Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Sprawling at the Nyayo Stadium

Flagging off of rally cars at KICC.
Last weekend was a busy sporting one and for those of us who love the outdoors,the skies smiled at us and gave the warmest weekend in a long time.
Starting with the KCB Safari Rally on Friday,for those working Friday afternoons,most of you had to steal a few man hours from your employer to be at the Uhuru Park spectator stage.As the organisers try to impress the WRC officials,this will remain a feature for the coming years. But unlike last year when most drivers hit their legs on the pedals, this year was a cautious approach as some didn't want to ruin their lovely looking machines. Kudos, Azar Anwar-Kenya,Riyaz Kurji -Uganda and Jon Williams for kicking up some dust at the Park.
As expected all we could see were the green and blue of KCB Bank along with peripherals of co-sponsors like Triton,Security Group,as well as the nicely branded rally cars in the colours of their sponsors.The event continued for on Saturday where drivers were penalised heavily for taking short-cuts to the Elementaita check-point (how can that happen with more than 1 driver as well as the increased levels of scrutiny? If it was back in the day I would understand but not in the era of GPS & all that technology!)

400m women hurdles at the KCC Athletics Meet
Come Saturday and my patriotic self made his way to Nyayo Stadium for the weekend's action. This was the KCC Athletics Meet.While some of us had mistaken it for the National Trials for selecting the national team to the Beijing Olympic Games, the organisers had planned this as a final meet of the KCC-sponsored athletic meets held across the country.
The event didn't even have a cover charge making me 'imbibe healthily' in flavoured milk as the scorching sun burnt us on the terraces. A fair crowd had gathered at the Stadium but the majority were athletes or former athletes. It was worth the while as the organisers kept feeding us with events which ran concurrently both at the field and track.
KCC had its colours all over the place making even some track commissars wear their pink t-shirts. They invited top Government officials to grace the event (and give long boring speeches,though the PM told us how he was once a then Kenya Amateur Athletics Association official-Nairobi area...I need to check my archives). Some finals had already taken place.But what I found missing was the top athletes as most opted to train for this weekend's national trials. That event ought to have doubled up as the trials to avoid burn-out and distractions from training.But this is Kenya -things have to go to the dogs for people to start pointing fingers.
Slow Afternoon:

Co-op Bank player takes a free-throw shot on the line
With the heat from the Sun,unless you have a fair share of melanin & are used to bare rays,I couldn't take the heat anymore. I strolled by to the Nyayo Gymnasium to indulge in a game I've always loved-basketball. These guys had the audacity to charge entry fees.On entry I almost walked back noticing the low turn-out.What was worse wasthe game itself which was like a loose version of street guys warming up. What could be an ideally saucy fixture had no landmarks of a cracker game( Co-op Bank vs UON Terrorists). I got really miffed with the last game being a walk-over to one of the teams as their opposition didn't have the courtesy to even show up! Lord did I feel cheated ! I tried walking back to the track event only to find the wrapping up things,damn !
It was a contradictory run of events to see the 'rainbow' of our sporting disciplines and events.Rainbow because when one is shining with potential the other is slowly dimming the spotlight on itself. What do I mean ? Look at athletics,they can easily attract attention and command some of the best revenues in the Kenyan sports scene.The AK Chairman even intimated to the powers-that-be that Nyayo Stadium is on land initially allocated to the athletics body.
Basketball on the other hand is struggling to find its place. The gym is never full(only when 2 university teams face-off) or when the play-offs start and still it is not anything to write home about. I didn't see a single to Kenya Basketball Federation official at the venue. The players looked miserable ,some barely having fed well to play with others looking blood-shot from an evening off their favourite drink.
This shows the lack of investment in some of our sports disciplines. Hey where are you entrepreneurs and game-lovers ? Can you hear our cries ?
I'll be doing a feature soon on the growth(or lack of sports in Kenya soon)Don't turn off the lights just yet !

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