Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Road to Olympics - 1992 Hermosa Ciudad de Barcelona

Summer in the Spanish city of Barcelona is one of the best experiences to have in one's lifetime. That the IOC chose this city to host the 25th Olympiad and the then IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch came from the host country, was pure coincidence...
Barcelona '92 logo
The Games though were held amidst renewed promises of economic prosperity after the end of the Cold War which had plagued the 1970s and 80s Games. The following are the main highlights;

Cobi - '92 mascot

  • South Africa's comeback - after ending the apartheid form of government in 1990, the country was allowed back and presented renewed opposition to African and other countries which had enjoyed its isolation
  • The Dream Team - professionalism finally matched with the amateurs and the combination as they say was a dream. NBA 'superstars' were truly on a well-deserved Summer break. Led by Michael Jordan, this team easily won the gold medal in the men's basketball.
  • Germany came back as a unified state after East and West Germany's unification in 1990. It would become a force to reckon with especially for the indoor events. 
  • Following USSR's dissolution, a number of former Soviet states opted to participate under the 'Unified Team' banner and ultimately beat the US on the medal standings. They were 12 of the 15 states.
  • The Games firmly put the Spanish city on the spotlight as one of the best tourist attractions in the world, a fact that some host cities have not been able to exploit.  
William Tanui & Nixon Kiprotich - 800m Gold & Silver
Kenya would see its 1988 success take a dip, though not for lack of participation, more like other countries making the cut and pushing the competition higher. The following are the stats of Kenya's showing;

  • 2 Gold Medals  - Matthew Birir - 3000m steeplechase and William Tanui - 800m; 4 Silver; Richard Chelimo(the late), Nixon Kiprotich-800m, Patrick Sang -3000m s'chase and Paul Bitok - 5000m and finally Bronze medal ; Samson Kitur -400m and William Mutwol -3000m s'chase 
  • The 10,000m was marked by poor officiating where a Moroccan athlete refused to leave the track even after being over-lapped. Khalid Skah eventually won the race but was disqualified by officials briefly before being reinstated as eventual winner. 
  • Kenya as a whole participated in 29 events in 5 sports ; athletics, boxing, judo, shooting and weightlifting
  • A total of 49 participants represented the country : 40 men and 9 women
  • Besides Athletics, Kenya did not win a medal in any other discipline.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Kenya Rugby 7s - The Good, the Bad & the UGALI...

This weekend marked the final outing for the Kenyan Rugby 7s team in the 2011/12 IRB 7s circuit series. This season marked one of the worst outings the team has had in recent years. And though many would have loved for the team to make better showing this was not to be:
Willy Ambaka - Kenya Rugby not yet there...

The Good
First though, we commend the technical team managing the national team for ensuring that a wide array of players got exposed to the game this season. The team avoided last year's dilemma of rotating among a small pool of players and extended this to younger and upcoming ones.
Secondly, the corporate sponsors have practiced patience with the team which is a boon for Kenyan sport. Many a times when a team is on transition, corporate support becomes hard to come by but for this they have managed to keep up the monies - though we don't know for how long they will be patient with dismal performances...
Managing a transitional team is NOT the easiest thing and Mitch Ocholla & Charles Cardovillis have managed amidst a tough outing from the rest of the teams. The middle-tier level teams such as Canada, Portugal, Scotland, Wales and United States have all styled up and stepped up their game.

The Bad
The now-old Kenya Rugby Union office bearers elected last year came in with a lot of gusto much to the chagrin of rugby enthusiasts and managers of the game. Though there was need to infuse some new hands to play various roles in ensuring the 7s game progressed well, the 'rough' treatment accorded to the then technical bench led by Ben Ayimba was not good. The experiences they had were needed to ensure the team didn't start from scratch. They would have also come in handy with the team selection for the national team and a proper analysis done on each player after each tournament.
The fact that the officials came in trumpeting the fact that they would like to professionalize the 7s team, little has been done beyond the word-of-mouth. It would have served the Union officials better if they explained that they're working towards such a framework in a gradual process.

The Ugali
Though this was a tad bit exaggerated by the media, the issue of players' allowances and pay did come out. We don't know how far the Union has managed to work around this but it demotivates the players to find that their dues are not coming as it ought to.

