Friday, 28 November 2008

Heads of Government in Sports

Political Powerhouses in Sports
In an interesting article by Charles Clarey for The New York Times (which was reproduced in The East African Nov 24th- Dec 1st 2008), Barrack Obama is compared to current presidents and prime ministers or heads of governments who have strong sports pedigree and others who profess a keen interest in sports.
Having talked about this a previous blog article, I found it necessary to highlight some of the interesting bits I found and even discovered like;
• New Japanese PM -Taro Ado-who was an Olympian in 1976 Montreal as a skeet shooter;
• President of Nauru ( near Hawaii) – Marcus Stephen- who is an accomplished weightlifter winning 5 gold medals at Commonwealth Games and a silver at the World Championships as well as being an Olympian.
In the same article, its noted that Obama has buddies who he can play hoops with including Tanzanian Pres. Jakaya Kikwete, Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt and Montenegro PM Milo Djukanovic as well as Chinese PM Wen Jiabao who’s known for a wicked left-hand shot . That would make an interesting 3-on-3 team with 2 reserves!
The article even quoted that our own PM Raila Odinga played some club football (with Luo Union –later renamed Re-Union ^^?) and is an ardent football fan.
President-elect ( I’m getting tired of these terms……) Obama is also warned against engaging in any duels with such people as current Russian PM Vladimir Putin a well known Judoka (black belt too) and hunter, very much an outdoor and macho guy.
Check the article out here or in your weekly East African paper from the vendor.

Kenyan Hockey: New Team or Raw Deal?

Mid this month, the Kenyan Hockey Union held its elections and elected new officials with a couple of them retaining their positions. The chair was re-elected as was the Secretary. New office bearers were seen in most of the other positions.
I would be quick to congratulate them and wish them well in their future undertakings. A few things though need sorting out;
Hockey expansion programmes- currently hockey is played in Nairobi though there are 2 other cities Mombasa and Kisumu which even have clubs in the national league. Any plans for further expansion? In the same vein, can we distinguish between professional teams/clubs and institutional clubs (university and college) to provide a systematic way of graduating from one league to the other?
Hockey venues- currently we only have one astro- turf stadium at City Park, any plans for one or two more of such venues? This would aid in expanding the game beyond the city limits.
Participation in international games- our teams have fallen from grace in the last 20 years save for the occasional times we have participated in the women’s world cup and the junior continental championships. We can aim for the 2012 Olympic Games qualification if it’s not too ambitious or can we start with a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2010? Just checking
Corporate sponsorship- I have been to a couple of games at the City Park and other local venues and one thing is very conspicuous, lack of corporate branding. Being a game played and enjoying the support of the Asian community locally, we can’t conjure up something to convince them to pay a few Kshs to sell the game to local audiences and thereby afford a better pay cheque to the players?
Chairman Mr. Bain and Secretary Mr. Kiruma , that can set you rolling for the coming year.

Kenya’s improved sports coverage in South African’s SuperSport

As the football season in Kenya ended, a new milestone was realized. For the first time, Kenyan football was covered and shown live on satellite TV. SuperSport signed with Kenya Premier League a deal that ensured KPL club games shown in the channels of this international sports media organization, as well as international games pitting Kenya’s Harambee Stars with continental giants.
This week saw the SuperSport personnel reward the winners with their rewards for winning the League ( Mathare United), top scorer ( Francis Ouma- Mathare United) as well as a couple of media personalities including sports writer Charles Nyende (Nation Media Group) and sports caster Torome Tirike (Royal Media Services) for their contribution to the game.
Despite our usual wrangles in the sport, we managed to wringe out something from the South African who have pledged more support and look forward to signing a 5 year deal and even setting up shop in Kenya as Supersport Kenya. According to the firm’s CEO, this should help improve the game in Kenya and groom it in line with continental and global trends. This would also enhance sports coverage not just football but additional games such as athletics, rugby, cricket and upcoming disciplines too.
A plus for Kenyan sports and a challenge to local media stations which have not really caught on sports coverage (what happened to the zeal of attending local football matches by media personalities or was it a PR gimmick?)

Kenyan Event on SuperSport:
The 5th Standard Chartered sponsored Nairobi Marathon will be screened on SuperSport 3 on the 8th of December. This is recorded from the event held in October this year which as usual attracted a huge number of participants and media stations. It was described as the most scenic of the marathons as it helped showcase the Kenyan capital as the runners made their way in the City. Find time and watch it, I will !

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Bolt's wish for the New Year

If local media stories are to be believed ,Kenya could be entertaining the fastest man in the planet in 2009. It's not your everyday guest and this would be a welcome move by athletics practitioners and sports industry alike. Puma , the official apparel company for the 'new kid off the blocks' has made an intention to develop the current African portfolio.
Photo courtesy of AFP
In addition to the football scene which is well dominated by Adidas and Nike, Puma comes in a mean 3rd or 4th depending on which count you are on. Athletics seems to be a closer bet for them and with the Jamaican-Usain Bolt-IAAF Athlete of the Year- in their bag , they couldn't ask for better ambassador.

