Over the last few years, our analysts for this blog have been taking a
keen interest on university sports development in the country. There have been some interesting advances made at various levels we can reveal.
Mitch Ocholla-Player/Coach Strathmore University Rugby team
Going by the soon-to-be revived Kenya Universities Sports Association –KUSA (see link here), we can say sports development is about to witness a revolution. Though established years ago, KUSA has been dormant as most institutions especially the public ones engage in sports more out of recreation than anything else. With fairly good infrastructure, most of these institutions became ‘more academic than the academia’ and great opportunities were lost.
As far back as 1987, when Kenya hosted the All-Africa Games, huge potential was there from these institutions and the inspiration from watching these Games led to quite a number of sport s enthusiasts in some of these institutions taking up the challenge and launching into sports. University of Nairobi’s Mean Machine-rugby and Terrorists-basketball as well as Kenyatta University’s Black Blad-rugby and Pirates-basketball were some of the budding teams able to compete at higher levels of regional and national leagues respectively.
The entry of private institutions saw a small renaissance of sorts with institutions like United States International University (USIU) and Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) ruffling feathers with the former featuring in both hockey and basketball while the latter even managed to win the Division 2 League in 1999-2000 only for the authorities to back out at the last minute and boycott the Kenya Basketball Federation’s Premier League.
The 2000s has seen more private and public universities in the country and with this the number of competitive teams in the various disciplines can easily make a competitive league. Among them includes; rugby 7s and 15-a-side, hockey, basketball, football to name but the main ones.
The existing infrastructure can be enhanced and others developed, like the current development of a sports complex at Strathmore University. This can ensure good grounds for developing and nurturing our youth. The cohesion and time spent by students is good enough to develop competitive teams. Most institutions would also be well-suited to manage the games since they have fully fledged sports departments and sports offices. Why not even offer degree courses in sports – management, business and the world around sports? At least that way, we can eliminate some of the mediocre fellows running most sports associations and federations in Kenya.
We can pick notes from collegiate leagues in developed economies like the US where college basketball almost rivals the NBA and has proved to be a favourable hunting ground for NBA scouts. The same can be said with their American football. In the UK, universities and colleges have competitive rugby league teams and rowing teams which have developed rivalries which are legendary at many quarters.
Coming from the East Africa Universities Games at Kampala, this year will see a new chapter in University Games and Leagues. This can be the call for Kenya to start developing a stable and lucrative sports forum not just for now but future generations. It’s a thought ….