The technical team at times seemed to be groping in the dark and out of depth in the team selection. It was never supposed to be like this for a team playing in its 9th year of the IRB 7s World Series.

Going forward though, KRU officials need to come to terms with the fact that there is need to infuse more professional and tactical abilities in the game at national and international level. There is also need to conduct continuous clinics around the country and within the residential camps to offer fresh talent and renew the abilities of existing players.
As for going professional, it is a medium to longer term effort which will need more resources not just in finances but also infrastructure; from playing fields, to feeder clubs from the national 7s circuit.
If Kenya hopes to restore its place in the top 10 of the IRB Sevens World Series, KRU officials the honeymoon was surely over a long time ago. Gird thy loins & work the magic NOW!

Friday 25th May and Kenya Rugby Union is reported to have disbanded the Kenya 7s team, both playing unit and the technical team. If these reports are true, then this IS NOT the way forward that we had recommended.
Also the intended hire of a foreign coach for the technical bench might not bode well for the game. We question why over 10 years of experience in the 7s game would not produce a localised solution to the management team.
A foreign coach, means more money, more time to understand the local scene and also less responsibility on his part in case the team doesn't perform at par. We all know what has happened to the cricket game, let's not repeat this in rugby PLEASE! 

ZUKU to air 2012 Samsung IAAF Diamond League Athletics series...

Diamond League logo - courtesy of IAAF
As part of improving its sports menu, Zuku has confirmed that it has live broadcast rights for the 2012 Diamond  League sponsored by Samsung ( now in its 4th year of sponsoring the League). With the Diamond Series having a total of 15 Grand Prix events which started in Doha on 11th May traversing various American, European and Asian cities with the final event being held in Brussels on 7th September 2012.
These Grand Prix events will be used by many athletes to warm up for the upcoming Olympic Games in London from July to August. It will also serve as great breeding grounds for upcoming talents for which Kenyan and African athletes have continually dominated especially in the middle to long distance races. The same will go for individual rivalries being settled by the cut of the tape. Further enticement from the organisers is breaking of world records in the individual disciplines for the favoured athletes.

ZUKU logo - courtesy of
Entertainment for you the discerning athletics fans and watching audience of ZUKU programmes will be happy to note that the likes of Usain Bolt, David Rudisha, Vivian Cheruiyot, Pamela Jelimo have already run in the first 2 events and shall surely be part of some if not a fair share of the GPs.
As Hannelie Bekker -MD Wananchi Programming ( ZUKU) aptly put it, "ZUKU is proud to be broadcasting the 2012 Samsung Diamond League and proud of Kenyan athletes. They are some of Africa's brightest stars..."

The remaining Grand Prix events in the Diamond League series to be screened by ZUKU are as follows;

  1. 31st May : Rome - Italy ( 2000 - 2200 hours Local East Africa time)
  2. 2nd June: Eugene - USA ( 1130 - 1330hrs)
  3. 7th June: Oslo - Norway ( 2000 - 2200hrs)
  4. 9th June: New York - USA ( 1500 - 1700hrs)
  5. 6th July: Paris - France ( 2000 - 2200hrs)
  6. 13th July: London - England ( 1900 - 2100hrs)
  7. 14th July: London - England ( 1500 - 1700hrs)
  8. 20th July: Monaco - Monaco ( 2000 - 2200hrs)
  9. 17th August: Stockholm - Sweden ( 2000 - 2200hrs)
  10. 23rd August: Lausanne - Switzerland ( 2000 - 2200hrs)
  11. 26th August: Birmingham - England (1500 - 1700hrs)
  12. 30th August: Zurich - Switzerland (2000 - 2200hrs)
  13. 7th September: Brussels - Belgium (2000 - 2200hrs)

