Raw deal for sports in Kenya


Kenya Men Basketball Team, Morans. (PHOTO/FIBA)
Kenya men basketball team, Morans. [Photo / FIBA]

In Summary

  • Many of the stadia are in a derelict and dilapidated state, and their upgrade does not seem to be anywhere near the agenda of the government of the day since we celebrated independence.
  • Despite the harsh conditions that they have to go through, the super talented sportsmen of this country have always delivered when on international assignments, thus holding the country's flag high.
  • It is high time that the Kenyan government realized that the nation stands to benefit from proper investment in sports infrastructure.

 

Last season with nine seconds left on the timer, Toronto Raptors small forward Kahwi Leonard, The Klaw, stepped to the free-throw line and knocked down two free throws that could all but assure the raps a 114-110 scalp over Golden State Warriors thus winning them the 2018/19 NBA title.

That was a scenario the 24-year old franchise could have hardly dreamt of going into the postseason. It is the first major title the Raptors organization has won since its inception in 1995 having only collected six division titles previously.

The whole of Jurassic Park, as the much-fabled Raptors fans are known went into a frenzy and wild celebrations across Canada and the world at large.

This moment the moment was monumental that the Klaw could have thought. To him, it could have been helping the Raptors win their first title.

Little did he know that the whole of Africa was watching with a keen interest in the proceedings at the Oracle Center.

Three of Africa’s most coveted basketballers in recent times Serge Ibaka OG Anunoby Jr and Pascal Siakam were part of the trailblazing raptors. They had not only helped the team hit the zenith of its ambitions but also achieved the American Dream in the process by conquering the NBA.

By so doing they had joined an enviable list of NBA greats who hail from Africa whose exploits only helped to highlight the fact that the African continent can birth world-beaters.

Some of the most renowned players who took the NBA by storm in the past years include Nigeria’s Hakim Olajuwon (Houston Rockets), Democratic Republic of Cong’s December Mutombo (Houston Rockets), South Sudan’s

Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls), Festus Ezeli, Didier Ilunga Mbenga, Luc Mbah A Mote, Manute Bol, Bismarck Biyombo among many others.

Last season’s Most Valuable Player in the NBA Giannis Antetokounmpo is of Nigerian descent.

They perfectly personify the idea that one can take on the world’s best and win regardless of where they come from if they put in the hard work and dedication.

From the Raptors’ groundbreaking triumph, fast-forward 45 days later Kenya’s men basketball team, the Morans, hit unprecedented heights when they took on the Democratic Republic of Congo in the biennial AfroBasket championships.

Despite coming short in the final, this was a rare feat by any means and their exploits in Mali were met with huge applauds from Kenyans who felt the Morans had earned them the right to dream again regarding hoops.

The team went all the way to the finals overcoming perennial behemoths like Tunisia, Nigeria, Morocco, and Ivory Coast thus sending shockwaves to the African basketball landscape.

On their return, they were treated to a colorful welcome with many government officials, for instance, sports Principal Secretary Peter Kaberia and Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko highlighting on the pending sports infrastructure constructions that could help make Kenya a conveyor belt that churns out world-beaters from generation to generation.

On his recent sojourn in Kenya, Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri did not mince his words on his take on the state of infrastructure both in Kenya and Africa at large. In an exclusive interview with Jeff Koinange on the JKL Show, Ujiri noted that Africa’s abundant talent could only be paralleled to gold and diamond.

And as if he read many of the sports lovers’ minds, he pointed out the nagging concern that many governments do not take sports as a serious affair that can positively contribute to the national economy. They have literary neglected sports, something that has translated to almost zero investment in its development.

The mention of ongoing sports infrastructure constructions by senior government officials is a tip of the iceberg regarding the woes that Kenya’s incredible sportsmen and women have to go through when preparing for global sports tournaments.

Case in point, in the 2019/20 budget, then-Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said that a paltry Sh5.3 billion out of the total Sh1.4trillion budget valuation was to be shared between the Sports, Culture, and Arts departments.

As if that was not enough disservice to the sports fraternity he added that Sh7.9 billion would be taken away from the Sports, Art, Social and Development Fund to facilitate the universal health care initiatives.

