Let's streamline sports and put in more resources

Kamkunji High school’s Goalkeeper Jane Wangui saves the ball in their match against Dagoreti Mixed during the Nairobi Region Secondary Schools Football Championship on August 27, 2022. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

There is no doubt that the sports industry is waiting with bated breath for the incoming administration, especially after the lofty promises made during the campaigns.

From Coast to Turkana, Busia to Garissa; Kenyan sports lovers have placed a lot of hopes on the new government. They expect a reign that would stir latent talents at the grassroots, anchor accountability in sports management, enhance Kenya’s status as the world’s sports hub and make sports a well-paying career.

Campaign manifestos gave sports enthusiasts a lot hope. This is because Kenya Kwanza and Azimio La Umoja made a number of promises to the industry in their election blueprints.

We hope the new government will honour its beautiful campaign manifestos. Kenya Kwanza promised myriad changes in sports within 100 days. They pledged a high-level expert task force to identify sustainable sources of sports funding, with the consideration of a national lottery, tax incentives for corporate sponsorship, a dedicated or ring-fenced tax, and a public-private partnership structure for infrastructure development.

They also promised a devoted function within the tourism promotion sector to appeal to international sporting events as well as improve the sports kitty. This team committed to leverage the country’s international athletics brand, develop a domestic sports attire manufacturing cluster and build a garment industry.

This is practical given the capacity Eldoret’s Rivatex company can produce. It is time Kenyan sportswear are designed locally to eliminate foreign dependency on apparels like Adidas, Nike and Puma. Rivatex, the largest vertically integrated textile mill in East Africa, can manufacture Kenyan sports products and market them globally.

Azimio La Umoja also promised to change the tide on sports funding. They pledged to work with bodies of non-Olympic sports to prioritise their long-term success and foster talent development in schools. 

Azimio La Umoja manifesto also promised to improve standards and management in the sector by improving sports management, enhancing transparency and accountability as well as improving coaching standards. If this is realised, it would un-clock sports from the corruption chains.

This is an industry capable of growing the economy. During the Covid-19 crisis, for example, athletics lost more than Sh6 billion in shoe contracts, appearance fees, prize money and other undisclosed endorsements. 

We hope the incoming government will instill professionalism in sports management. The new administration must nurture and maintain local talent through investing well in the industry.