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Ambitious Namwamba finally rolls out Talanta Hela Initiative

 Sports Technical Committee members after receiving their appointment letters from Sports CS Ababu Namwamba during the launch of Talanta Hela Initiative at Kasarani Stadium on Wednesday, February 15, 2023. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenya has a lofty dream which is to play in the 2030 Fifa World Cup.

The country is also gunning for a showpiece in the 2027 Fifa Women's World Cup.

Kenya equally has a great vision which is to play in the 2028 Women's Africa Cup of Nations as well as to host the men's version of the tournament, the Africa Cup of Nations, in the near future.

At the same time, the country is exploring ways to improve its medal haul at the 2024 Paris and 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games by adopting unique sports like Equestrian, break-dancing, softball and baseball.

These long-term dreams have pushed the State, through the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Sports and Arts, to come up with a road map to make it to the intended destinations.

The state wants to reach various locations by tapping and nurturing raw talents.

The path to identify and harness the raw talents, dubbed the Talanta Hela Initiative, had its various committees set up last week through a Gazette notice.

The committees, composed of the Council, the Sports and the Creatives, were yesterday unveiled in Nairobi at a ceremony that was presided over by the Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba.

The groups will work in tandem with other sectors of the government including the private sector and other interested parties to realise Kenya's dream of becoming a force to reckon with in high-profile international events.

The sports committee hit the road running after the launch yesterday as they have been tasked with the management of the annual Bottom Up U-19 football tournament to be played in ten regions across Kenya, encompassing the 47 Kenyan counties.

"The competition will kick off in the course of this month, the sports committee will come up with the competition schedule, fixtures and other related logistics," Namwamba told Standard Sports.

Namwamba said the government will fully sponsor the competition but is also open to working with the private sector including various international embassies who have shown great interest to support the state to make the tournament great.

Namwamba said amazing talents churned out from the initiative who are not lucky to proceed for professional stints abroad will be absorbed by their various federations locally.

The CS has assured that every penny intended for the talent search program will be properly accounted for.

"The various members of the Talanta Hela Initiative committees have been picked purely on merit, I'm trusting that they will be accountable to every resource that is entrusted to them," Namwamba said.

Namwamba explained the mission of Talanta Hela Initiative is to monetise Kenyan talents.

"We want to take the Sports and the Creative beyond entertainment, it's about time to commercialise our talents.

"We want real income and real revenues for our talents, this will in turn contribute greatly to our GDP.

"It's not an accident that Morocco reached the Fifa World Cup semis in Qatar, they were very deliberate, they were intentional on their path to growth and development towards that position," said Namwamba.

Namwamba said he is very optimistic that Harambee Starlets will play in the Fifa World Cup before the men's national team Harambee Stars.

He said they are starting off the Talanta Hela Initiative with the U-19 football first this year before introducing other disciplines like rugby, hockey, cricket, basketball etc next season.

In her acceptance speech, Sports Technical Committee chairperson Carol Radull gave an assurance that her contingent will be beyond reproach in their duty to improve the quality of games in the country.

"I believe I have a team that is ready to get the job done," the seasoned sports journalist said.

"An effective sports industry will definitely create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

"When sports is run well, there is legitimate money for everyone," Radull added.

While assuring to improve the quality of sports in Kenya, Radull said there is a need to fuse games with entertainment to attract crowds during competitions.

Others who graced the Talanta Hela Initiative committee's unveiling included Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang, State Department for Youth Affairs PS Ismail Maalim, Sports and Arts PS Jonathan Mueke, Creatives Technical Committee Chairperson Daniel Ndambuki among others.

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