Kenya v/s Malawi - 2014 World Cup Qualifier starts in Earnest

The qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup to be held in Brazil start in earnest in a week's time and for Kenya this journey begins with the small step of facing Malawi at home. For a start, the fixture is quite significant given that the Kenya Premier League cleared its first leg of matches for the 2011/12 season a week ago. This ensures that the players have had fairly reasonable time to train as a unit.
Kenyan Football fan
A second feature is the fact that most European Leagues have ended and for those Kenyans who were playing for their respective teams, it is ample time to come back and do national duty for the game. But with the unresolved issues of McDonald Mariga's refunds and the tiff between Dennis Oliech, EABL and Harambee Stars Management Board, you can rest assured the two will not feature in the upcoming game. Coach Francis Kimanzi will have the unenviable task of naming a team more likely to have new faces & local players as opposed to the over-reliance on the pros.
Third, we have the game taking place at the reopened and refurbished Kasarani ( or by the mouthful name of Moi International Sports Centre-MISC). The facility has ample space for parking, fans and teams alike as well as a great atmosphere for such a game. The venue has also been a good omen to the national team having played games there against big teams and going home victors in front of the home fans. Remember Kenya v/s Nigeria in 1996?
Lastly it will be a long weekend courtesy of a public holiday on 1st June thus providing the perfect excuse for the discerning sports fans in Kenya for a good weekend outing.
Thus said, all Kenyan football fans can show up and support the team to ensure they start on the right footing for the World Cup journey to the Samba country.
Tickets for the game shall be sold online for the first time as Football Kenya Federation tries to beat fake tickets peddlers and ensuring a more centralised and user-friendly mode of acquiring match tickets. You can access the site at and pay via MasterCard, Visa or Airtel Money ( wonder why they never incorporated the more popular M-Pesa...)

As of Monday 28th May, Dennis Oliech had reported to the Kenyan training camp at Kenya School of Monetary Studies for the Kenya - Malawi game.  Word has it that FKF & EABL had sought to clear the small issue of using his image(s) for the Tusker/Harambee Stars promo. Hope it's the last we're hearing of this and look forward to Kenya making the best of the qualifications to the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.

Statistics thus far:
Going into Saturday's game, Kenya has played 56 games for the World Cup qualifiers; won 18, drawn in 12 and lost 26. A dismal performance indeed! But as they say, every day is a new day and the boys can rise up and rewrite history...time will tell!

Friday, 18 May 2012

SportsKenya's Qs & As - Bamburi Rugby Super Series - Herbert Mwachiro

This week we feature the (Bamburi) Rugby Super Series which enters its 3rd weekend of action at various locations in the Kenyan cities of Nairobi and Nakuru while in Uganda it shall be at Kampala. We had a chat with Herbert Mwachiro – Regional Tournament Director who gave us a brief preview of the biggest franchise-based rugby tournament in Eastern Africa. Here’s the rest of it;  
Herbert Mwachiro 

SportsKenya: (Bamburi) Rugby Super Series 2012 is marking the 10th anniversary this year. Give us a review of what the journey has been since its inception
Herbert Mwachiro: 10 years of Super Series has seen it grow from a 4- team Kenyan event to an 8- team East African tourney mainly competed between Kenya and Uganda whilst Tanzania have participated twice.

SK: What would you say has been Kenya Rugby Union’s involvement?
HM: They are the owners of the tournament so their support is very much evident

SK: Successes and challenges in the last decade
HM: Competitive rugby, expansion into Uganda and development of universities, Western Kenya and Coast franchises. This tournament has developed players that have benefitted the national teams in both Kenya and Uganda.

SK: The game of rugby has grown in leaps and bounds but there has been concern over the 15-a-side game. Do you think the Bamburi Rugby Super Series would address such concerns?
HM:  Definitely as competition becomes stiffer and players and officials forced to raise their game.
Super Series 2012  

SK: What do you think ails the 15-a-side game and what are the remedies?
HM: There is need for more supportive technical structures in the form of qualified coaches at the grassroots level that will see players develop skills at an earlier age

SK: Kenya Rugby Union events including the Bamburi Rugby Super Series seem to attract quite some good corporate sponsorship, what would you attribute this to?
HM: Rugby is the fastest growing sport in Kenya and globally and the game has a lot of goodwill at present especially with Kenya being Africa champions.

SK: In addition to sponsorships, KRU events have attracted quite some interest from media houses including the SuperSport live screening of the Bamburi Super Series, Elgon Cup and even Safari Sevens. Your thoughts on this?
HM: This is positive for the game and will definitely receive more corporate support giving the sport much-needed finances in the long run and television exposure for players seeking to professional careers.

