Wednesday, 16 July 2008
The year 2008 has been a bumpy ride for most sports given the sort of start we had with all the political and social issues arising. For one of Kenya's main sports heritage, this year's has had some hard questions raised concerning the game.
In the height of the skirmishes taking place at the heart of the matter in Rift Valley, athletes were put on the spotlight and some reports indicated the involvement of former athletes in recruiting and co-ordinating the perpetrators of some of the most heinous acts against fellow countrymen since colonial times. There were 2 former athletes who even lost their lives in the midst of all these. With most of our athletes having been recruited through the disciplined forces either police, army or prison guards, the suspicions and claims were bound to be raised.
Also given the information(or misinformation) in that period, anything flew !
A few weeks ago, the investigative journalists of one of the Kenyan dailies reported the allure of money that is making miserable lives out of teenage girls in the Rift Valley. This wasn't a wild allegation and top athletes have come out and condemned the acts carried out by the male athletes.
Along with this has been the issue of non-remittance of monies won to athletes by their agents (mostly foreign), as well as scholarship programmes for athletes to run in USA coming from Kenyan high schools.
What is going on ?
I will not offer much remedy(ies) here for now, but I truly feel it's time the sport had more spotlight shining down on it.
First things first. It's time most top Athletic Kenya officials called it quits. These guys have reached the zenith of their achievements and its time they enjoyed their trips around the world as pensioners. We should have more representatives not just for athletic bodies but also active athletes and retired ones too.
Coupled with retirement of these officials is the diversification from long distance events to short sprints and field events too. Over 50 years wealth of experience is good enough to fish is something good out there.
Make the sport more open and professional by consulting with professional corporates both local and international to raise the stakes in the sport.
Can the AK body and Govt look to develop youth academies with athletics being one of the main sport in every region ?
I raised this question and some issues are coming regarding the Kenyan athletics scene. Now another hot potato's been handed to a local firm which has been alleged not to have handed prize money meant for athletes during the Tusker Sport Athletics Meet last year. I'll not draw any conclusions but it's important for athletes to know that as they prosper there are many out there who would want in on their winnings.
It's also important for media people to stop using their leverage to incite people into rumour-mongering & also provide a way out of these messes. Though you love to sell your papers,it might do more damage than development!