Sincere letter to President Kenyatta over CHAN rights

Dear Mr President

It is with much respect that I write to you this letter, which comes at a crucial time that Kenya is almost losing rights to host Africa's second biggest football showpiece, the Africa Nations Championships.

No doubt Mr President, the country has been gripped with political fever, but CHAN 2018 is equally important. Football is the most popular sport in Kenya and it directly involves every youth, woman and man in one way or the other.

Football is a common subject in every social place, offices and homesteads. It is actually bigger than politics for it has been used to bring together warring communities or military around the world.

Confederation of African Football (CAF) awarded Kenya the 2018 rights after a lot of consideration; after we bungled the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations, which was handed to South Africa. Kenya was fined and disqualified from the edition.

It appears we have come full circle and are on the verge of letting Africa down, again.

Mr President, despite your Government's assurance through the Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts, the manner in which preparations have been handled is disturbing and a blight to the aspirations of the youth.

Kasarani Stadium, the biggest venue in Kenya, is nowhere near ready to host CHAN. It leaves a bitter taste in the psyche of everyone, given in your 2012 manifesto, you promised us five new world class stadiums.

Yet, Mr President, not even an iota of your promise has been tackled. Meru and Uasin Gishu counties have half-heartedly embarked on token attempts to upgrade their existing stadiums.

Kinoru Stadium in Meru is about 60 per cent complete. Eldoret Kipchoge Keino Stadium is a total disaster. Nyayo Stadium is far from being completed as two new locker rooms for players are needed.

Sports and football fraternity in particular is in a dilemma at this point and nothing short of your immediate intervention will rescue the situation.

CAF inspectors, who have been in the country for the past one week, have gone back hugely disappointed wondering if indeed, your Government is committed to hosting the Championships. The role of the Government in developing sports infrastructure cannot be gainsaid.

I covered the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon in January. Although Gabon was divided after the disputed national elections, football calmed down matters and suddenly the opposing sides found themselves seated together watching the matches.

That is how important football is. Ivory Coast, which has witnessed political turmoil in recent years are waiting on the wings to take up the CHAN 2018 rights, should Kenya fail to impress CAF.

Government and corporate companies should join hands and channel resources in ensuring we host the championships.

Mr President, you have to move with speed and save the situation as the CAF inspectors prepare to return on August 20. With elections coming up on August 8, the time to act is now for you may or may not come back.

How would you like the football family to remember you? It is all in your hands.

Finally Mr President, you have to look at the Sports Ministry. It needs fresh blood to bring up new ideas. The manner in which they have handled sports issues leaves a lot be desired. Over to you Sir.

Regards, Collins Okinyo

Football Journalist

 

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