SK: Still in rugby, what are your thoughts about the 7s game?
HM: We (Kenya) have done well to compete at that level given the gap in resources with the more established teams.  We need to consolidate those gains.  Reaching the 2009 Rugby Sevens World Cup was a big feat and honour that should not be forgotten. Those players gave it their all to reach there.

SK: Kenya Rugby Union has been a fairly successful sports organization. What would other sports associations and related organizations learn from KRU?
HM: (The need for) dedicated and committed officials who have true love of the sport.

SK: Sports organizations in Kenya have not learnt how to use or leverage their sports with the media, e.g. the ongoing Volleyball club championships .What would you advise them?
HM: It is important that they incorporate into their organisations’ individuals with rich sports marketing experience in Kenya and they are there; tough (getting them since they’re) extremely few!

SK: Comment on the following;
Proposed Sports Bill
HM: This needs to happen like yesterday and with proper input from sports stakeholders
Rugby 7s at the Olympics
HM: Fantastic!
Safari 7 s in the IRB Sevens World circuit
HM: IRB tournaments are usually played at sea level but the IRB should be lobbied to make one exception in the near future.

SK: What is the future of the Bamburi Rugby Super Series, especially since next year marks a decade since the launch of the tournament in East Africa?
HM:  This is the 10th Edition and the future is bright.

SK: The future of rugby both 7s and 15s in Kenya?
HM: We are no longer treated as underdogs and should therefore invest more in our players and facilities and structures. The only way is up.

The Official London 2012 Olympics Film.'Sport At Heart'

This is the official London 2012 film from the London Olympic Games organisers with famous British personalities. Have a look and enjoy !

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Julius Yego - Profile of a future Olympian

For most of us, YouTube is a form of entertainment as well as watching 'edu-tainment' clips or the latest music videos. For sports lovers, it serves as a nice platform for catching and replaying precious moments in their favourite sports events.
Julius Yego - trail-blazing Kenyan javelin thrower 
Enter Julius Yego - this Kenyan athlete (... no, not the typical track specialist) had other ideas for YouTube. Participating in an event which has never been a speciality for Kenya let alone Africa, he managed to hone his skill and better his technique using this social media platform.
And true to word, his skill got better and his techniques won him the first ever gold medal for a field event for Kenya in the 2011 All-Africa Games in the Mozambican capital of Maputo. This he did by breaking the national record to a then new record throw of 78.34m ( he has since broken it once to 79.95m and attained standard B throw length for the London Olympics).
Thanks to his exploits and his parent sports association in the name of Athletics Kenya, he managed to secure 2 months training stint in Finland which effects led to his attaining qualifying standards. Hoping to better his throwing before the start of the July-August event, Yego will surely join the many sports men and women who have made Olympic folklore not just by becoming champions but also by the mere part of participating in this 4-year sporting extravaganza.
And he stills recognises the role that social media plays in his everyday life of ensuring he becomes a world beater in the throw sport of javelin....thanks to YouTube!
He's truly a Kenyan and African sports legend in the making. Here's an article from Chinese's Xinhua on Julius Yego.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

P&G London 2012 Olympic Games Film

This is a clip by one of the London 2012 Olympic Games sponsors, Procter & Gamble better known as P&G. This ad touches the right tone of raising up an Olympian. Have a look and enjoy!

Friday, 11 May 2012

SportsKenya's Qs & As: Hannelie Bekker - MD Wananchi Programming

In the first of our new segment for our discerning readers, we feature a Q&A session with MD - Wananchi Programming Hannelie Bekker on their huge sports investment in the Zuku SlamFest 2012 for the game of basketball among other developments at Zuku TV. Here are some of the highlights of that session 

SportsKenya: Hi and thanks for this opportunity.   
Hannelie Bekker: Thanks for the opportunity too and welcome to the SlamFest ride :-)  
Hannelie Bekker - MD Wananchi Group

