Friday, 27 July 2007

ALL AFRICA GAMES (AAG) 2007: Kenya Flirts with Mediocrity

Kasarani Sports Centre-official grounds for 1987 All-Africa Games
Africa has been waiting for a host for its own continental version of the Olympic Games, the All-Africa Games. It’s one of the world’s exhibitions of raw and amateur talent and there has been a yearning after being postponed twice. The planned host was having infrastructural problems setting up the stadiums, pools and grounds for the Games.
It can’t get worse when the firm appointed to market the Games makes off with millions of shillings (estimated at KShs. 200 million-approx US$ 3million) and the Ministry charged with the responsibility is left reeling from the bad publicity and delays.
Finally in August, Nairobi gets to host what can be said to be its biggest sporting extravaganza to swarm it. It does put up a good show worth the wait and the Kenyan team manages its best performance in the Games ever. From athletics, boxing, hockey, volleyball, basketball to fringe games like handball, tennis to name a few. It managed a respectable 4th position with a medal ranking of 22 Gold, 25 Silver and 19 Bronze medals.
It is from these Games that some sports legends in the country are discovered; from Robert Wangila (welterweight boxing fighter), Ambrose Ayoyi(footballer),Peter Akatsa(hockey captain), John Ngugi(5000m athlete) to Elizabeth Olaba (discuss thrower) and Susan Sirma being some of the outstanding sports personalities.

Triumphant John Ngugi at Seoul 1988 Olympic Games
The Games would be used as a springboard to Kenya’s participation in the 1988 Seoul Olympics where it made its largest medal haul in the Games to date. An unprecedented 5 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronzes was something to be proud about. It also helped launch Kenya’s maverick professional boxer Wangila R who would end tragically in the same boxing ring.
It also provided Kenya with an opportunity to showcase its athletes in the World Athletics Championships held in Rome Italy in the same year 1987, having Paul Kipkoech (10000m), Billy Konchellah(800m) and Douglas Wakiihuri taking 1st positions cementing Kenya’s status as a leading athletics powerhouse.
Circa 2007:
20 years on, Kenya sends its biggest squad since 1987 continental Games. The disciplines are well represented with such peripheral disciplines as kickboxing, rowing, horse-riding. True to tradition among the best performers are track athletes. A revelation by the name of Jason Dunford is revealed.

Dunford sending warning waves in Africa

He is such a phenomenon bringing the team 3 Gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze medals! The cycling team (of 3) manages silver in the 150km road-race courtesy of rider Chris Froome. Boxing has a dismal performance compared with the 80s “Hit Squad” getting only 1 Gold through one Suleiman Bilali.
Saving grace comes from the Paraplegic athletes serving up 5 gold, 4 silver and 1 bronze.
What went wrong? Where is the sense of patriotism? Where are the famed Kenyan athletes? Why would we flirt with mediocrity?
My two cents worth of critique would think of a few things, which we ought to consider if we are to challenge for continental and global sporting events;
- Development of a concrete and comprehensive sports policy- in a country priding itself as Africa’s sports powerhouse, it bothers me when 53 years after our first since Kenya was represented in a sports event: Commonwealth Games in 1954 (then known as British Empire and Commonwealth Games), there is no policy framework for sports. Yeah there is Ministry dealing with Gender but I feel it needs a whole Ministry to itself…check this:
o Brazil one of the world’s fastest growing economies has a Ministry of Sport dedicated to sport. We all know Brazil from its football, beach volleyball, basketball to name but a few sporting disciplines.
o In the Pan-American Games being hosted in Rio de Janeiro, around US$ 600 million (approx. KShs.39.6 billion) was spent with the federal government contributing 50% of the budget while the municipal and regional government sharing out the rest.
o Main emphasis was on; infrastructure, sports education and development of a sustainable legacy for the country.
o An arrangement is in place to have either private management OR public-private initiatives to ensure high standards of maintenance of the infrastructure developed. A social program is also being promoted to have 50000 children from under-priviledged parts to be coached and trained in various disciplines.

From this we can see that all main stakeholders need take sports more seriously with the Government leading the way.

- Professionalism in management of sports programme and bodies:- a glaring point from the Games shows that most of the bodies entrusted to run sports in Kenya don’t have the wherewithal to do a great job. How can Kenyan athletes manage ONLY 2 Gold medals in athletics while we have one of the biggest pool of talent in the world? Coming from the World Athletics Championships it was only fair that Kenya older athletes would have put a better performance than it did. Other disciplines merely represented their country without much impact (tennis, horse-riding…)

- Development of concrete youth programmes-as seen in the World Athletics Championships, youth will play a major role in various capacities if Kenya is to have its rightful place in sports.

- Reward system: - though commendable for its recent announcement, the government needs to work out a way of rewarding its best performers. More ways should also be developed to have the same being used as sports ambassadors to have them serve as role models to budding sports people.

- Better exposure- look at basketball (women), volleyball (men), tennis at the AAGs; you know what am talking about?

- Coverage of sports events: - with Games and sports events reaching as wide as possible an audience, Kenya will be reaping great rewards not just from its local audience but exposure of the talent to world audiences.

- More disciplines –this means the probability of harvesting more medals is likely.

From the few and other points, Kenyan sports officials and stakeholders can work harder and try getting Kenya its rightful place in sports. I look forward to the day, sporting nations will make a stop in Nairobi or any other city for either All-Africa Games, Commonwealth or even Olympic and World Cup (ambitious it is but possible)!

