Thursday, 26 August 2010

Promulgate yes, but you better change the Kenyan Sports scene too....

If you are in Kenya, the last few days (and obviously the next few too) we have the benefit of adding to our vocabulary a new word, PROMULGATE. All said and done, it is good for a nation to move from one state of affairs and mature to the next stage and earning its place in history for it's fairly all-inclusive, all consultative and largely well-publicised process.
While it is always fair to criticise our politicians and policy-makers for not making progress in some of the country's sectors, we hope the new mood in the air shall drive some sense into the very people we seek to engage in making our country a hub of sport and secure its place on the world scene.
We shall not celebrate yet, but shall join Kenyans in marking this occasion tomorrow. The pessimist side of things tells us it's a slow grind getting to the 'promised land' (with regard to sports). It also requires vigilance from all involved parties - players, officials, investors, corporate firms, media and all - that wish well for this very lucrative and unifying sector but often overlooked and under-estimated.
Mark your calendars people, 27th August 2010, we start counting as we hope to keep the promises to ourselves and the very state of Kenya. God bless Kenya !

Dennis Oliech's Auxerre makes Champions League matches worth the watch for Kenyans

Thanks to 2-1 aggregate against Zenit St. Petersburg , Kenyan football fans will now have two players ( and teams) to root for during the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League games this season. Auxerre confirmed their qualification to the UEFA Champs League group stages which kick off on Tuesday September 14th,2010. After last year's debut by MacDonald Mariga who's Inter Milan went all the way to winning the treasured Cup, shall we have a second bite at the cherry? Far-fetched but worth the watch.
The draw for the group is on later today and we shall see who plays who with the pots drawing as follows;

Pots for UEFA Champions League draw:
Pot One: Inter Milan, Barcelona, Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Lyon.
Pot Two: Werder Bremen, Real Madrid, Roma, Shakhtar Donetsk, Benfica, Valencia, Marseille, Panathinaikos.
Pot Three: Tottenham, Rangers, Ajax, Schalke, Basle, Braga, FC Copenhagen, Spartak Moscow.
Pot Four: Hapoel Tel Aviv, FC Twente, Rubin Kazan, Auxerre, CFR Cluj, Partizan Belgrade, MSK Zilina, Bursaspor.
(Source ; 

Related News:
Macdonald Mariga is hoping to use his current placing at Inter Milan to land European football scouts to the local scene. After the country's past dismal performance and with the current resurgence in the local league, there is bound to be some talent budding which needs to land our young players to the lucrative leagues.  With this it is hoped that we can challenge for continental honours and also be able to make a point if not qualify for the 2014 World Cup - I don't see why not !

Monday, 23 August 2010

Football Kenya Elections in October .....Lord redeem us from the Circus !

An announcement coming from the Kenyan football authorities notes that we have an active month in September with branch elections and the culmination being elections of 'new' officials in October. From behind the scenes, there is bound to be some interesting times on the game which is slowly making it back on our main menu of sports offering if the KPL games are anything to go by.

Our prayer is that we shall see some fresh faces and 'clean hands' if we hope for the game to move to the next level. Given the shenanigans associated with the game, no suprises if all sorts of vested interests start sprouting out of the woodwork. We all remember the 1990s when one Maina Kariuki - he of the Coca-Cola Africa fame who gave one of the best presentations of a contesting official in the Kenyan sports scene only to sink into the mire of Kenyan football.
His reign characterised some of the lows that the game would have and we all know what the story has been with the current officials. The positives have been cultivated by SuperSport who invested in developing the game and we hope they shall insist on some better management coming through especially if our national team is to hope to feature in continental and the 2014 World Cup.
We also hope FIFA's 'briefcase officials' shall not show their hand in these elections. They have been part of the problem insisting on non-interference even when the game seems headed for the dogs from the Government. They have not helped much even when their own FIFA Goal Project seems to be a non-starter locally.
Remember we have a new Minister for Youth & Sports in one Paul Otuoma and surely hope he gives us one memorable thing if he is to make his mark in this under-rated but full of potential Ministry. Let's hope to get some semblance of order and may the best win! More info on this announcement here.

Can Kenyan Basketball stop scoring in its own backyard?