SK: Zuku SlamFest 2012. How did this idea come about? Give us the background of why basketball and not any other sport. 
HB: Our analysis of the market showed that while basketball is loved and played on school, university and community level, and brands like the NBA command enormous respect and admiration, the sport is not championed in a substantial or sustained way by any broadcaster. From case studies all around the world we know that broadcast plays a huge role in building up sporting codes, and so we embraced this as a great opportunity to do just that. 
SK: What is the rationale behind the tournament? 
HBWe spent some time with Vision21 last year, exploring opportunities in regional sports. Steve Othoro, with his longstanding, extensive network in the regional and international basketball world, proposed the idea of a regional basketball tournament, something he had been mulling over since his return to Kenya. We then developed the idea together, and the further we got the more attractive it looked! We see it as a great platform to showcase the basketball talent in the region, to create a high standard of competition, to raise the standard of local sports production for television and, above all, to create a hugely entertaining and compelling experience for the audience. 
SK: There have been many interests in sports events in Kenya in the last few years, including the Safari Sevens, the Safari Rally, Kenya Golf Open to name but a few. Which other sporting disciplines is Wananchi (Zuku) looking to get into in the short, medium or longer term? 
HB: It would be unwise of us to reveal too many of our plans too soon! 
SK: What of local, regional or continental interests? 
HB: It could be any of these; however, I think it is clear already that greater East Africa as a region is really important to us; it's where we are based, our "home", so to speak, and we are invested in its growth and success. 

SK: What are your thoughts on sports and investments by media into the same? 
HBEvery media business has to make strategic decisions about what it invests in - and of course there are always constraints, especially around sports, which is expensive to stage & shoot. I think that where the right alliances are formed the combination of a sporting code, a broadcaster and potentially also business (in the form of sponsorship) is a really powerful one, win-win for everyone.
Zuku SlamFest 2012 Launch - Africa NBA VP Amadou Gallo Foll greets Richard Bell - CEO Wananchi Group

SK: Sports organisations in Kenya have not exploited or leveraged their sports with the media, what would you advise them?
HB: That the media is absolutely crucial in creating and maintaining a profile for sports, sporting codes and sports people, and strong working relationships between sports organisations and the media are mutually beneficial, AND benefit the public - even better, if makes fans out of them.

SK: Going further afield on the international sports scene, the English Premier League has opened up bids for screening of their games for the 2013/14 season. Any hopes that Wananchi Group (Zuku) would be part of the bidding process?
HB: No comment on that for now... 

SK: What are the 3 things that media consumers DO NOT KNOW about Zuku?  
HB1) That Zuku is the fastest growing pay-tv platform in East Africa;
2)That apart from very many third party channels we also have 7 own, Zuku-branded channels, that are managed right here in Nairobi; and
3)That we are the only triple play provider on the African continent!

SK: What issues would you wish addressed to making investments in media and related infrastructure in Kenya more profitable and lucrative for new players? 
HB: It is a well-publicised fact that we (Wananchi) think that the pay-tv landscape is insufficiently competitive. 

SK: Shall Zuku screen the 2012 Olympic Games from London?
HB: We do not have the rights to the live broadcast, however, viewers can look forward to excellent highlights, updates and round-ups, both on BBC World (who will be pulling out all the stops in their hometown!) and Zuku Sports.

SK: What can sports enthusiasts and consumers expect from Zuku Sports in the next 12 months?
HB: Athletics lovers are in for a treat, with the Diamond League (live) starting in the next couple of days and running through September, and promising excellent performances by Kenyan and global athletes. We will also carry live broadcasts of a few marathons (Prague, Stockholm & Beijing); the npower Championships are hotting up, with the finals in mid-May; we're beefing up our mixed martial arts presence and have just signed some interesting live boxing rights (details to follow); we'll broadcast 7 NBA play-off games, the wrap-up of the CopaLibertadores - and much more.

SK: Final words?
HB: We would love to hear from you. Follow us on Twitter (@ZukuOfficial), friend us on Facebook (Zuku Official) - we are keen to hear what you think about Zuku, Zuku Sports, Slamfest, or anything else you have on your minds.
And see you at Kasarani for Slamfest 2012!

{ Much appreciation to Liz Owuoche - SilverBullet PR for facilitating this interview}

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Rudisha & Bolt for a 4x400 relay showdown at London Olympics ???

