The tough questions awaiting Ababu Namwamba ahead of Friday's 2:30pm interview

The Assumption of the Office of President Committee member Ababu Namwamba at Harambee House in Nairobi on August 6th, 2022 on the Preparation of the swearing in of the President Elect William Ruto[Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Kenyan sports fraternity will be watching closely on Friday afternoon when the new Sports and Youth Affairs Cabinet Secretary nominee Ababu Namwamba appears before the National Assembly Committee on Appointments for vetting.

Namwamba was among the 21 Cabinet Secretaries named by President William Ruto as he unveiled his Cabinet at State House Namwamba is set to take over from the outgoing CS Amina Mohamed if his nomination is approved by Parliament.

The vetting of CS nominees has been going on since Monday and ends on Saturday.

While this will not be the first time Namwamba will be in charge of Sports, Kenyans are optimistic that he will fix the many problems afflicting Kenyan sports.

The former Budalangi MP makes a return to the sports docket having briefly served in the same capacity between 2012 and 2013.

From football, volleyball, rugby, cricket, athletics, chess and many more, many will keenly be watching how he deals with the crisis in the country.

However, Namwamba’s first big headache will be how he plans to tackle the challenges facing the two most popular sports in the country; athletics and football.

In football, Namwamba is highly likely to be questioned on the current big challenge facing Kenyan football, the FIFA ban.

The nation has been under Fifa suspension since February after outgoing CS Amina Mohamed disbanded the Football Kenya Federation in November last year.

In early November, Sports Minister Amina Mohamed set up a caretaker committee to run Kenyan football after an investigation revealed financial irregularities at the FKF.

FKF officials were soon locked out of their offices as the committee took over the running of Kenyan football, and Mwendwa stepped aside at the end of the month.

Now, Fifa is demanding Mohamed rescind her decision to appoint a caretaker committee - with the global body also requesting that control of the FKF offices be handed back to a federation now led by Mwendwa's vice-president, Doris Petra.

As a result, Harambee Stars and Harambee Starlets missed out on the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and the country’s referees were barred from taking part in any international competition.

The other hurdle in football is the financial challenges currently crippling not only local clubs but also national teams.

FKF Premier League clubs last season were forced to turn to the government for a financial boost after exhausting their coffers and are unable to fund their operations including paying staff salaries.

The situation was so worse that Mathare United which has been a talent hub for some of Kenya’s brightest footballers failed to honour three matches and therefore relegated to National Super League.

Other include improving the sports infrastructure, including the stalled and dilapidated Kipchoge Keino and Kamariny stadiums in Usain Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet counties which, incidentally, are not only located in President Ruto's backyard, but also in an area that has produced thousands of world beaters in the track and field.

Investing in developing talent, completion of stalled projects to proper funding to national teams, a full in-tray awaits the incoming CS. Having spearheaded the enactment of the 2013 Sports Act, Namwamba seems to be aware of what lies ahead of him.

Another head ace for Namwamba will be to step up the fight against doping which is affecting Athletics Kenya. Up to 25 elite Kenyan athletes have been suspended or banned from competing this year alone, raising fears among stakeholders that the vice was getting out of hand.

The big names who have been flagged down for various doping wrongdoings in recent times include the 2019 Chicago Marathon winner Lawrence Cherono, and Rotterdam Marathon champions Stella Barsosio as well as Lilian Kasait.

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