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

More Corporate participation in Sports

It seems funny when sports in Kenya is written off as a recreational and 'other' activity especially in corporate circles. Many a times have I heard federations,associations,unions and others in sports complain how stingy most top managers are in Kenya.
Funny enough, most of these guys have membership in top golf and country clubs but do not indulge in the game of Golf for sports and fitness purposes rather than a place for business networking and show-off for the latest clubs,4x4s and other indulgences. OK let me spare some slack for my pal who has been hoping to join a top golf club in Nairobi.
Lately though there has been a change of heart by a couple of these guys and some are letting up and throwing miniscule amounts to sports as they try to hide face and make more 'corporate responsible' practices. I have counted some which seem like strange bed-fellows in whichever sport they engage in ;
-top Bank among the blue chip companies roughing it up in the football grounds of Kenya,
-another , a parastatal that had more MDs than the palm of my hands in the last 10 years also thinking of moving into football.
Let's face it, these companies need sports more than sports needs them. Enumerate the benefits, cheap PR, a wider and more concentrated audience,fitness among the employees, among others. Let's keep our fingers crossed, even the Government announcing a reward system for its athletes, glory Halleluyah !
It's not a favour, it's both a duty and obligation of the stakeholders to keep it in sports, cos we don't disappoint. I'll blow this till Kingdom come...

Compe ni Compe -Satellite TV in Kenya

I love it! From the choice of sliced bread to the milk and yoghurt products that some of us like indulging in once in awhile. Even margarine has one of the favourite’s getting a run for its money from the latest entrant in Kenya. They call it liberalization, free market of whatever other ‘economik’ term they come up with, but for consumers it’s more quality, more competitive packages (which usually become affordable to US , CONSUMERS !), wider offering to name but a few.
Well same thing has happened fro those who enjoy pay TV or satellite-supported TV programming in Kenya. GTV vs DSTv! Starting with them having almost similar names, everything else starts drawing semblances. From having sports channels (mainly offering football, English Premier League for all you football fans!), cartoons for the kids, drama and action channels is the main attractions. But let’s take an even closer look;
Over the weekend, DSTv came up with what they are calling “DSTv Fact # 47” – 3 packages namely
- Premium with over 50 channels at a price of KShs. 4800 (approx. US$ 70),
- Compact- over 25 TV channels at KShs. 1725 ( approx.US$25)and
- Family-over 20 TV channels at KShs.1350 ( US$20)
Now let’s check GTV’s offering, well for starters they have narrowed it to a single product of KShs. 1750 (ex VAT) thus KShs. 2030 (US$ 30). Well the catch here is that they have named the channels on offer. Plus there is an installation charge of KShs.15000 which has a month’s free subscription. For the marketers, they would call it a mass market approach. This is usually so for a company that wants to make the numbers as they play catch up to more established firms (in this case , DSTv, Oxygen TV and local channels). What I like though is that DSTv has finally felt a jolt and come down to where they can do business with more Kenyans as the appeal and demand for satellite TV rises. This is the future for TV and as the major media houses in Kenya can show, subscribe and beaming your news and other programmes over the country and continent will have its appeal and audience-not mentioning possible sources of revenue for exclusives and other local productions too. I can mention 2 here KBC and Nation which have led the way, but am sure Citizen is catching up fast as KTN also tries to put its act together.
Let’s see how far the 2 satellite channels will take this, but as said, it’s YOU and ME who they should look out for! As you make your choice for English Football premiership and other favourite sporting action , know that ....There’s TV and there’s GTV and accept nothing else DSTv……so much more !

Monday, 23 July 2007

All Africa Games- a Brief on Kenya ,sideshows

With the Games coming to an end yesterday at the capital Algiers, first I'll have to say am deeply disappointed by the overall performance of the team. For a country callng itself Africa's sporting powerhouse, 15 gold medals is mediocre by any standards. Before I go on, I'll first pay tribute to our 'dashing' Dunford, he won Kenya 3 gold medals (2 silver & 3 bronze) in swimming.
Other disciplines such as athletics could afford a few medals, but compliments to Boxing's Suleiman Bilali, Cycling's Chris Froome, the tae-kwon-ndo team and also the rowing team.
I'll try give a more comprehensive analysis as the days go by.
On another note though, doping seems to have been part the Algiers Games too. Weightlifting champion Blessed Udoh of Nigeria tested positive for a diuretic and Angolan swimmer Rola Nuno Nuno was positive for an anabolic steroid on Sunday. The former had won Nigeria a gold,silver & bronze medal in the women's weightlifting while the latter hadn't won any medals. Their results were nullified henceforth.
Also reporting from Algiers, the Nation correspondent was on hand for the Kenyan volleyball game between Kenya and Algeria where Kenya's men's team lost by 3-0. Some fan interference had led to the game being stopped for 45 mins before the Kenyans were persuaded to come back. Me thinks this is abominable coming at this time and age and Algeria ought to be punished for fan trouble. But will it happen ....?

Formula 1: European GP

After the accident on Saturday during the qualifying rounds, Lewis Hamilton had the most scary of start in the F1 season. The leader on points had had a fairly great start to the season until the Canadian GP when he started making mistakes and letting the Ferrari team catch up.
Well this weekend at the European GP in Nurburgring, the only consolation was that a McLaren team mate won the GP. Fernando Alonso drove tactically edging out Felipe Massa-Ferrari into second. Thus he has cut Hamilton's lead by 2 points. Coming in 3rd was Mark Webber of Austria in a Red Bull Renault. Hamilton could only afford a humbling 9th position which I think was good enough given what he went through on Saturday. The other main challenge Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari could do 34 laps before bowing out.
Alonso attributed his victory to wet conditions which he says," Always when it rains I am quite happy and I have some fun".
Let's see how the title race catches up in the next round at Hungary.
The drivers' standings are as follows;
1. Lewis Hamilton 70
2. Fernando Alonso 68
3. Felipe Massa 59
4. Kimi Räikkönen 52
5. Nick Heidfeld 36
6. Robert Kubica 24
while the constructers' table is ;
1. McLaren-Mercedes 138
2. Ferrari 111
3. BMW 61

Friday, 20 July 2007

Kenyan Football sinks oh so low !

Well as if it is new, Kenyan football rankings sunk to its lowest ever at 137 according to the lastest FIFA rankings. KFF can you smell the coffee ? If this is not enough reason ( which me thinks is VERY serious) then you better pack you bags to Siberia !
There are some positions that ought not to be our place NOW OR EVER. But because of some individual selfish (and stupid) behaviour of Kenyan football officials.
The World Cup ain't so far away and I'll hate myself due to reasons beyond my comprehension and reach ! Style Up brothers !

