Wednesday, 27 June 2007
With the 9th All-Africa Games scheduled to start in Algiers, Algeria in the next one month, the preparations are well underway to ensure that the team gets all the support it needs.
It's been interesting to visit a couple of teams and see the preparations and I can say there is a departure from the past where the respective disciplines would have their camps late into the programme and have lack of quorum for the same. Back then, there would be bickering and disgruntled sportsmen and women lamenting about non-payment of this or that allowance.
This year, most disciplines have had ample time to prepare and the coaches have been committed to the cause and offered technical advice. The Government has also ensured that most of the teams in residential camps have most of what they need to train and prepare for the Games.
In this respect, I have witnessed a few of the camps such as baskeball(women),handball, rowing ( did you know we had that in Kenya ?) and athletics. If the athletes gave their all and stuck to a common goal, I believe we can improve on the medal haul from the last Games.
Yesterday the Ministry of Gender Services & Sports led by the Minister himself, stated that this time there is a reward system in place for medallists from the Games. Gold medallist will get KShs.300000 (approx US$4400),silver KShs.(US$2900)and bronze KShs.100000(US$1470). This is commendable since in the past the Government has only committed fund to such initiatives after the Games are over. In addition to this, commendation will be given to athletes who are outstanding in their performance. This may include the Head's of State Commendation(HSC), recognition at the local levels of the respective athletes' places of origin.
The Government has also funded the team with KShs.130 million (US$1.9 million) towards preparations for the Games. This is in addition to support from various private companies such as Farmers' Choice which has supplied the teams with sausages and meat products, Dasani(Coca-Cola Kenya) which has supplied mineral and drinking water among others. This is surely positive and a trend that ought to be maintained.
Along with preparations, the team will undergo drug tests to avoid embarrassing moments like the debacle at the Athens Olympic Games when one of Kenya's boxer's had to be sent home for failing a drug test. The team will also have a nutritionist to advice on the best diet to have before and during the Games.
I would say it is a step in the right direction but that should not mean it's enough. More corporate organisations need support individual disciplines during the preparations and also offer incentives for good performers. There should also be systems in place to ensure that athletes have a strict training and feeding regime making it possible to take fit athletes to the Games.
Training camps for the various disciplines should also be more professionally run and maintained annually to churn out sports men and women. Academies and clubs are mre like it here.
The performance of the team in the All-Africa Games should set the pace for what to expect in next year's Beijing Olympic Games. As such all the attention to detail and winning should be put and emphasised if Kenya is to remain a powerhouse in sports now and in the coming future.