Saturday, 10 November 2007
Sometime back I was visiting one of the distant places in parts of the Eastern province of Kenya on a training mission when I bumped into some dudes purporting to be training to representing Kenya in the rowing competition for the All-Africa Games ( held in Aug this year in Algiers see……). I let go a hiss thinking that this guy was pulling my leg but I decided to check them out.
This place was Masinga Dam, one of the Seven Fork Dams which forms the country’s largest power generating project started way back in the late 1970s. I walked down to the dam and true to his word , I came across 3 canoes ( or is kayaks ?), I wouldn’t know I ain’t rowing man yet. These guys were going through the motions and throwing their paddles as if they were on some mission to the end of the Seas. I took time to watch them & I had to feel a bit embarrassed for my earlier doubts.
To prove that the Rowing Club is even more serious, they will be hosting the 5th Africa Canoe-Kayak Championships at the same place from 24th-27th January 2008. This event is expected to attract at least 20 countries with the Northern Africa countries leading the charge and South Africa putting forth its paddle.
A major boost has been given by the Tourist Trust Fund (TTF) which is using sports tourism to promote Kenya as a destination of choice, not just for its usual hospitality and game but as a sporting nation both by being a powerhouse in athletics among other sporting disciplines and also as host. KShs. 14.8 million (approx. US $ 225000) has been given to the Kenya Water Sports Trust to develop key water bodies with Masinga being one of the targets. TTF has also approved a grant of KShs. 22 million ( approx.US$330000) to Tana River & Athi River Development Authority (TARDA) to develop a tented camp at the Masinga resort to provide additional high quality accommodation to the tourists. Having been there before they spruced up the place, I would say, it’s one of the under-utilised scenic places in the country. It’s a nice getaway from the city hassles and also one of the larger man-made attractions. It will be a deserving site for the games as intimated. It will also serve the national team well mixing the well-tested nations with their raw talent and hopefully help select the team to represent the country in Beijing later next year in the Olympic Games. Having hosted the Cross-Country championships earlier this year, the country will be in the limelight again next year for the right reasons. As noted by the MD of TTF,
“……the championship will provide a great opportunity to further market Kenya as an ideal destination for international sporting events”.
Surely no laughing matter!
(Acknowledgements: The Daily Nation Mwaniki Wahome’s story appearing on Nov 6th 2007, Kenya Rowing Club’s information:www.magicalkenya.com)