Honour Angella Okutoyi with adequate sports facilities

Tennis player Angella Okutoyi celebrates after winning a Gold for Kenya at the African Games in Ghana. [Courtesy, Radull X]

Kenyan tennis sensation Angella Okutoyi’s triumph at the 13th African Games in Ghana two days ago, was the hallmark of an arduous journey to stardom.

Her exploits in tennis, a discipline Kenya is hardly known for, speak volumes on the abundance of latent talents in the country. She has made history and put Kenya on the global map, since coming onto the big stage. 

It is unbelievable that just last December, she told Olympics.com thus: “Growing up, I remember there were times we didn’t eat, and the only meal would be just a cup of water and we would survive. That’s why I’m fearless, and I am strong.”

After conquering the continent on Thursday, Kenyan tennis fans were all over social media lavishing her with praises. They hailed her as one of Kenya’s greatest tennis players. 

Kenyan leaders also congratulated the tennis queen, with Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba and his Roads and Transport counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen among the first state officials to applaud Okutoyi for her heroics.

Okutoyi, 20, like other young talents, overcame adversities including inadequate food, training facilities and financial support in her gritty rise to the pinnacle. Before clinching the African Games title, Okutoyi teamed up with Dutch player Rose Marie Nijkamp to take the Wimbledon girls’ doubles title in a historic feat.

From living in an orphanage in Nairobi to struggling with her grandmother in a one-roomed house, Okutoyi and her twin sister Roselida Asumwa, struggled with basic necessities.

They overcame the dark early memories and Okutoyi will be flying the Kenyan flag at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Her story exemplifies that of thousands of Kenyan talents struggling with numerous hurdles on their journey to the big stage.

Leaders who have celebrated the success of Kenyan stars have often buried their heads in the sand when the loud calls for establishment of modern facilities intensify. When will the Ministry of Sports and its agencies make available modern training facilities across the country even in remote villages of Turkana, Mandera, Marsabit, Lamu, Isiolo, West Pokot and Samburu among others?

Okutoyi has inspired millions of children to focus on their talent and remain relentless. A responsible government should have started a plan to build tennis courts in areas accessible to poor children – those struggling with food, clothes and shelter. 

Through Okutoyi’s success, a child of the poor can venture into disciplines perceived to be reserved for the elite, such as golf. The best way to honour Okutoyi’s achievement is to set up adequate sports facilities across the country.

The same way top officials cheer our champions’ success during global contests, they should work together and establish modern sports facilities.

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