Kenyans must build on gains made in sports

You don't have to be a sports journalist, veteran or otherwise, or even a sports fan to recognise the fact that things are looking up for sports in Kenya.

Of course, there are those who will be quick to say that this is because of the Government's big investment in sports. Au contraire, Kenya's sports men and women, or athletes in general, have been thriving despite the parental authority's incessant acts of omission, which only pull them down.

For the past six or so months, there have been positive developments in Kenyan sports and even those disciplines that had been written off are now showing some promise.

For several years, even ardent football fans had given up hope on Kenyan football and were investing their energies in it just for show – or conversation's sake.

However, there is hope and many people are starting to have faith and belief that sooner or later, if more is done and people do not rest on their laurels, something worth writing home about can come out of Kenyan football.

At the beginning of the year, the betting firm, SportPesa, kept its promise and made it possible for a selected Kenyan side to not only play against an English Premier League side, but also see the kind of facilities that other footballers make use of.

The trip to Hull City was an eye-opener for Kenya's colourless national coach and his technical bench - and officials of Kenyan Premier League - for they got to see and understand why Kenyan football in general and Harambee Stars in particular, do not put the ball past goalkeepers.

By any standards, that was a positive development and it can only be hoped that whatever lessons they learnt during that trip will be used to improve different aspects of Kenyan football at all levels.

A few days ago, the betting firm again pulled off a first and what started as a low-key tournament pitting clubs from Kenya and Tanzania against each other, culminated in Gor Mahia playing against EPL's Everton side, going toe-to-toe with some of Europe's best players.

Whether you are a fan of the Green Army or not, you have to admit that they gave a good account of themselves!

Football aside, two weeks ago, Kenya's Under-19 boys' cricket team qualified for the Under-19 World Cup by bowling out of competition the likes of Botswana, Ghana, and Uganda. A minor feat, you can say, because Kenya has been ahead of the pack, but in January and February in New Zealand, these young men will be playing against some of the best cricketing nations in the world.

Even though the Sevens Rugby team did not have a good season, the 15s rugby side has been proving itself in the Africa Gold Cup and in two successive weekends, the burly men have shown Tunisia and Senegal that they are no pushovers.

The icing on Kenya's sporting cake has to be the IAAF World Under-18 Championships, which ended on Sunday at Kasarani. Kenya's medal haul was impressive and the young men and women have to be lauded for their sterling performances on home soil.

All these achievements and milestones, some of which I have not mentioned, point to a very good future and are a manifestation that this year has been good for Kenyan sports.

However, the milestones will mean nothing if they are taken as the ultimate, the end, and the last chapter as far as achievements in sports in Kenya are concerned. It will be unwise to let all this go to waste and wrong for Kenyan administrators to rest on their laurels.

Thus, for the future to be brighter, Kenyans have to work harder, together, and build on these gains that have so far been made.

The writer is an editor with The Standard, Weekend Editions

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