A meager Sh200 million was allocated to the construction of Sports Academy in the previous financial year. For a layman, such little investment in sports academies is akin to nipping the cradle of sportsmen and women in the country.

Such little investment in sports has translated to deplorable infrastructure in the country. Kenya’s case study can be used to assess many countries on the continent.

Many of the stadia are in a derelict and dilapidated state, and their upgrade does not seem to be anywhere near the agenda of the government of the day since we celebrated independence.

The fact that the country’s sports infrastructure set up is demanding is well documented throughout the rugged history of Kenyan sports.

That perhaps explains the fact that we have been blowing hot and cold whenever we compete on a global scale.

The sports function has been consigned to the periphery of government planning, and if at all there is a feeble attempt at salvaging it, these attempts have been hijacked by the very patrons of the country’s pastime who illegally siphon from the coffers meant to develop it.  The athletes that represented the country in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games can attest to this.

The Confederation of African Football’s decision to strip Kenya its rights to host the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) is one of the notable indicators of the government’s nonchalant attitude towards sports.

Another important observation that Masai Ujiri made was the fact that as much as he would like to bring the NBA Africa games to Kenya, the country does not have the NBA-standard arena that can be used host a match of such magnitude.

Also, Kenya missed on the opportunity to be part of the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) organized by the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) due to its inadequate sports infrastructure.

Today, everyone expects Kenya to have at least four state of the art stadia where our great sportsmen can train to shine in international competitions. Unfortunately, we’re short of this in every respect.

Despite the harsh conditions that they have to go through, the super talented sportsmen of this country have always delivered when on international assignments, thus holding the country’s flag high.

Having excellent sports infrastructure is a guarantee for success for any country. It does not only provide optimum conditions for both the players and the fans to enjoy the sporting experience, but their excellent performances can inspire generations, thus leading to a sporting powerhouse.

Brazilian international Neymar Santos JR is on record to have said that he once dreamt of playing in the country’s iconic Maracana stadium. Given his utterances, it is safe to say that the stadium has played an instrumental role in making the nation the footballing cathedral it is today.

In our country, we are short of such inspiration. I have never come across a player dreaming of playing in any of the stadia that are accorded the national status.

It is high time that the Kenyan government realized that the nation stands to benefit from proper investment in sports infrastructure. As Ujiri correctly noted, if African players can shine in the western world, then we are giving them a raw deal here at home.

Last season with nine seconds left on the timer, Toronto Raptors small forward Kahwi Leonard, The Klaw, stepped to the free-throw line and knocked down two free throws that could all but assure the raps a 114-110 scalp over Golden State Warriors thus winning them the 2018/19 NBA title.

That was a scenario the 24-year old franchise could have hardly dreamt of going into the postseason. It is the first major title the Raptors organization has won since its inception in 1995 having only collected six division titles previously.

The whole of Jurassic Park, as the much-fabled Raptors fans are known went into a frenzy and wild celebrations across Canada and the world at large.

This moment the moment was monumental that the Klaw could have thought. To him, it could have been helping the Raptors win their first title.

Little did he know that the whole of Africa was watching with a keen interest in the proceedings at the Oracle Center.

Three of Africa’s most coveted basketballers in recent times Serge Ibaka OG Anunoby Jr and Pascal Siakam were part of the trailblazing raptors. They had not only helped the team hit the zenith of its ambitions but also achieved the American Dream in the process by conquering the NBA.

By so doing they had joined an enviable list of NBA greats who hail from Africa whose exploits only helped to highlight the fact that the African continent can birth world-beaters.

Some of the most renowned players who took the NBA by storm in the past years include Nigeria’s Hakim Olajuwon (Houston Rockets), Democratic Republic of Cong’s December Mutombo (Houston Rockets), South Sudan’s

Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls), Festus Ezeli, Didier Ilunga Mbenga, Luc Mbah A Mote, Manute Bol, Bismarck Biyombo among many others.

Last season’s Most Valuable Player in the NBA Giannis Antetokounmpo is of Nigerian descent.

They perfectly personify the idea that one can take on the world’s best and win regardless of where they come from if they put in the hard work and dedication.

From the Raptors’ groundbreaking triumph, fast-forward 45 days later Kenya’s men basketball team, the Morans, hit unprecedented heights when they took on the Democratic Republic of Congo in the biennial AfroBasket championships.