Weekend Action

It's the weekend and those party lovers are back in town. Well for some of us it's chill time as we watch our favorite sports action over this weekend. Let's see what action is there;
The Asian Cup action continues. Though it seems to have been overshadowed by the just-ended Copa America, this tourney also has some tight action with quarter-finals starting as Japan face Australia,Vietnam face Iraq, Iran vs South Korea while Saudi plays Uzbekistan in the remaining games.

All Africa Games:
Well for those who can't afford Pay TV, the national network KBC will screen some action from Algiers in the ongoing All-Africa Games as they reach their climax. The athletics programme is already on and Kenyans can expect more medals in the coming days.

Pan-America Games:
Yes there are Pan American Games going on in Rio De Janiero -Brazil having started on 13th and ending on 29th of July. The Games brings together countries in the Americas-North, Central and South. They have top dogs like USA, Cuba, Brazil, Canada among others battle it out in 38 disciplines.

Formula 1 action returns on Sunday with the European Grand Prix at Nurburgring. Lewis Hamilton who is suffering some flu will look to go back to winning ways as he tries to ward off Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. The ongoing investigation about spying will also be hanging over the race with uncertainity clouding McLaren's lead at the top.

The Tour de France continues this weekend but the action has been dogged by drug controversies once again. With the action now in France proper, the riders continue tackling the Alps as they tackle stage 12 between Montpellier & Castres. The top 3 positions are as follows;
1.Boonen T.-Belgium
2.Hunter R.-South Africa
3.Zabel E.- Germany

Please make sure you don't indulge too much as there is always a next week to live out. Also watch those pockets as the month seems to trudge along slowly to its end. Check you back on Monday for results,updates and more sporting news !

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Kenyan Hockey luck

Contrary to what most of us thought, the Kenyan hockey players have put up some performances not losing any game so far and almost guaranteeing a place in next year's Olympic Games.
This being the only game where nations have to play outside the All Africa Games to qualify for the Olympics, it would serve the country well to host and secure a berth to Beijing next year July-August. Well am an optimist and hope they prove their worth !

NBA players come a -charity

NBA stars are rare commodities on this part of the world. Well, Kenya hosted 3 starts from the League, namely Ron Artest-Sacramento Kings (formerly with the Indiana Pacers),Theo Ratliff Boston Celtics (also former Pacers player), Etan Thomas and Maurice Evans who turn out for the LA Lakers.
They have been in the country through a joint project between the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and Feed the Children programme – an international Christian organisation that delivers food, medicine, clothing and other necessities to disadvantaged people around the world.
They said it was humbling experience and they came face to face with the realities of poverty in Africa. They also expressed interest in arranging a basketball clinic in Kenya. I only hope this is not lip service and they keep a promise. Kenyan basketballers especially the male ones desperately need some redemption !

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

July Cold ….uuuuhhhh!

Well as much as some of us fancy the cool weather I feel this time it has outfoxed us! I have been under the weather for the last few days to some extent due to this. The guys with a job that has no qualms if everything goes haywire-weathermen (oh... but there is one lady at Nation who got the easiest of jobs), have been saying that cool winds have been blowing from the South and due to adverse environmental conditions, the elements are beating us hard. I hope for once they are wrong cos’ I really long for the day I’ll be able to go for a dip at my favourites pool as I bask in the sweet Sun!

I Reminisce

(Guitar is strummed)…It’s been a hard day’s work and I’ve been working like a dog….... (The Beatles 60s hit). For those ‘young’ enough then, you can remember some animated feature that used to be shown on Kenya’s national TV channel KBC around 1987. This programme used to come on Saturday afternoons, and thanks to my parents weaning us on some 50s, 60s, and 70s and to some small bit 80s music, I was a sucker for the whole ‘toon.
It used to evoke even crazy memories cos some KPLC black-out had cost us our modest Sanyo Black and White TV which had served us diligently for 8 years. Thus my siblings and I had to find some accommodating neighbour for such moments much to the chagrin of our larger-than life Mum. I can vividly remember that it was around that time too that we used to find ourselves go for Saturday catechism classes at some nearby Catholic Church (I can recite some memorable lines). Thus after these monotonous classes (do kids still do such things nowadays?), the afternoons were to die for. First came the lunch which would be taken with one eye on the clock as we’d not want to miss The Beatles Animated feature.
After this consensus would be sought on the neighbour to ‘raid’ with an impromptu visit, of course that was after running cat and mouse games with our parents as we try to loose them off. With the location decided, I usually found myself being at the front since somehow almost every neighbour at our place used to have girl or boy my age. So I was sort of the link and would come up with some excuse like, ‘can I see George? I seem to have forgotten my text-book in GHC and I thought I could borrow his copy?’
As the parents try trace ‘George’, my ‘accomplices’ would quickly squeeze behind me and make themselves comfortable on the sofas as we wait for the text-book.
Once ‘George’ is traced somehow he also fell into the mix and suggested that we take some tea to which my ‘accomplices’ would gleefully welcome.
Well again due to the same fault of KPLC due to power surges(would they care compensating us for ‘lost view-time’…?)we missed the 1987 All-Africa Games. Unfortunately our little gigs had been figured out and my Mum was more hawk-eyed than ever. A promise *by my Dad to visit the venues was quickly forgotten as he left town for some company training out of town. *{To compensate this, I was promised a visit to Kasarani when the Africa Cup of Nations was to come to Kenya in 1996 but our Federation and Government then made sure that it remained a pipe dream !}
I can remember the dread of the cheers as my neighbours watched the Kenya vs. Malawi and Kenya vs. Cameroon games which went down as some of the greatest moments in Kenya’s sporting history. My only solace was the old box of a radio possessed by my old man where we listened to one Salim Manga, Tido Mhando, as they wowed us with action at the Nyayo National Stadium.
Who can forget the dash by one Chidi Imoh in the 100m as he ran a wind-assisted 9.90 secs ? Remember Innocent Egbunike’s scorching of the 4x400m as came from a distant 2nd to anchor and win the race over Kenya’s David Kitur? Or Kenya’s Hit Squad taking the City Hall by storm winning 8 out of a possible 12 medals in boxing? City Park coming alive with Peter Akatsa’s led Kenya’s men hockey team taking the gold? I can dredge up these on and on.
I had copies of the Weekly Review for the month of August 1987 as I kept reviewing the performance of our brothers and sisters in the Games. That was my only memory thanks again to my compatriots in the KPLC.

