Arguably Kenya has been the sports powerhouse in Africa. For a long time Kenyan has quite been dominant on track and field events. The recent exploits by Eliud Kipchoge, winning the Berlin marathon in a record time then following it up with London marathon win; goes to show how Kenyan athletes have consistently put the country on the global map.
Successive governments in the past have made promises of improving the sports facilities in the country, to enable the sports men and women train and use quality equipment in order to match their global competitors. Unfortunately these promises are often forgotten or plainly disregarded. A popular promise that Jubilee government made was the construction of five modern stadiums. Sadly none have been put up. The existing ones take years to be renovated. At the moment the country lacks adequate standard stadiums hence the high chances of missing out on hosting major continental and global sports tournaments.
The Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act, was amended through a bill presented in the National Assembly in 2017. The bill was passed and signed into law allowing the government to impose 35% tax on revenues from gambling entities. The proceeds were then to be channelled to a sports fund kitty, to be used to improve sports, education and cultural sector.
However despite the availability of sport funds and government’s commitment to adequately reward sportsmen and women representing the country in various sporting disciplines; there have been cases of delays in payments as well as lack of funding to facilitate section of sports teams.
Incidences of athletes complaining about unpaid dues aren’t strange. This is not only unfair to them but equally demoralising. On May 2, Kenya Paralympics Team staged a protest blocking a section of Thika Road, over their unpaid dues. The team was later dispersed by police officers in an inhumane manner. On April 25, junior championship team decried delay in remittance of their dues. The young athletes had dared to stage demonstration at parliament, only to be stopped by Athletics Kenya, Nairobi branch chairman Barnabas Korir. He pleaded with them to be more patient while promising to follow up on the issue. “The government has committed to paying this money. I just don’t know when but I trust Sports Cabinet Secretary (Amina Mohammed). She says they are processing the cash, kindly give her some time,” Korir told the upset athletes.
Frequent delays in release of allowances and funding will negatively affect the sporting morale in the country in the long run. Sports have helped many youths uplift their standards of living in the country. The best the government can do is to ensure that the sports docket is well funded. Monies allocated to it to facilitate various sporting events should be prudently used for the good of the sporting youths. The cases of athletes switching their nationalities, is a clear indication that much has to be done to retain our athletes. Such countries pay well the athletes and reward them well for representing and bringing pride to the countries.
The government needs to step up and give the sports sector a premium priority, since more youths can be empowered and their lives improved. It’s appalling when talented youths are denied a chance to reap from their talents, as a result of poor sports management.