In what could be one of the biggest highlights of the 2012 London Olympic Games, plans maybe underway for a showdown between the fastest man on Earth in the 100m & 200m races against the longer version of the 800m.
David Rudisha

Though nothing is confirmed yet, David Rudisha could most likely be included in anchoring the 4 x 400m men's relay and be up against Jamaica's Usain Bolt who's main specialities are the 100m , 200m and 4 x 100m races. It could be far-fetched as none of the two is a one-lap specialist but seeing the potential that it would bring in terms of viewership, prestige and national pride in winning an additional medal not just for oneself but for their country, anything is possible.
First off though will be making the cut for their respective national teams in the Olympic Games pre-trials starting in June. Then comes the tricky part of maintaining tip-top fitness conditions amidst the Grand Prix races and finally winning in their respective specialities.

TV rights holders and sponsors of these athletes would be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospects of this showdown. Let's see what comes of it.

Point to Note:
Remember Kenya won gold in the 4 x 400 m men's relay in the Munich Games in 1972. Can they repeat this feat by adding this world beater?

Samuel Wanjiru's Book Doodloper ( Death Runner) is Out

In commemoration of Samuel Wanjiru's life on the first anniversary of his tragic death, a Dutch journalist Frits Conijn prepares to launch a book Doodloper ( Death Runner - The tragic end of Olympic marathon winner Samuel Wanjiru).

Doodloper - cover of the Samuel Wanjiru book
This famous athlete who died under mysterious circumstances in the yet-to-be resolved case was one of Kenya's best marathon who led from the front giving Kenya her first ever marathon gold in the Olympics in Beijing in 2008. This has set the pace for Kenyan marathoners who have grown in leaps and bounds in the last 24 months winning major marathons across the world and breaking the world record too in the men's race.
Back to Samuel Wanjiru's book, Frits Conijn and Simon Maziku ( Tanzanian-born now Dutch citizen) seeks to tell the story of the life beyond the marathoner's seemingly rosy success that he enjoyed to a rather lonely and sometimes fast-paced life that the runner led outside the race tracks.
It also tells of the downsides of the success borne by this great young man who was immensely talented as acknowledged by athletics critics. The book comes at a time when Kenya is busy preparing her team for the Olympic Games in London seeking to retain among others the marathon title that Wanjiru won.
The book should also be a constant reminder to upcoming talent of the need to stay grounded amidst the glitz and glamour that their careers are bound to bring. For more details, see this story by sports journo, Elias Makori in the Daily Nation - Tragedy behind Wanjiru's smile. You can also follow Frits Conijn on his Twitter handle @FritsConijn for updates on his travails across E.African and Dutch sport.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Sean Cardovillis decides to return home to Kenya

One of the biggest names in sports-casting for FM radio back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Sean Cardovillis is set to return to Kenya soon. After setting up shop in the scenic island of Seychelles with Paradise FM, this sports-caster who was one of the talents formed at the iconic Capital FM 98.4, he seems destined to make a re-entry into the Kenyan scene.
With the media industry suddenly expanding from local outfits eager to improve on their editorial content as well as international media houses setting up in Kenya such as SuperSport, Sean's skills will definitely come in handy for his knowledge in sport and experience too.
In a status update on his Facebook page, he said " Today I have officially chosen to not renew my contract with Paradise FM, Seychelles. Destination 'Return to Kenya'...details soon"

We wish him well as he comes home to the Kenyan soil.

In case you didn't know his cousin Charles Cardovillis is the Assistant Manager of the Kenya 7s team which he played for too in the last decade.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Safety in Sport - How prepared is Kenyan sport?