(AAG) All Africa Games-Algiers 2007

Day 7:
It wouldn’t sound so bad when you get to know that Kenya’s representatives have been making exploits than never before at the Games in places you would least expect them. Cycling? Swimming? Yes you heard me right and it gets better, one was even a gold medal and the coaches tell us that three is another coming soon!
I covered this sometime on this blog asking which of the athletes would be considered as Kenya’s Top Sports Brands and one of the names there was the Dunford brothers, Jason and David. This is Kenya’s toast of the pool! And to prove it in 3 days Jason has claimed 3 medals (1 Gold and 2 bronze). The brothers are attending college in USA but have always carried the flag of their place of birth proudly and we can only give them more inspiration here at SportsKenya. This goes to show why the so-called ‘smaller sports’ should be encouraged gradually as the country hopes to add to its medals’ tally.
The traditional sports –athletics, boxing and volleyball have become quite competitive and we are not guaranteed any worthy medals anymore. Even anything from Abuja (2003) Kenya got ONLY 4 gold medals, 5 silver and 5 bronze. For a country priding itself as Africa’s powerhouse in sport that is despicable !That’s why when I hear a rider by the name Christopher Froome record 2nd position on the road races claiming a silver medal, I do a little victory dance on the street.
The AAG Kenyan team manager one Eng. Maurice Aluanga said, “Whenever the national anthem is played and the Kenyan flag is hoisted in international competition, it does not segregate between sports and small sports”.
On Sunday, the Paralympians claimed 3 gold and 2 silver. The ladies basketball team is yet to lose a game (as of Monday when they play Nigeria), volleyball (both men and women) have lived up to their billing while 4 boxers seem to be going for nothing short of gold, we ain’t even started yet on athletics! I’ll keep my small count. Keep yours and let’s compare notes as we close in Games on Monday, the 23rd of July at the July 2 Stadium in Algiers, Algeria.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Lack of seriousness….check that again!

I saw a piece of mail from one of the contributors on The Daily Nation’s column –The Cutting Edge. This is one piece I usually check out but at times do get really disappointed at the lack of information and depth in our arguments. People talking about names, use of words and other such irrelevant issues. I have tried to send and even reply to some of the stories but I guess my mails keep hanging in this our cyberspace (or does it go to Watchie’s bulk mail?)
Well my eye caught this one and I couldn’t resist the urge to set things straight. It was one Teddy Muthusi commenting on the lack of seriousness on the Ministry of Sports at what he termed ‘mickey-mouse preparations for the All-Africa Games where he said he saw the rowing team practicing in Kasarani’s Sports Centre’s swimming pool.
That much they did! But does he know that the team was in residential training at Masinga Dam (one of dams making the Seven Forks Dams Electricity Generation points)? Does he know that the Kenya Rowing Club held an international rowing competition in the said dam sometime last year? Does he know that there are 3 men and 1 lady representing the country in the discipline?
Also due to the growing population of Nairobi (like you and me) and the scarcity of resources, the best they could use as training grounds in Nairobi was the pool ( proximity and also residential camp for the national team) ? The Rowing Club had an office at Langata’s Nairobi Dam but I guess you’d know what happened….water hyacinth, stupid!
Check your facts and read the news before you start crying wolf!
Check the following website OR (Kenya Canoe Championships) website for more info and if not I can hand you a few snaps from Masinga. I happened to be there on another assignment and found the team there .I too was surprised at the preparations which I had thought would be mediocre. Though not at their best, they have made a huge step towards future success if they keep the focus and attract more talent.

Barbs to our Cameroon Brothers

Insensitivity in this Our Times
I recalled sometime back for those who used to read The Daily Nation on Fridays’ and there used to be this article by one Tom Mshindi (lately appointed as The Daily Monitor MD in Uganda by Nation Media Group). It used to go by the name “Bouquets & Barbs”. Back then the articles in most newspapers ,though they were not as many, were more objective and also covered a wider reach not just covering our current ‘pollutics’ as one of our entertainers I can’t recall which one says.
OK back to what was itching in my mind. It hurts in this time and age when a country finds within itself to act in a most despicable way. It also hurts more when we are busy talking about some United States of Africa of which I’ll not start blubbering about here. It also doesn’t augur well coming so close to the Kenya Airways air crash (rest their souls in peace) which happened in the same country.
More to the point it’s about the trials and tribulations that the Kenyan Rugby 15 a-side national team went through as they were to play their African Cup game in Yaounde over the past weekend. First the entry to the airport, visa entry cost each team member KShs. 7370 (approx. $110) on arrival on Friday 6th July. But this was after it was lowered from KShs.10050 (US$150) at the airport road-block manned by the local police.
After this, the team was forced to train on a murram pitch as they tried to tune up for the game proper on Sunday. Come Sunday there was no vehicle to collect the players and ferry them to the game venue. The Kenyan officials had to hire 7 taxis to get the players to the venue.
Gallantly our players stood, played and won the game 22-19 making sure of a place in the semi-finals to be played from August 6-12. The other countries include Cote d’Ivoire, Madagascar and Uganda.
This is where I throw the barb(s);
Why would anyone in their right mind demand such extortionists’ amounts from a visiting team? Don’t they have immigration officers manning the entry or those are the officers?
How does a country decide to throw the visitors into the woods and even leave them to the ‘hyenas’ for them to find their way back to the ‘civilisation’?
Why would one state show such display to another country that they owe so much especially after such a precarious state of diplomacy following the aircraft crash in May?
{I’m reminded that they had the audacity to send regional heads to accompany a whole Minister in the search for the plane which they even didn’t know where it was only for it to be found a throwing distance from the airport}

Barbs in abundance to the Cameroonian authorities and their rugby officials!

