Fulfill pledge on stadia, then set up academies

President William Ruto chats with Sports CS Ababu Namwamba and Football Kenya Federation President Nick Mwendwa during the unveiling of the East African Community Pamoja bid for the African Cup of Nations 2027 at State House, Nairobi. [PCS]

The State Department of Sports and Arts has good plans-it wants to use proceeds from Talanta Hela to establish sports academies in all the 47 counties. The move, if actualised, would be a big shot in the arm of Kenyan sports industry.

Talanta Hela, which was started by the government to develop and monetise talent across the country, will rely on stadia. Sports Principal Secretary Jonathan Mueke says after the establishment of sports academies, the ministry will scout for talents and monetise it as a job creation strategy.

That will help to alleviate poverty and divert youths from alcoholism, drug abuse and criminal activities.

However, although well-intentioned, many Kenyans will take the PS's promise with a pinch of salt, if they recall the promise to build nine stadiums by former President Uhuru Kenyatta's administration, in which the current president was second in command.

That promise remains unfulfilled more than ten years after it was made. Even after billions of taxpayers' money was sunk into the stadium projects, there is little to show for it.

For example, in North Rift-Elgeyo Marakwet, Nandi and Uasin Gishu -billed as the Mecca of world athletics, there is no usable stadium despite the huge athletics talent in the region. Rising cases of athletes being hit by motorists while training on the roads raises concern.

The first priority therefore should be for the Kenya Kwanza Government to build/finish the stadiums that were promised by the Jubilee Government before embarking on the more ambitious, and costlier, plan to set sports academies.

Before that, the government should establish whether the money set aside for the construction the stadiums by Jubilee was spent wisely.

All said and done, we are on the right track to making Kenya a formidable sports house. Building more stadiums and academies will, no doubt, propel us to greater heights.