This weekend, two Kenyan clubs managed to win the men's and women's Zone V basketball championships. Co-op Bank -men and the Eagle Wings  in the women's division are looking to conquer Africa for continental honours.  This is all well and good. But coming out the embarrassment that was the under-18 women's championships in Egypt due to age-cheating, something is amiss.
For sometime now, the local game has been under-performing due to the Kenya Basketball Federation's lack of drive to market the sport and see its potential in commercial interests. While other sporting disciplines such as football, rugby and athletics continue attracting sponsors, the game has not been able to seize the opportunities. While we are informed that there some efforts in the works from a team led by the Marketing team led by a lady and former player Cynthia Mumbo, a lot needs to be cultivated among the officials, media and concerned parties to ensure the game becomes a major force to reckon with.
The country needs to work with continental partners who can help improve our technical part since we shall be able to share notes with the countries from the region - Angola, Senegal, Nigeria come to mind. Spriteball Tournaments while always welcome should work to the Federation's favour and be able to nurture and expose talent to the best in the game. This is only possible if the Federations co-opts the corporate firms in not just sponsoring the one-off tournaments but have structured programmes from the high school level, colleges all the way to the club levels.
FIBA the world governing body has an open-door policy that should allow the local federation to bloom and realise its potential. There is also need to cultivate a more transparent office from the current officials who have not been able to endear to their continental partners. Tragedy is the fact that heading the Zone V of  the continental body is our very own Eng. Morris Aluanga - so much potential but little action since taking office for the local game.
Other News:
(Pau Gasol - Image courtesy of 2010 FIBA World Championships promo - Giants Get Together)

The FIBA World Championships starts in 5 days in the Turkish capital of Ankara and other cities in Turkey. The back-drop though is dominated by the USA team who's off-season trading consisted of some outrageous moves by free agents, Lebron James among others. How susceptible the side will be given the level of competition seen in previous championships means the ' Dream Team' shall not have easy passage again. Shall African representatives ; Angola, Cote de Ivoire and Tunisia give a good account of the continent? The tournament starts on 28th August.

David Rudisha 'rudishas' the 800m world record home

What a weekend it has been for Kenyan athletics! Not that we are never in the spotlight but this time, breaking this or that record. David Rudisha - son of another famous Rudisha (Daniel) who in his day was a 400m specialist and Olympic bronze medallist in 1968 - made sure that the record to the men's 800m 'comes back home'. The previous world record holder though Kenyan-born, changed citizenship to become a Dane before going on to conquer the world in the distance ( ....wonder if he qualifies for dual citizenships under the new constitution dispensation...). He posted a time of 1.41:09 shaving of 0.02 secs.

His performance in the last two years has been phenomenal and it was only time before this young Kenyan athlete to cement his place in the 2-lap event. He also drew inspiration from the ladies in the names of Pamela Jelimo and Janeth Jepkosgei. They have led Kenya's onslaught in the distance in the last 3 years.  Let's see how he maintains his hold over the distance as the Commonwealth in India and later Olympic Games in 2012 shall be.

(Fact: Even with all the pedigree in athletics, it is the first time that a Kenyan athlete claims the record...). For now though, let's raise our glasses to this true Kenyan hero!

In less than 6 days, a record that took more than 13 years has been bettered by you guessed it, the one and only David Rudisha...1.41:01!  It is amazing to break a record but to better oneself within such a short time, we are lost for words. Another running sensation from this beloved country of Kenya. Makes us feel so full of pride, what with all the weekend 'renewal of vows' for the nation!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Rugby 7s National Circuit starts...shall this dent Kenya's preparations to Commonwealth Games

The local rugby scene comes alive again with the start of the 7s circuit starting with the Christie 7s. This being the breeding grounds of our national 7s teams, conflicting information has it that the Kenya Rugby Union intended for the Kenyan national team players to be excluded from the initial tournaments to enable them prepare for the October Commonwealth Games in India.
Given that quite a number of teams in the Commonwealth Games also feature in the IRB circuit, the concern of the national office is an important thing to note. The local clubs have argued otherwise with some contenders such as Mwamba having 4 of their key players in the national team. With the release of the players for them to feature in the opening event ( there are 5 events in the 7s circuit proudly sponsored by Western Union), we do hope other players in the clubs shall make an impression to beef up the national team which in serious need of raise after the 2009/10 under par showing in the IRB series.
The Commonwealth Games shall also serve as a good curtain-raiser but surely hope the players do not suffer burn-out from over-exposure in the number of games to be played throughout from 2010 to 2011.

Nancy Lagat proves she's no fluke on the World Athletics stage

(Images courtesy of & Gladys Chai)
August 2008 Beijing : Kenya is quickly trying to prove that the Games are not a flop after waiting till the last few days to get a respectable medal haul. It being a Saturday, Kenyans were waiting for their captain to lead from the front - this was none other that Wilfred Bung'ei who needed to break his duck in the 800m by winning the gold that had eluded him for so long. To win he did win, but on that same day, Kenyans were treated to a double gold when an uncelebrated and usually quiet lady by the name Nancy Lagat beating a strong Ukrainian team which had looked favoured to win the race. She was only the second woman to win a gold medal in the Olympics for Kenya after Pamela Jelimo had blazed the field to claim Kenya's first Olympic gold in the women's 800m.
{that same season Pamela Jelimo won the Golden League jackpot becoming the first and only Kenyan athlete  to do so - it has since been replaced by the Diamond League}

Fast forward to August 2010: With the new-look Diamond League - which features 14 events in athletics (including both track and field events, across the breadth of Europe, a race from China as well as Doha in the Middle East and also for the first time an American GP event; among the favourites to win the jackpot is yes Nancy Lagat. She won 8 out of the 14 races and was thus among the athletes honoured with the first Diamond League Ambassador status.