World Youth Athletics Championships

Kenya's athletics prowess is put to the test again as the country's young talent lines up among the world's youth at the World Youth Athletics championships being held in Ostrava,the third largest city in the Czech Republic.
We will be watching all the action as we anticipate a respectable medal haul from the meet. Kenya hoiyeee !

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Weekend Kickin'

The Asian Cup kicked off in the 4 states hosting it. There were interesting games as expected of any tournament. It will be interesting to see which of the countries come out unscathed and those that will be the surprise package(s) of the same. Vietnam started by surprising UAE to a 2-0 win.
Other fixtures were as follows;
Thailand 1-1 Iraq
Australia 1-1 Oman
Japan 1-1 Qatar
Today Malaysia face China
while Indonesia take on Bahrain

Where do we come in? First for the South Africans organizing the World Cup they would have to visit the 4 countries to take notes on such issues as;
Crowd control and management,
Sponsorship (especially for localized sponsorship as ensured in such tourneys),
Media coverage (TV, radio, print and lately Internet)
Copa America:

Brazilian players mob defender Juan after he scored his 1st goal for Brazil in the tournament.
The tourney got into the quarter-finals where Brazil proved their critics wrong by crashing Chile 6-1. Robinho again was the toast of the team scoring 2 goals with Julio Baptista,Juan, Josue and Vagner Love contributing the rest.
Other games had Uruguay beat Venezuela 4-1 with Diego Forlan scoring 2 goals while Argentina gave Peru a 4-0 lesson in football while Mexico run riot with Paraguay with a 6-0 score.
It will be interesting to see how far Brazil can take their game further as they look to grow from strength to strength. They have been criticized for playing a more defensive game. I would doubt that since they have the leading scorer of the tournament and what may matter now is to consolidate play to the Final.

Argentine Juan Riquelme runs for the ball from Peruvian player
Argentina will be their main threat as usual as they continue their flourish in this tourney. Their casual approach only belies the depth of talent the team has. They would be really be lifted by a Cup since their disappointing campaign in the 2006 World Cup where they had been touted to go all the way only to fall to the Germans in the 2nd round.
Top scorers as of last night have
Robinho (Bra) 6 goals,
Juan Riquelme (Arg) 4 goals and
Nery Castillo (Mex) 4 goals

The semis have :
Uruguay vs Brazil
& Argentina vs Mexico.


Australia's Wallabies vs South Africa's Springboks
Australia made their second comeback in as many weeks to upset the South African Springboks with a 25-17 win. Playing at home and bidding farewell to 2 of their half-backs, the Wallabies came from 0-17 to take down to the wire.

Formula One:
Ferrari also won the second race of the Grand Prix series with Kimi Raikkonen taking victory in the British Grand Prix at the Silverstone. Coming second however here was Fernando Alonso for the McLaren with Hamilton taking 3rd position a whole 39 seconds. This was disappointing to the home crowd who had cheered on the whiz-kid Hamilton to the pole position on Saturday.

The Finn showed why Ferrari seems to have a superior vehicle to the McLaren (-Mercedes), BMW Sauber and Renault. As I’ll keep saying the title ain’t even over yet. Hamilton will need some serious inspiration to keep the lead from the Flying Fiery Ferraris!
The kid still maintains a 12 point lead at the Driver’s standings with McLaren-Mercedes also leading the Manufacturers’ table.

I said here and I say again, the Williams sisters’ ain’t done yet. They showed where they have consistently featured on the top flight tennis and why we might have to watch them a little longer as they power their way back to the top (even though it ain’t easy as it appears).

Venus Williams won her 4th Wimbledon title (2000, 2001, 2005 and now 2007) by beating France’s Marion Bartoli 6-4, 6-1 in what was a one-sided game. It was an interesting game which featured two seeds outside the top 10 (V.Williams 23rd and M.Bartoli 18th). That’s the lowest ranking to win a Grand Slam outside Serena’s 81st when she won the Australian Open early this year.
She seemed to have sought revenge for the sister who writhed in pain during her quarter-final game and had to exit the doubles game which they usually pair. They won the 2000 doubles title.

For the men’s tie, OK I got it half-way right since I said Roger Federer is the king on the grass court. As for his match, I was wrong since it was again Rafael Nadal which was another Grand Finale to watch.
The two last met a month ago at the French Open where Nadal played Federer to a quick one and sorted him out within 2 hours. This time it was a little longer taking 3 hrs and 45 mins. Federer rose to a 7-6 4-6 7-6 2-6 6-2. This means he’s won the tourney 5 times and emulated Swede Bjorn Borg who also won it five times in the early 80s. This battle ain’t over yet between the two top seeds who have dominated the men’s game in the last 2 years.

The Golden League Grand Prix events got the second leg with the Paris Golden League track and field meeting. Kenya’s hope one Paul K.Koech lost out on the jackpot (which consists of $1 million shared out among winners of all 6 events of the Golden League). The Kenyan was caught in a serious error where the last lap bell was rung prematurely only for the Kenyan to realize this late and try to catch up with the rest of the field (thus finishing 2nd overall). This left American Michelle Perry (100 m hurdles), Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva (women’s pole vault), Finland’s Tero Pitkaemaeki (men’s javelin) and USA’s Sanya Richards (400m flat).

All Africa Games:
July 11th-27th 2007
Kenya’s team last batch left the country on Sunday and is due to arrive in Algeria today. The Games start on 11th (Thursday). Kenya is represented in athletics, basketball, boxing, chess, cycling, rowing, swimming, tae-kwon-ndo, table-tennis and lawn tennis and volleyball.
Show-jumping will make its debut (and Kenya is also represented in this) as well as rowing. Chess and kick-boxing will be having their second appearances. The wide array of representation and disciplines should ensure Kenya get a large haul of medals, if most preparations and prospects are anything to go by. The Government’s incentives as well as sponsors should have the athletes fight for the very top. Well, there is no reason to hold back, get that GOLD!

