Spare the children’s playground or regret by 2050

By Anil Baraka

A new four-storey residential building is coming up in my neighbourhood and people are excited about it. The building, I hear, is already fully-booked, with potential tenants having paid a deposit of Sh10,000 to reserve the two and three-bedroom houses.

I am the only one in the neighbourhood, perhaps, who is not excited about the massive building that will earn the owner about Sh800,000 in rent every month. You see, the edifice stands on a piece of land once used by children as a playing ground, and how the owner acquired it remains a mystery that no one wants to unravel.

Now, the children are displaced. They have nowhere to sharpen their kati, football and volleyball skills. All they do is hang around the corridors of their parents’ houses whiling away time. The brave ones run on the road while those whose parents have means, spend most of the day on PlayStations and video games. Imagine! These scenarios are replicated in many Nairobi estates and towns across Kenya, including in Kisumu and Kakamega, where real estate is the in-thing.

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My concern is why are houses taking every space our children used as playground? Yet the Government is quiet. The implication of this is that Kenya might not have a national football or athletics team in 2050.

Normally, children start to display their skills at a tender age. They will showcase their dribbling, rugby or marathon race skills as they play in fields at home.

The talents are further honed in schools, where they get a chance to participate in tournaments and win titles that boost their morale.

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But all this is slowly being taken away. At home, the fields are shrinking and at schools, institutions have no playgrounds, especially private schools that focus on academics. This means children are not engaging in any sports. It is just a matter of time before we turn all our children into couch potatoes as we fill pockets of a few. Come 2050, we shall have no talented players for Harambee Stars, marathon races, rugby and volleyball teams.

Anyway, perhaps this does not concern authorities because we would be a rich oil-producing nation able to buy players from Somalia and South Sudan just the way Spain, France and Britain are currently doing.

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Again, we should not lose sleep about it since football, in its current form, perhaps by 2050 would have become extinct and what people would be doing is to compete in PlayStation games tournaments. In this case, we would have so many professional players.

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