Kenya could also do well with a high profile sports personality since this year we have already received a couple of visitors this year the latest being the Serena Williams.

We should get a brief on what he does to make him the 'lighting bolt' that he is and hopefully, just hopefully have a Kenyan win one of the sprints in 2016....

300 and counting....

I hadn't even noticed but the blog's marked another milestone only in its 3rd anniversary. 300 posts and counting.....

Asante sana for keeping my sanity.

Tis a good thing going and let's keep it alive....

Thursday, 20 November 2008

African Women's basketball comes to Kenya

African women club championships started in Kenya's capital today. The FIBA affiliated championship will feature some of Africa's powershouses, Angola, Congo and Nigeria. This comes at a time when Kenya basketball seems to have sunk to its lowest.
This should be an opportune time for Kenyan basketball officials to engage with the visiting coaches and technical personnel to see best ways of improving the Kenyan game. Interestingly just like their counterparts in volleyball, the Kenyan women have improved their game with the under 21 reaching the semi-finals of the continental championships even after going to a tournament with an under-strength team.

Angolan ladies train at the KCB Sports Den,Ruaraka on Thika Road -Photo courtesy of NMG

The corporate involvement too has been wanting but I can't blame them, numbers have to be right for them. For the current tournament, Coca-Cola Kenya has decided to cool your thirst with a free drink on entrance. The games will be played at the Nyayo National Gymnasium due to accessibility though in my thinking, Kasarani sports centre would have been a bigger and better venue for the games.
With the KBF Play-offs taking a back seat before knowing the ultimate winners, the clubs involved had better send their technical teams there and take notes. Cameras and digital cameras are affordable these days so no excuses. Schools on holiday can send their players too to learn the basics of the game from Africa's finest.
Let's learn a thing or two and hope to see you all there !
Read more on this here .

Volleyball : Who's the 'Man'?

Finally the curtains are drawn on the Kenya Volleyball 2007 season. The year's been a mixed bag of fortunes. Starting with the wo-men, the individual clubs put up a very good show with top seeds KCB and Kenya Pipeline being dethroned from African club championship by Kenya Prisons.
KCB managed to win the play-offs thus qualifying automatically for the club championships. Kenya Pipeline and Prisons play for the 2nd slot.
The major misfiring was loss to the North Africans to represent Africa in the Olympics. Our ladies did give it a good shot but this was not their time. This exposed some of the weaknesses and technical aspects which will need to be worked on by next qualifiers.
All good so far.
When we turn into the men's game, it is another ball game altogether. Our men have become whipping kids for major countries which seems like some serious imbalance to me. What expertise do the wo-men who ironically are coached by men - from Paul Bitok to Gerald Lung'aho, Sylvester Kioko...all MEN ? That more fans flock the wo-men games than the men is a bitter truth that our men have to deal with.
That's some dilemma right there for Kenya Volleyball Federation. Who's the man ?

Monday, 17 November 2008

Kenyan Football :- Anything new ?

Now I'm totally confused and getting miffed even by the FIFA officials. Since when did you paint a red Ferrari blue and say that it's new and fresh and all that goes with it ?
Just as Kenyan football officials ( most who can't hold a light of innocence or decency) were preparing for elections in December, FIFA through one Ashford Mamelodi comes to Kenya and decides to change KFF to Football Kenya. This Sir doesn't end the wrangles and doesn't change in anyway the face of Kenyan football. It's just a change of name, PERIOD.
Looking at the directors of the newly formed company makes want to scream my head off ! Kasuve, Hatimy, Okul......we don't have better guys to run the game in the country ? What's the haste in changing the name and what use is it ?
I'll not even give them more time on this blog, it's making me lose my mind ####******!!!!!
See this and this for more detail

Friday, 14 November 2008

Serena's in Town

Image from NMG.

One of ladies tennis most famous faces, Serena Williams' in town on a charity event. The one-half of the Williams' sisters is in town with her mother Oracene Williams as part of an African trip for Hewlett Packard's charitable events of building learning institutions and equipping them with computers. The two will mbe in Makueni a small town about 100km from Nairobi in the Eastern part of the country.

Incidentally they will be at a hotel in town which goes by the same name, Serena Hotel -owned by the TPS Serena chain of hotels.

Additional information and photos from Nation Media Group.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Our Game : Basketball

Mr. Chairman,

This is a short letter to you for you and your esteemed office at the Federation. First I'd congratulate you on being elected to the highest office in the land relating to basketball. Your efforts from the academia seemed worth the while and worked like a charm on our delegates.