The recent death of Aberdeen Shikhoyi in the rugby sport brought to the fore the concerns of sports and the safety or precautions taken for each and his own.
Rugby as one analyst said is a contact sport and as expected, there are bound to be injuries, concussions and at times serious internal injuries incurred while one is on the pitch. Same goes for other sports such as football, basketball and also to a lesser extent volleyball. In any case, most sporting disciplines have one or the other form of contact.
This thus informs the reason why it ought to be a proper consideration for medical and ambulance services for any sporting event, however small. This should go further to not just having medical personnel at these events but also proper training offered to the medical team that accompanies the teams or individuals. It is also imperative to offer First Aid lessons to all team members the logic behind this being, they will be the first to see or notice when a player is down or injured. That moment of the first few seconds or minutes can be a matter of life or death as witnessed in the EPL's Fabrice Muamba's case.
But while these are practised, it is integral that sporting clubs, teams and associations make medical tests compulsory on a regular basis. This should be effected at the start of the season, at regular times during the season and also while the players are on their break. Another practice that still has not taken root in Kenyan sport, is the issue of medical cover.
Insurance companies and health service providers have not quite endeared themselves to most Kenyans but there are baby steps made in the world of sport. This should be increased three-fold since as we have seen, the loss of a life or a player through injury can be quite detrimental to the morale of the remaining players and future stars of a game. Remember how the famous Joe JJ Masiga had to abruptly quit his sporting career, thanks to nagging injuries which if detected and treated maybe would have meant a longer and more fruitful career in football.
Going forward though, stakeholders in sports, insurance and medical practitioners will need to find a way of engaging with each other to see to it that the loss through injury, death of our sports personalities is reduced drastically. It's the least each can do for the good of Kenyan sport!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Tom Sears quit Cricket Kenya for Irish Rugby club

The situation of the Kenyan cricket game is such that its former CEO would quit in a hurry and opt for a less glamorous appointment as rugby club CEO. Tom Sears who has been at helm at Cricket Kenya for only two years must have known something that we didn't.
Cricket Kenya logo -
Its without a doubt that the last 5 years or so, the Kenyan cricket scene has not had much to write home about. The only success if it were was the launch of 2  'franchise-like' cricket action pitting regional teams in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to a lesser extent. These were the East Africa Premier League and the East African Cup.
These two tournaments have seen better development of our neighbours' games but nothing much to the Kenyan teams.
Back to CK's former CEO, the nonchalant habits of the Board and also lack of enough support from ICC which funds the international game would be some of the reasons Mr. Sears decided to head north. It will be a tough call for the incoming CEO to add flavour to the Kenyan cricket game.
Of utmost importance is;
  • getting the oomph back into club and national teams which seem to be rudderless and without inspiration to perform optimally. From remuneration to sponsors, these are but some of the issues that the new CEO should address;
  • two, there are international games that would be of great testing to the Kenyan game including clubs from Test playing nations or their 'A' and 'B' sides as it were. That exposure would be beneficial to the young men;
  • third, the current office has antagonised many former players who would serve the clubs and national team in consulting and coaching capacities. Engage them widely, they know what it takes to play in high stakes games;
  • fourth, as an Associate nation, its time we regained our status among the top Associate teams. This will need more than sheer determination and will but also enormous resources which a good CEO can and should surmount;
  • fifth, Test playing nations have been making a push for cricket to land back to the major sporting events like the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games. The success of Associate nations such as Kenya which has a rich Commonwealth & Olympic heritage would support such bids. Remember what Kenyan Rugby 7s proponents did for the 7s game inclusion in the 2016 Olympic Games?
  • sixth , there is the World Cup qualifiers and Twenty 20 tournaments coming up in the next 2 years. Kenya HAS to be in those two events by whatever means. That's a favourable yardstick for any Cricket Kenya CEO worth his (or her...) salt. 
  • finally, its about time too that the game got onto the screens of the local enthusiasts. Local and pay TV channels are always looking for local content. Yours is a veritable choice which is waiting to happen. 
 Mr. Tom Sears, we wish you well as you enjoy Irish beer. Put in a few good words for the Kenyan cricket game and maybe you can send in a few recommendations for people to consider as new CEO. It will a Herculean task indeed!

Robert Wangila - Africa's First & Kenya's Only Olympics Boxing Gold Medal - Seoul 1988

Road to Olympics - 1988 Seoul Olympics - 5-Gold Performance!

1988 is one great year for Kenya in many ways. The country was marking 25 years since independence from its colonial masters ( as well as 10 years of the then Pres.Moi...). The country had also just held a fairly successful 4th All-Africa Games in Nairobi which formed the basis for the success to be seen in Seoul-South Korea. Here are some of the highlights for the Games;
Seoul 1988 - XXIV Olympiad

Interesting Facts:
  • It would the 2nd time for an Asian city to host the Games, after Tokyo;
  • Only 8 countries boycotted the Games slowly marking an end to these 'shows of might' by the then super-powers.
  • