Counties Key in sports development
Kenya has few celebrated sports personalities who have given back to society. Some have by supporting and sponsoring sporting activities.
For a long time, sport in Kenya has been taken as a mere part-time activity.
We have failed to realise that globally, sport has actually grown into a multi-billion industry employing a large population of the youth, both skilled and unskilled.
More people should come on board to support and sponsor the youth in the sporting events they excel in, thus giving them more opportunities to showcase their talents.
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National and county governments should emulate these sports personalities and do something about sporting activities in the country and counties.
Counties like Nairobi have managed to include some of the best known sports personalities, led by the CEC for sports, Janet Muthoni.
Others include the longest serving former Harambee stars player and captain Musa Otieno, Dennis Oliech, former Kenya international Hashim Kamau, Gor Mahia’s organising secretary, Judith Nyangi, and former nominated county representative from Jericho, Leah Mumo, as members of the national county sports board.
Other counties should include celebrated sports personalities whether known in their counties, country or globally, to be their ambassadors in various sporting events.
Allan Wanga leads the sports docket in Kakamega County and Taita Taveta County has an elected FKF official, Bigvae Mwaelemi, heading that department.
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Meru recently appointed FKF NEC member Mureithi Nabea, Douglas Wakihuri and Joseph Kinyua members of the Meru Sports Council.
Machakos County Governor Alfred Mutua did a good job in his first term in office building a stadium that has held international matches.
There is, however, room for improvement in the stadium.
Apart from Kisii County building a stadium capable of hosting KPL matches, other counties are a disappointment.
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A few counties have appointed people without knowledge of sports to lead the important docket, making it difficult for such counties to excel in any sporting discipline.
Nothing is happening in Kisumu despite the current governor promising to remove the heap of gabbage next to the stadium and to start working on the stadium itself.
The stadium, which in December 2017 hosted the semifinals of the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup, has remained desolate as it plays host to top Kenyan Premier League matches.
Former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto had rolled out the construction of a decent stadium, but the project that has stalled, thanks to local politics.
It has now become a grazing field with no hope of living up to its initial purpose.
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In Mombasa, however, Governor Joho has been working closely with the FKF South Coast leadership led by the chairman, Gabriel Mghendi.
He took sports seriously in his first term by adding more stadiums and is today still working on more sports facilities.
Nairobi County Governor Mike Sonko seems to be the latest sports enthusiast. The Nairobi City County government is building four state-of-the-art FIFA standard afro turf stadiums in four sub counties - Dandora, Kangemi, Dagoretti and Woodley - where work is already going on as scheduled.
These grounds, once completed, will be better than the local stadiums that we are used to.
Just a few months ago, Malindi Town MP Aisha Jumwa, through the local FKF leadership, donated a bus to be used by the teams participating in various FKF leagues within the constituency, hence easing the transport budget for teams in Malindi town.
How we wish President Uhuru Kenyatta would include sports and talent development as the fifth big agenda in his vision for the youth of his country! This would be a major boost to the sports fraternity.
The national government should also increase allocation to the counties, specifically for sports development, especially to those that seem to be enthusiastic about sports development.
Further, the Sports Fund, which was borne out of the taxation wars that affected betting and lottery firms, should be structured in a way that the intended beneficiaries have a taste of it.
There also needs to be goodwill from political leaders to see to it that not only does sports infrastructure form part of the Government’s development agenda, but sports personalities are generously remunerated to spur continuity in the industry.
Mr Okaka is Football Kenya Federation’s communication officer.
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KenyaCountiesJanet MuthonKenya international Hashim KamauMachakos County Governor Alfred MutuaKisii CountyGovernor JohoMombasaFKF leagues