Tuesday, 3 July 2007

All Africa Games: Are we ready or not?

Ready or not! Here I come! You can’t hide! …..so 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!

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