By Mathew Ottamax
In the recent days there has been a lot of hue and cry from sportsmen and women and to some extent their mother federations.
Kenya as a country has been made relevant to the whole world by its gallant young men and women in sports, otherwise it would be sitting idle in the atlas and maps as just another destination to dwindling numbers of tourists coming to see the ravaged nature of the past and the fast fading wildlife due to corruption and hunger for money by some quotas in authority.
Truth be told the Government of Kenya or the concerned ministry has been giving just lip service to sports people while hoodwinking its outside subjects that all is settled and well.
Only Football Federation had some rare decent package before they left for Afcon tournament in Egypt.
We’ve had teams preparing to represent the country in different sporting arenas, instead their focus have always been shifted from the competition to dehumanizing factors ranging from unpaid allowances, being thrown out of residential camps, missing flights, visa hitches etcetera etcetera.
And as I write this article we might end up not being represented in some disciplines in Africa Games in Morocco due to athletes not securing entry visas in good time.
Thumbs-up, though to National Sports Council officials at the Kasarani secretariat who’ve been working tirelessly through the night to see it doesn’t happen.
While the whole country is expecting nothing short of medal avalanche at the 12th edition of the All African Games in Morocco, personally I am afraid because I feel we are headed for one of our disastrous outing in a major continental competition in a long time, and my reason being inadequate preparation in allusion to little funds or lack of it altogether.
This is coming after His Excellency The President said sometime back that never again our sporting teams will be dragged aback due to cash when the Sports Fund was being launched. Well, the cries have become even louder!
Cash strapped Federations have been abandoned with the baggage of fending for their teams and players as they desperately wait for the government to organize for the residential training.
According to me this facilitation came a bit too late and haphazardly planned with some teams having detached dining, training and boarding centers as opposed to an all in one facility.
Talk of making three different trips in a day! My question is, do we expect our boys and girls to equally compete with countries which started earnest preparation couple of months ago?
Already at Moi International Sports Center Kasarani confusion is galore as there are Africa Military Games going on at the facility which is supposedly the home of Kenyan athletes preparing for the continental showpiece slated for early next week kick off.
Again, we can’t blame the Military coz I believe they were organized in making prior booking of the facilities whereas someone somewhere was busy snoring as if the Morocco games just popped up in the calendar overnight! It’s called failure to plan ahead.
Oh! I have just realized am blaming the wrong person for the mess at our only viable facility that is MISC, lest I forget some manifesto over 5 years ago which promised and gave so much hope to this patient nation of Champions.
I guess you all remember the 5 stadiums, one has been built in Rwanda and about two in Ethiopia(excuse my pun)
Winding up, the profusely bleeding sporting industry suffered a major setback when the Kenya’s biggest sports teams and federations financiers Sportpesa withdrew its sponsorship after some tax battle with GoK.
As much as I support the government on paying of taxes, there’s also need for both parties to have a round table talk on modalities for a healthy working relationship.
Already Sportpesa absence is being felt and this might cast doom to the future generations in sports as well as jeopardize positive results for the current teams, individuals like lady boxer Fatuma Zarika and some Federations which are reliant on Sportpesa.
And if not the GoK should lure other corporate bodies into financing our sports.
Otherwise I stand with my clarion call: KENYA HAS NO SPACE AND PLACE FOR ITS SPORTSMEN AND WOMEN.
Matthews Ottamax is a former Kenyan international soccer player and a former goalkeeping coach for Harambee Stars also worked at Gor Mahia and Afc Leopards.