'I will call FIFA President to resolve football ban', Sports CS nominee Namwamba promises

Youth Affairs ,Sports & The Arts CS nominee Ababu Namwamba during the vetting session by the Committee on Appointments Chaired by the National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula at the county Hall,Nairobi . October 21st,2022 [Elvis Ogina,Standard] 

Sports and Youth Affairs Cabinet Secretary nominee Ababu Namwamba promised to get Kenya out of the current FIFA suspension if the National Assembly Committee on Appointments approves his nomination to the hot seat.

Speaking during the vetting process at Parliament Buildings on Friday, Namwamba said he will call the FIFA President himself on his first day to get Kenyan football back alive.
“In my first morning in office, I will call Fifa President Gianni Infantino to resolve the ban on Kenyan football,” said Namwamba.

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

Firmly responding to tough questions by the committee, Namwamba said he is familiar with the problems facing Kenyan sports.

“Having served in the Sports ministry between 2012 and 2013, I understand what is going on. Our football and Badminton federations have been banned. Doping is threatening to taint the image of Kenya. The pension scheme does not cover sportspeople in retirement,”said the CS nominee.

“We have rogue agents who are making our sports people suffer. If cleared I am determined to clean this mess. I will work with all stakeholders to turnaround Kenyan sports.”

Newly elected FIFA President Gianni Infantino attends a news conference during the 130th Annual General Meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), in Cardiff, Britain March 5, 2016. REUTERS

Ababu added he is ready to lend an ear in his first early days in office before making critical decisions.

“In the first 100 days, I want to listen to federations, sports fraternity, players to draw roadmap to return sports where it belongs,” he added.

The former Budalangi MP said he is going to re-engineer the formation of an all-round sports Kasarani Sports academy next to MISC Kasarani Stadium for maximization of the facility.

“We started the journey when I was the Sports Minister. The project has stalled. We have to elevate this academy to nurture talent,” he said

“Sporting academies are vital for the growth of any sports and it is evident around the globe with the likes of Mbappe and Rashford clear examples of the fruits of nurturing young talents through academies.

“I want to assure Kenyans that the dream of having the academy will be actualized and I will see through that we implement this project which we had 11 years ago be actualized,” said Namwamba."

On cleaning up sports federations Namwamba said they needed to sanction federations and individuals.

“I am familiar with one of the biggest challenges is financing sports. While I served as Sports minister we enacted the Sports Act. It is in this law that we provided for the establishment of the sports fund. After the law became operational, there was an amendment that spread the benefits of this fund. I would like to restructure this fund to its original purpose,” he said.

He added that there is need to develop community clubs at all levels.

“We should support these clubs by strengthening sponsorship and giving exposure. We must put money into our football,”he said.

“To empower young people to pursue sports as a formal engagement, we need to make it clear to sports federations that young people do not only exist to just serve their interests. The way they operate must be in a manner that serves the best interest of sports people.”

On stalled stadia, Mr Namwamba says there is no value for money in the projects.

“The government is still building these stadia. There is a need to revisit the designs of the stadia to ensure they are centres of excellence,” he said.

On stepping up the fight against doping which is affecting Athletics Kenya, he said The substances used for doping must be rated as hard drugs.

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 government must have an integrated approach to fighting drugs. If appointed, I will be at the forefront of fighting drugs,” he added.

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