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Weekend Cocktail

Weekend Cocktail

This ought to be a great weekend for all you sporting enthusiasts. There is enough on offer to keep warm and cheerful in the house as this chilly weather continues in Nairobi. Let's see what's being served ;
The Copa America continues as the matches reach the quarter-final stages.
Saturday :
Venezuela v Uruguay and Chile v Brazil
Sunday: July 8, 2007
Mexico v Paraguay
Argentina v Peru
The Asian Cup which is being hosted by 4 countries,Indonesia,Thailand,Malaysia and Vietnam will start and continue for the next 23 days. This is a great frontier for the football game which has grown in leaps and bounds in the Asian sub-continent especially after hosting the 2002 World Cup. Japan will look to retain the Cup with Australia and South Korea all out to topple them.

The penultimate stages of the Wimbledon tourney with Finals being played. Venus Williams wants to show why she is still no push-over in women's tennis while battle for supremacy looks almost certain between Nadal and Federer for the men's game.

The British Grand Prix is held at Silverstone with Lewis Hamilton shooting from the word go. The pole positions will be decided today with the race proper taking place on Sunday. Ferrari will try be hot on the heels for the 2nd victory this season over McLaren.

The most famous bicycle riding race in the world starts in London. Interesting since it's called Tour de France . But it traverses through more than one European country before the finish down the streets of Paris with a grand entry at the Champs Elysee. The race will hope to erase last year's link with drugs where the winner Landis ended up with links to drug usage. Another favourite Italian Danilo di Luca is under investigation while Ivan Basso was banned for 2 years. Michael Pettachi will be missing from this year's Tour too. New kids on the block will hope to get the yellow jersey which was Lance Armstrong's for the taking for 7 consecutive years 1999-2005.

Tri-Nations has Australia tackling South Africa as the teams get warmed up for the World Cup in September.

England plays West Indies.

Kenya Basketball continues with a few ties for Premier and Division One Leagues.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

All Africa Games- Kenyan team handed flag

I am being patriotic here !Yesterday the Kenyan national team to the All-Africa Games received the flag from the Head of State at State House Nairobi.
With the Games starting next week on July 11th, there couldn't be a better motivation than to receive assurance from the highest office. The flag was handed to the team captain 400m athlete Ezra Sambu together with asst. captain, basketballer Angela Luchivya. They were accompanied by Team's Chef de Missio Nderitu Gikaria and Team Manager Eng.Maurice Aluanga.

The president assured the athletes that the Government would continue to support sports and expressed the Government’s wish to provide an avenue where those who had special talents in sports could pursue their career. He noted that the budget for the Games had increased from Sh40 million in 2004 to more than Sh150 million in 2007.
The athletes have been assured handsome rewards with gold medallists receiving KShs.300000 (Approx.US$4600),silver KShs.200000(US$3100)and bronze KShs.100000 (US$1500).
This is also the largest contigent sent abroad since the start of the Pan-African Games in 1965.
What more can I say ?
Kenya Hoiyeee !
For more details log on to or

Cycling -Kenyan perspective

As the All Africa Games get underway later this month, I couldn’t help but seek other fringe disciplines to look out for, I have followed an interesting one here, cycling. I love cycling and any male guy ( oops let’s just say individuals !) who experiences riding a bicycle it’s one of the most relaxing and best ways of keeping fit in this crazy lifestyles of ours. China has their workforce going to work on bicycles to ease traffic and pollution in the urban centres.
Well, I have seen that the Kenyan team will consist of 3 individuals who will hope to represent the country on the road races in such of the elusive gold medals. A reasonable team and more able would be around 6-10 riders but again as I said in a blog below, they have all these cost-cutting measures.
I remember some Games they had been participating (Commonwealth or Olympics) where they were given the wrong bikes only for a well-wisher to come to their aid in the nick of time, while another incident had the brothers try to train on some highway only to be arrested by traffic cops on patrol!
But I couldn’t help but think, why can’t they recruit some of the boda boda riders from the Western region of this country? These our countrymen have enjoyed this as a source of livelihood and also an alternative form of transportation especially on the plains where it’s reasonably flat areas. I have also noticed the spill-over effect of these guys into other major towns such as Nakuru, Thika, Eldoret among others.
If we were serious about our sports, we could come up with a framework where can take up a sample size and put them into a training regimen to improve on their skills and also hone their talent. A provision of better training equipment and cycles would be in order too. It would be fair to say that most would be only too willing to jump onto those pedals. Let’s just say that they would be a thrill to watch once taken through such a scheme. Who knows we could be holding a great Greg Lemond or Lance Armstrong (both multiple Tour de France winners)
But then again I maybe just dreaming….!

Ethiopians show how it’s done

For a long time, the nemesis of Kenyan athletics has been at it more often than not proving us to be minions in the field. I always get amazed that over the last many years the Ethiopian team to such championships as Olympics , All Africa Games numbers less than 20 but when the medal haul is counted ( note the more the Gold medals the higher your position on the roll of winners), they end up having more than Kenyan athletes.
Well seek no more, starting today the Daily Nation will serialize the force behind the Ethiopians – The Untold Story. This is done by a seasoned hand in sports coverage in Kenya one Elias Makori.

You can access the story on start with a feature on Meseret Defar ). This will highlight among others on the Ethiopian legends, their training regimen, their way of living off the field, money making and the 2007/8 season

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

All Africa Games: Are we ready or not?