What's more she made time to compete in the African Athletics Championships and won her speciality with ease. Much gratitude for her consistence on the field this season and also for returning Kenyan's own in the Grand Prix athletics series after Pamela Jelimo exploits ( where is this lady, one-season wonder or...? ). What next the Commonwealth Games?
I'm sure this might earn her a photo-op with the Kenyan Head of State, like Pamela in 2008 ( but thankfully any suitors will be sad to learn she is married to a fellow athlete , serves in the Kenya Army and thus she keeps all the loot....)

Paul Kipsiele of the 3000m steeplechase also shared the podium as a Diamond League Ambassador even after being beaten by Ezekiel Kemboi in this Kenyan speciality. Congratulations in order too. 

Friday, 20 August 2010

Commonwealth Games ....a Folklore past its Time?

A sports event of any magnitude is bound to excite the passions of the enduring sports enthusiast. The buzz that accompanies it too is supposed to be almost fever pitch and reaching climax highs once the event starts.
For all African sports or otherwise, this year has been really 'sportified' if there is such a word. Starting with an African Cup of Nations that almost stalled before it started, the 2010 World Cup, the African Athletics Championships among other highlights; the next stop is the Commonwealth Games  - New Delhi - India ( what they are calling, Friendly Games)

This lore started by the British to cater for its colonies or territories is supposedly the 3rd largest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games and the Asian Games *( this one is disputable) . In fact it was initially known as the British Empire Games!
Pre-2010 World Cup ,most pundits had initially expressed their doubts of the African continent hosting such a major event. South Africa shown the light for Africa and didn't disappoint ( proving even our pessimist bone wrong...)
 (Logo from the 2010 Commonwealth  Games website,
Fast forward the Asian sub-continent with India in the spotlight. Now this is one of the greatest sporting nation known more for its exploits in cricket, archery, hockey, indoor games such as squash among others.  They earned the right to hold Games and sought to prove themselves as the next frontier, after China wowed us in 2008 with its Beijing Games.
Allegations of corruption, poor workmanship and delays in venues are among the woes that the New Delhi authorities are fighting with. Word has it that the Indian Government might be felled by this event if all these allegations finger any authorities in the power allays. This might also cost India future bids for Olympics or any major event of its kind.

While we are not at liberty to pass judgement, 1 and 1/2 month into the event, isn't it time we wondered if these Games are doing us any good? The current bill that India incurs for hosting it stands at US$ 1.6 billion - easily making it the most expensive Commonwealth Games ever.
There are also the numerous sporting disciplines that have aligned their calendars accordingly to try accommodate their teams honouring their presence there. Rugby, athletics, swimming are some of the main ones. Already 3 major stars in athletics who would have featured in the Games have withdrawn, Usain Bolt of course being the biggest.

We also know of the ever lurking danger of 'terrorists' and their attention-seeking methods. New Delhi was visited by these in 2008 and has been a fragile city given the islands and aggressive neighbours surrounding the Federal State of India.  Security has over 100,000 security officials seeking to make it impregnable to these elements.
We also know the weather conditions that have hit Asia and the northern hemisphere. With some places recording dangerously high rainfall levels, and others having temperatures soaring into their 30s and 40 degrees Centigrade, it is NOT your sports person's favourite haunt.
Just like many other Games of such proportions, what legacy do they leave for New Delhi and India as a whole? There are many concerns that some of the venues may turn out to dumpsites and wasting white elephants ....
Regarding appearances as has become of such national representation, some elite sportsmen may opt to give them a pass. We all know there is nothing much coming in the way of athletes and sports people except for a nice medal and photo op which most can't trade for their appearance fees in more lucrative events. This makes the Games lacklustre, ensuring media rights become a hard sell for the organisers.

When all's said and done, while we join the bandwagon of critics (and not proposing any recommendations), it's about time we started calling it like it is ...on some of these Games.  Read about more of the Games here and concerns about the safety.

Liverpool's Legend Ian Rush conducts football clinics in Kenya

Having reported this story first, it is only fair that we pay tribute to one of the biggest legends of English football who spearheaded the technical team to the Kenyan visit.

Ian Rush is one of the heros of the Liverpool team of the late 80s and early 90s (though he did stints in Juventus and Leeds United). He was part of a partnership that sees Standard Chartered Bank shirt sponsorship benefit countries that are developing their football scene. He is serving in his capacity as Liverpool's Soccer Schools Ambassador, 'working with the commercial team to help develop and support partnerships with other global sponsors and brands'...source (Wikipedia).
For official info about the trip read more from the Liverpool site here.

(Image courtesy of