Tough year for school games

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020 22:51 |
Churchil Odhiambo of Dagoretti High (right) dribbles past Abdul Kihagu of Lasier Hill during the finals of boys basketball competition in 2019. Laiser won 69-52. Photo/PD/RODGERS NDEGWA

Kenya was set to make her debut at the World School Games scheduled for October 17 to 24 this year in Jinjiang, China but will have to wait longer as the Covid-19 outbreak halted the games.

In an International Schools Federation (ISF) General Assembly held in Serbia in March, Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) was allocated two slots, a boys’ basketball team and five participants in athletics, at the games that were to have students compete in more than 22 disciplines.

With the games restricted to participants under the age of 18, the pandemic is likely to have robbed a generation of high school athletes a chance to feature in a global competition.

Before the term one school games were suspended, KSSSA was meant to make a decision on whether to field the 2019 winners at the world games or to go for those that would have been crowned champions in term one games.

“ A decision on whether the 2020 World games will be held in 2021 or skipped all together and have member associations prepare for the next edition which was supposed to be held in 2022 is yet to be made.

With the age cap being 18, there are some of our students who would have featured this year who will not be eligible to play next year.

However, that is a conversation that the ISF is yet to have,” said KSSSA secretary general David Ngugi who was, in March, elected in the ISF executive committee.

Kenya has not taken part in the biennial championship since its inception in 1974 owing to lack of sponsorship.

However, for the 2020 edition, China had pledged to cater for accommodation and 80 percent of all travel costs for African teams this handing Kenyan teams a lifeline to feature for the first time.

While this year’s calendar has been largely affected by the closure of schools, there is still uncertainty as far is the next calendar is concerned.

“When schools open in January, KSSSA will hold consultative meetings with the ministries of health and education to chart a way forward for our games. As at now, no decisions have been made,” added Ngugi.

This year’s edition of KSSSA term one games, which include basketball, handball, hockey, rugby 7’s and 15’s, racquet games, swimming as well as athletics were put on hold on March 13 when Kenya recorded her first Covid-19 positive case.

At the time, action was still at the county level with an exception of Nairobi region where teams had began hunting for slots to the national games.

This year’s national and East Africa games were tentatively scheduled to take place at the Mpesa Academy and Western region respectively.

Kenya was hoping to use home advantage to wrestle the overall title from Uganda who had snatched it at the 2019 East Africa School games held in Arusha, Tanzania.

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