Ready or not! Here I come! You can’t hide! … goes the song by The Fugees (from a song by The Jackson 5).
Is the Kenyan team ready (or not)? I get dismayed when I start reading stuff like …players have not been paid allowances….players do not have adequate facilities to prepare…due to lack of funds we are scaling down the team ….and other such balderdash !
In a country where we have over 30 Ministers and their Assistants who have admitted to not having any work, where when a Government can afford to build a house for relation of a dead Government official costing into tens of millions, where some convoys have cars costing well over KShs.30 million but can ill-afford to prepare a team which will not only bring recognition to the country but will have free publicity and ambassadors across the continent.
It hurts me when I find us having misplaced priorities.
Let me digress briefly….it’s like when you find City Council repairing the pavements which have had gravel and are partially macademised but forget about a section of road that is a main artery of the city (Muranga and Thika Road) !
Back to where we ought to be! All-Africa Games!
The other day, hockey players staged a sit-in due to unpaid allowances along with lack of kits, equipment, proper preparations and medical attention. This is for both the men and women’s teams. My goodness these are the teams that represented Kenya in the 1987 All-Africa Games and came out with Gold (Men’s) while the ladies have represented Kenya severally in the continental scene. Yet we can only afford a measly KShs. 300 as allowance while we hope that by some miracle they will win something at the Algiers All-Africa Games …. *******?
The other day I happened to be at the venue (more like camp) where the Rowing team is going through its motions. I overheard a heated telephone conversation where one of the resident managers was raising concerns with the team officials in Nairobi for not visiting them to check on progress or even making sure all is well at the camp.
I also found out the Boxing contingent has been trimmed to 7 boxers to minimize expenses and concentrate on the few who have medal chances. This is the same or has similar scripts in other sports disciplines.
OK, the Minister in charge of Sport did threaten anyone who might be going on a joyride not to bother trying to, but who are we fooling? Between the officials and the players who does more joy-riding? I have never heard of an official complain of unpaid allowances, or being left at some dinghy hotel at the middle of the night due to some unsettled bills.
If we are to have any serious contenders for medals at Algiers later this month, then we need to put our act in order. Can the Chef de Missio and Manager find ways of raising funds and securing the support of the Government and private sector? Are there no plans made to accommodate and train athletes for such important events? Now & in future there needs to such arrangements made. Otherwise we might as well save face and send only three people to the Games but be sure they will at least come with something home!

Noble idea but is there hope?

For those who read the dailies and flip through the sports pages of the leading dailies, in the last 2 months, we have seen major companies in Kenya splashing over KShs. 30 million. This is to sponsor the secondary/high schools tournaments. This couldn’t have come at a better time. With the crop of the current national players and Premier League approaching their sunset years, it’s only logical that they have feeder programmes which will ensure that there is constant supply of new players.
Ideally Kenya should have an under 14, under 17, under 19 and the national team all with a wide base to choose from. As in other programmes and countries supported by FIFA (the Goal Project…see…) these teams should have their own camps, different training schedules , different managers and technical benches but under the same mandate which in our case would be KFF.
But alas, this is not to be. The last time I heard about the under 19 (or was it under 17?) was when they played some Ghanains in a friendly which they lost but not without raising concern about age-cheating by Ghana. I have said severally that talking about KFF officials is like finding fool’s gold! Bright in promise, but all a sham!
Referring to the commitments made by the corporations, I would state the following;
1.It would be in vain contributing money and funds to the development of youth at the early stages only for them to graduate to non-existent or under-funded teams. Measures should be put in place to finance existing and emerging teams to be able to provide continuity.
2.It is also important for the corporations to engage the KFF officials in making commitments that will bind them and be held accountable for the success/failure of the development of the leagues.
3.Commercialisation and development of such and related structures need be explored in the very near future if Kenyan football is to make sense. The time for institutional teams (some tribal if I maybe corrected) is almost over and without the numbers of the ardent fans and fan clubs, alternative sources of sustenance need be sort.
4.Issues relating to media presentation and appeal, stadia development, fan management and major sponsorship need be addressed. Some media houses would only be too willing to screen the games but not the mediocre games that have occasioned our stadiums.

With the World Cup coming to Africa for the first time (and maybe only time in the near future), let not Kenyan football be a shadow and be passed over by this lucrative opportunity. Can SOMEBODY hear me ****?

New Daily-Nairobi Star

As I type this, I have just perused the first copy of the latest daily to come out of our pulishers ( I understand this is done by Nation Printing). The paper -Nairobi Star- has the tag that 'Real Life stories everyday'. It will be an evening paper hoping to soothe the minds out of a long day and give some of us who love 'trans-nighting' something to chew on.
The paper is owned by Kiss FM (and Classic FM too) proprietor and frontman Patrick Quarco who said that, 'the paper will driven by the market'. Launched by the Minister of Information and Communications who said that , 'I am happy that this paper is being launched now, as it will encourage the reading culture among the young people', the paper will hope to cut its niche among other dailies more so the Daily Nation and East African Standard which have both existed for more than 40 years ( the latter more than 100).
I have some critique even before I have read all stories. Whoever gave the media the vibe of recycling reporters and article contributors I don't know. I have seen that two old hands in the industry will be making contributions to the paper. True their experience is worth having but again for how long can they contribute ? Again when a journalist is recycled for too long, they tend to loose their flavour and focus.
Of interest to me was the business and sports section. It's refreshing to have the paper commit 6 pages to sports coverage. The only problem is that it is not as incisive as promised.
Another good thing is that they have decided to focus on fringe sports like tennis, volleyball and others which may enjoy low coverage but can be enhanced. This might however overlooked once the mainstream sports return from their summer breaks in August and September in major leagues in Europe and US.
The other issue I have is that there is not enough local sports coverage. Make it interesting and captivating by having such sections as 'retro moments' or 'know your local sports hero'-(please pay if you decide to use your ideas!)
All the same, it's fair that they be given time to get their footing. I will not haze your judgement for the rest of the paper, I'll wish to reserve my comments for a later date.