Secondly, I'll applaud you on your pronouncements that you will see the Kenyan teams(men and ladies) at the 2012 Olympic Games to be held in London. That's a mean achievement and the sheer pleasure from representing Kenya and Africa would be leaps and bounds bigger than anything that has happened to Kenyan basketball.

Talking of happening, what has happened this year since you took office ? Hmmm....there has been a quiet season with not much incidents. Why even the Play-offs have been quite a blip in the basketball calendar ? There was team though that was suspended for non-payment of participation fees this late into the season. I guess Mr. Secretary or is it Fixtures Secretary / Treasurer have been too busy to look into their books. Or maybe the outgoing office was not as co-operative. I understand they didn't even have records for the last 5 years in office.

Mr. Chairman, I'm informed that you've banned any alcoholic drinks,drugs and made basketball tournaments non-smoking zones. I salute you !

Lastly just as a matter of concern, do we know the average attendance of a basketball game in Kenya in the past season ? The Play-offs have been looking empty , I guess the rains have beat you hard even to make us stay away.

Oh, I also forgot, you were to launch a Vision or Masterplan for the game for your term in office. I'm still waiting for that in my mail,but you know with PostOffice Corporation of Kenya, they at times take their time loading our boxes.

As the boys go for their long holidays, I believe you can extend your stay in the City in the Sun to finish up on this business. Having won Principal of the year award, you can translate some of that magic into the people's game. And since Obama's happened on the scene, I guess we might have a gymnasium of international proportions in Kisumu before 2012.

Your hoopless player,


Friday, 7 November 2008

Yeah, Obama'd too

As it is now, everyone's jumped on the Obama gravy train and though reluctant, I've been tagged in in more ways than one. But where would ask on this blog ?

Well, the President-elect is an ardent basketball player with a regular morning regime of hoops to keep fit and get the mind off the expected busy schedules. Mr. President, I sure hope they have some hoops at White House, otherwise, you're welcome to the local court(s) in tow with the now inevitable Secret Service.

I'm sure the NBA has now found a good friend in the President and should not find it hard to fill in those arenas with fans. The Washington Wizards or is the Chicago Bulls better start prepping their grounds for the expected fan base.
Shall we also hope to see him at the NBA All-Star weekend or NBA Play-offs Final ? Just a thought !

As for our Kenyan scene, I'm still trying words to describe it.....but maybe I can go with the latest mantra and say YES WE CAN !

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Latin America : Can Kenya draw experiences from there ?

From official sources, a high powered delegation will be making a visit to Latin American countries of Brazil and Venezuela this month. The team is expected to explore possibilities in trade, agriculture, telecommunications, medicine and fuel. The region has earned accolades from analysts from far and wide. Brazil is in fact one of the largest exporters of food items with sugar, fruits and beans making a huge component of these exports. Venezuela's also a major contributor to Latin America's rapid growth.
What I found wanting from the main themes, was that no sports agenda will be attended to, which I think is disappointing. Given that Kenya's hoping to qualify for the upcoming World Cup and also feature strongly in the 2012 London Olympic, this would have been an opportune time to launch exchange programs for different sporting disciplines such as football, volleyball, swimming and even boxing.
Scholarships and technical programmes for coaching staff can be explored too. I
also feel some of the companies can sponsor one or two local teams in their visits there. Kenyan companies can also learn a thing too about sponsorship and support of sports.
I do hope the contingent can spare sometime to visit the Maracana in Rio to see what a spectacle Brazil hopes to make in 2014 as they host the World Cup. Who knows we could even become serious contenders for 2028 Olympics (sic).....!

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Monday, 3 November 2008

Sports Ministry gets working on 2012 Olympics

Last week saw sports administrators and some sports enthusiasts joined Government officials led by the PS one retired Col. Kinuthia Murugu, Sports Commissioner Gordon Oluoch and Sports Secretary Daniel Maanzo in launching the masterplan for the 2012 Olympics Games to be held in London.
The forum had quite a number of participants drawn from the different federations and sports associations. This was a ground-breaking in many ways and progress has to be made from this.
As has been the case with previous administrations,we play lip service to performances or how to improve them during our international outings only for us to be overtaken by events.
This year's performance at the Beijing Games can be attributed to sheer hardwork by most of the athletes and incentives schemes from the Government and private companies alike. But this is not sustainable if our sports people are to be a regular feature in the world map.
What's even more concerning is that all the medals came from one discipline with others close but not good enough-swimming and tae-kwon-do. While some sports critics will fault the approach, I will vouch for the same though with greater involvement from community levels and deeper pockets in the name of corporates.
We also need to have regular national sports games modelled with different disciplines aside. The KECOSO Games and such like come to mind . There should also be proper co-ordination and planning of the assault with the Ministry setting up both Govt technocrats and sports consultants to monitor quarterly updates on the progress made.
My friend Okoth Omulo thinks of it this way !