation than the current Sh113m given many demands including the purchase of a mini bus for the department.
Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong has encouraged sportsmen and women in the county to view sports as investment activities other than entertainment. His administration has funded teams to various games including KYISA, KICOSCA and EALASCA.