Monday, 2 July 2007

NBA Drafts

Oh it's the time again to go harvesting and let's see who's basket is full and who has the tares and chaff while the others take the ripe fruit.
NBA Drafting time :
OK for the uninformed 'The Draft' is when the NBA teams which number thirty (30)recruit the raw talent from college basketball (US), and of late top European basketball leagues and Chinese too.
The 30 teams are divided into two conferences; Eastern and Western which are further divided into divisions; with
Central and
SouthEast making the Eastern Conference while the
NorthWest and
Pacific make the Western Conference. Each division has 5 teams.
Back to the NBA Draft, the recruitment follows a pattern where the lowly performing teams in the conferences are given the chance to take the pick of the best players from the talents described from leagues in US College, Americas,European and Asian basketball talents.
This year Portland, Seattle,Atlanta,Memphis and Boston got the chance to take their pick, and they did make it good.
The following is a list of the top 14 picks for the 2007-8 season;
1. Portland Trailblazers -- Greg Oden
2. Seattle Supersonics -- Kevin Durant
3. Atlanta Hawks -- Al Horford
4. Memphis Grizzlies -- Mike Conley Jr.
5. Seattle Supersonics -- Jeff Green
6. Milwaukee Bucks -- Yi Jianlian
7. Minnesota Timberwolves -- Corey Brewer
8. Golden State Warriors -- Brandan Wright
9. Chicago Bulls -- Joakim Noah
10. Sacramento Kings -- Spencer Hawes
11. Atlanta Hawks -- Acie Law
12. Philadelphia 76ers -- Thaddeus Young
13. New Orleans Hornets -- Julian Wright
14. Los Angeles Clippers -- Al Thornton

The interesting bit for me is that most of the picks will end up playing for more than 1-2 teams before really standing out on their own and even winning the NBA Play-off Championship ring. Already 10 players have been traded to other teams even before bouncing the ball ....see
The other bit is that enough of the guys are 'big men'-players playing in the center position,power and shooting forwards-well does this mean the game will in future be won in the paint ? All the same, it was a nice mix of Americans, Europeans(at least 15) and Asians(at least 5){ too bad Africans are only drafted by virtue of being naturalised Americans or otherwise EXCEPT for some Cameroonian ,Congo-formerly Zaire,Egypt & Central African drafted in 2005, can't we get our act together man ?}
Well for those interested check out the following link for more details

Copa America

Staying with things football, Copa America has been ongoing since last week Thursday and boy what a first 5 days it has been.
First almost all the heads of state did show up for the opening ceremony and showed their solidarity with those calling for the lifting of the FIFA ban of high altitude games. At least Pres.Morales seems to be making good progress...see previous post FIFA does have heart...
Day 1:
The underdogs seemed to have read from the same script and the favourites were in for a beating. First up was Peru waking up Uruguay with a 3-0 lashing. For those who watch football, Uruguay is the only other country outside of Brazil and Argentina that has won the World Cup. They are also regular favs in the Copa America, winning the title 14 times (last won in 1987). Venezuela and Bolivia played to an entertaining 2-2 draw.
Day 2:
. Upside down it ain't working still
As said the underdogs were not in a happy mood and Brazil knows why. Mexico did it with a 2-0 victory
The other game saw Chile come from behind to snatch victory over Ecuador in a enthralling 3-2 game.
Day 3:
This was goals galore day with a total of 10 goals scored in 2 games. Argentina -last tournament's finalists and 14 time winners showed why they are favourites to go the full hog with a 4-1 win over USA. No ill intentions but for the US to score one goal against Argentina and hope that they would hold till the end, sweet wishes ! Aimar, Tevez, Crespo showed you just why !
The other game was the one-sided Paraguay 5-0 over Colombia. Why oh why has such a team gone to the dogs ? Could it have some correlation to their other not-so-favoured reputation ? Or maybe it has clouded their heads and thus slow feet ....don't laugh !
Day 4:
This saw the first quarter finalists Venezuela seal a victory over Peru 2-0.It's only fair for the hosts to make a commendable appearance otherwise it would augur well to have them leave so early.
Robinho does it single-handedly
Brazil restored their respect with a hat-trick from Robinho getting it all 3-0 against Chile.
Day 5:
Mexico became the 2nd team to teem through to the quarters with 2-1 victory over Ecuador.

Methinks this is going to be some interesting tourney as all you football fans start looking forward to the 2007-8 season. As you can see, European scouts are teeming with pen and paper busy taking notes on potential talent ( as we type here, Man U has already gotten a signature from Anderson-Brazilian midfielder). There's also other managers busy checking out their new signings to see how they will hold up against worthy opponents. It's not lost to most observers that outside the World CUp this is the most attractive Continental tourney ( forget the European one,it's just they have strong leagues but when it comes to national teams, naaah they can't hold enough light to those in the Americas)
I would also hope the Organising Team for the World Cup 2010 in South Africa are there. They will learn a lesson or two especially on crowd management,security and also promoting the local and regional culture. It's of paramount importance that the guys in South Africa know some of these things man, the lesson from the WC will draw the future for countries hosting major tournaments especially those in the rest of Africa (with the exception of the North African ones-no offence my Arab brothers, it's just that we don't always seem to be on the same tournament at times-you always switch sides depending on which side of the bread is buttered !)

Keep watching though ...more exciting football is in store and SK will be there to update you on developments.

FIFA's resolves sponsorship issue

Even the high and might do get their strokes at times. FIFA has been having a few problems internally with one of its main sponsors MasterCard Visa. This follows MasterCard having sued FIFA in April 2006 after it awarded the coveted sponsorship for the next two World Cups to Visa. MasterCard claimed it had the right of first refusal on future sponsorship of the tournament, the world's most watched sports event.At the time of the settlement MasterCard said it decided to settle for business reasons and that it no longer wanted to work with FIFA.

Visa International has then reached a deal with to sponsor the 2010 and 2014 World Cup football tournaments.Visa said the 8-year deal with the sport's governing body FIFA allowed it access to competitions, special events and development programmes worldwide.The deal between Visa and FIFA follows a $90m settlement on June 21 of a legal battle between FIFA and Visa rival MasterCard, which had sponsored the tournament for 16 years.
I keep telling you guys, sports now is the next big thing. Look at the cut-throat competition that companies have to be identified with ONLY one sport ? As for FIFA, I don't know what to say...more $$$ more problems !