Kenya Hockey Union sets sights on Tokyo 2020
The Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) Patron Chris Diaz says they have set out on a three-pronged approach in an ambitious bid that could see Kenya participate at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The governing body has put youth development, international exposure and a facelift of its facilities and infrastructure as top of their priorities while taking positives from the recently concluded Hockey Africa Cup of Club Championship where Kenya posted dominant results.
Telkom Orange crowned the rich Kenyan outing as they went on to bag the women’s title for the fifth consecutive and a record nine times while Kenya Police only fell at the last hurdle, losing on penalty flicks to Eastern Company of Egypt.
Kenyan teams pressed their home ground advantage, reaping big from the tournament with Sliders who were making their debut in the women’s competition emerging as the only local side to be eliminated from the group stage.
For Diaz, this dominance is a strong message to the hockey world.
“It was the biggest club championships because Kenya hosted an all-time high of 19 clubs which took part in the competitions. In turn, we invited a lot of schools whom together with local fans made the atmosphere at City Park one to love.
“The impact is we’ve now positioned women’s hockey in the country has now moved to a very high level internationally.
“We’re definitely Olympic potential and I’m very confident Kenya has a good chance of being at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo,” Diaz told Citizen Digital.
Diaz lamented worn out infrastructure have been an impediment for the progress Kenyan teams with the country’s only Astroturf pitch now a decade old.
Should the situation prevail, the consequences could be dire as they risk being locked out of international competitions by world governing body, International Hockey Federation (FIH).
FIH has however offered to provide a new Astroturf with a subsidized price that will be paid over the next three years.
“I’ve talked to the Ministry of Sports about the same so we’ll see how it pans out. Also, we’ve received a donated turf from a Dutch club that we will be laying out at the Nairobi Simba Club within the next three months,” Diaz added.
-Unwavering self drive-
Despite their continental supremacy, the Kenyans have remained largely uncelebrated locally and, at times, almost unnoticed.
Yet their self drive is unwavering.
“They have a thirst to shine especially because they all one to break into the national team and go on and play for professional clubs overseas. The local league is well organized and extremely competitive so much it’s now attracted foreign players.
“We had three foreign players playing for Butali Sugar and I can assure you they’re not motivated by financially incentives. It’s the high intensity of the game here and sometimes the tourist attraction sites in Kenya and Africa,” Diaz stated.
According to Diaz, the Netherlands have signed an agreement with KHU to offer technical training to its players and officials.
“One of our biggest problems is our short corners and we do not have good goalkeepers. Every time there is a short corner in Australia or Holland it’s almost always goals while here we can have so many yet fail to convert,” he added
He added KHU are keen to have a stable under 15s league drawn from Kenyan schools as that would act as a conveyor belt for the senior leagues as well as the national team.
“It’s the same system that Kenyan rugby has employed and the results have been tangible.”
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