Despite coming short in the final, this was a rare feat by any means and their exploits in Mali were met with huge applauds from Kenyans who felt the Morans had earned them the right to dream again regarding hoops.

The team went all the way to the finals overcoming perennial behemoths like Tunisia, Nigeria, Morocco, and Ivory Coast thus sending shockwaves to the African basketball landscape.

On their return, they were treated to a colorful welcome with many government officials, for instance, sports Principal Secretary Peter Kaberia and Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko highlighting on the pending sports infrastructure constructions that could help make Kenya a conveyor belt that churns out world-beaters from generation to generation.

On his recent sojourn in Kenya, Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri did not mince his words on his take on the state of infrastructure both in Kenya and Africa at large. In an exclusive interview with Jeff Koinange on the JKL Show, Ujiri noted that Africa’s abundant talent could only be paralleled to gold and diamond.

And as if he read many of the sports lovers’ minds, he pointed out the nagging concern that many governments do not take sports as a serious affair that can positively contribute to the national economy. They have literary neglected sports, something that has translated to almost zero investment in its development.

The mention of ongoing sports infrastructure constructions by senior government officials is a tip of the iceberg regarding the woes that Kenya’s incredible sportsmen and women have to go through when preparing for global sports tournaments.

Case in point, in the 2019/20 budget, then-Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said that a paltry Sh5.3 billion out of the total Sh1.4trillion budget valuation was to be shared between the Sports, Culture, and Arts departments.

As if that was not enough disservice to the sports fraternity he added that Sh7.9 billion would be taken away from the Sports, Art, Social and Development Fund to facilitate the universal health care initiatives.

A meager Sh200 million was allocated to the construction of Sports Academy in the previous financial year. For a layman, such little investment in sports academies is akin to nipping the cradle of sportsmen and women in the country.

Such little investment in sports has translated to deplorable infrastructure in the country. Kenya’s case study can be used to assess many countries on the continent.

Many of the stadia are in a derelict and dilapidated state, and their upgrade does not seem to be anywhere near the agenda of the government of the day since we celebrated independence.

The fact that the country’s sports infrastructure set up is demanding is well documented throughout the rugged history of Kenyan sports.

That perhaps explains the fact that we have been blowing hot and cold whenever we compete on a global scale.

The sports function has been consigned to the periphery of government planning, and if at all there is a feeble attempt at salvaging it, these attempts have been hijacked by the very patrons of the country’s pastime who illegally siphon from the coffers meant to develop it.  The athletes that represented the country in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games can attest to this.

The Confederation of African Football’s decision to strip Kenya its rights to host the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) is one of the notable indicators of the government’s nonchalant attitude towards sports.

Another important observation that Masai Ujiri made was the fact that as much as he would like to bring the NBA Africa games to Kenya, the country does not have the NBA-standard arena that can be used host a match of such magnitude.

Also, Kenya missed on the opportunity to be part of the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) organized by the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) due to its inadequate sports infrastructure.

Today, everyone expects Kenya to have at least four state of the art stadia where our great sportsmen can train to shine in international competitions. Unfortunately, we’re short of this in every respect.

Despite the harsh conditions that they have to go through, the super talented sportsmen of this country have always delivered when on international assignments, thus holding the country’s flag high.

Having excellent sports infrastructure is a guarantee for success for any country. It does not only provide optimum conditions for both the players and the fans to enjoy the sporting experience, but their excellent performances can inspire generations, thus leading to a sporting powerhouse.

Brazilian international Neymar Santos JR is on record to have said that he once dreamt of playing in the country’s iconic Maracana stadium. Given his utterances, it is safe to say that the stadium has played an instrumental role in making the nation the footballing cathedral it is today.

In our country, we are short of such inspiration. I have never come across a player dreaming of playing in any of the stadia that are accorded the national status.

It is high time that the Kenyan government realized that the nation stands to benefit from proper investment in sports infrastructure. As Ujiri correctly noted, if African players can shine in the western world, then we are giving them a raw deal here at home.

For Citizen TV updates
Join @citizentvke Telegram channel



Video Of The Day: Sossion: What is happening to KNUT is a test for labour movement in this country | NEWSNIGHT |

Avatar
Story By Dan Ogega
More by this author