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Economic benefits of sports in Kenya have not been fully tapped

Opinion
 Athletes compete during Sirikwa Classic World Cross Country event at Lobo village, Eldoret, on February 3, 2024. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Sports is a universally adored activity that captivates people across the globe.

The immense power of sports, its worldwide influence, its ability to connect people from all walks of life, and its positive effects on communities, especially the youth, are widely acknowledged on a global scale.

Sports is a form of entertainment, and medals are a thing of the past. While sporting organisations’ main objective is to foster and expand their sport, sports also carries economic, social, and environmental obligations to the entire community.

Kenya’s remarkable achievement in producing world-class athletes can be credited to a combination of factors. First and foremost, athletes from Kenya often come from high-altitude regions, which can result in physiological changes that improve cardiovascular performance.

In addition, numerous Kenyan athletes hail from rural areas and have a rich heritage of running, both as a mode of transportation and as a sport. Early exposure to running often results in the development of a solid foundation of endurance and athleticism.

In addition, Kenya has a culture that highly regards and commemorates long-distance running, creating a nurturing atmosphere for aspiring athletes. Although training facilities and resources in Kenya may not always be as advanced as in other countries, the exceptional talent and unwavering dedication of Kenyan athletes have propelled them to achieve remarkable success on the global stage.

UN Resolution A/69/L.5, adopted by member States on October 16, 2014, “encourages member States to give sport due consideration in the context of the past 2015 sustainable development agenda” and recognises sports’ crucial role in promoting education, health, sustainable development and peace.

While the globe is now advancing toward global warming and environmental hazards, sport is the best platform to promote environmental sustainability.

Sportsmen are widely respected and admired, often more so than actors and politicians. Sportsmen leave a lasting impression on the minds of their fans. Doesn’t an athlete cycling all the way to the Olympic venue inspire people to take sustainable development seriously? When all the athletes unite to run for this cause, it truly makes a lasting impact. Athletes play a crucial role in inspiring and mobilising support for organizations, communities, and NGOs, both locally and globally.

Kenya is taking a moment to look back on a difficult year filled with political uncertainty, economic challenges, and increasing expenses for individuals and businesses. The agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing sectors are crucial for our country’s growth plans. However, there is another exciting opportunity for economic transformation that is often overlooked: Kenya’s sports industry.

Kenya boasts an impressive array of sporting talent, with renowned athletes like Eliud Kipchoge, Faith Kipyegon and Ferdinand Omanyala. However, it’s important to note that the economic benefits of sports in Kenya have not been fully tapped into. Collaboration between the public and private sectors in increasing sports investments could have a significant positive impact on Kenya’s youth and the country’s economy.

Sports do play an important part in many facets of social well-being. Sporting events attract visitors, encouraging sustainable tourism. Marathons, soccer tournaments, and cycling competitions attract tourists and boost local economies. Sports tourism may also promote environmental protection since outdoor activities need natural environments.

-Mr Flora is a veteran journalist based in Canada

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