By Gilbert Wandera
The new Sports Bill that was passed by Parliament yesterday evening promises to revolutionise sports in the country.The document gives immense powers to the new Cabinet Secretary who will now be directly involved in the running of associations.
Officials of sports associations can, however, breathe of sigh of relief as the Bill has deleted a clause that set term limits for them.
The Bill provides that officials will be eligible to be elected for a four-year term which is renewable and has no limit.
However, this is where celebrations by sports officials should end because the new Bill gives the Cabinet Secretary powers to form interim committees to run associations incase of mismanagement of the associations.
Such committees will, however, not be in place for a period of more than six months and this will likely put the Government on a collision course with international sports bodies like Fifa which do not condone government interference.
Furthermore, the Bill also gives the Cabinet Secretary authority to remove officials of associations without referring to the associations if he is convinced that the said officials are not working in the interest of local sports.
Another provision is a requirement by all sports associations to come up with a five-year development plan which should be submitted to the Cabinet Secretary.
Funding of sports is also expected to increase following the provision for a sports lottery under the national sports fund.
The Bill proposes to do away with the Sports Stadia Management Board whose functions will be taken over by the Kenya Sports Development Authority.
The Authority will assume an expanded role and will not just concern itself with management of sports facilities, but much more. This threatens to overshadow established associations like the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK).
Its functions will include the following: Promote, co-ordinate and implement grassroots, national and international sports programmes for Kenyans in liaison with the relevant sports organisations.
It will also facilitate the active participation of Kenyans in regional, continental and international sports, including in sports administration and appears to take over the role of NOCK in this regard.
It shall also adopt, develop, plan, set stadia standards and licence and regularly inspect stadia for sporting and recreational use, establish and maintain a sports museum, participate in the promotion of sports tourism;
It will also concern itself with identification of talent. Associations wishing to hire foreigners to work in Kenya will also have to go through this authority to receive work permits for the foreigners.
The authority will be run by a board which shall consist of nine persons headed by a Director General.
The board will be appointed for a term of three years and will be eligible to be elected for a further term of three years only.
The authority will be funded through various sources among them Parliament, prescribed fees, national sports fund, investment as well as gifts and other sources.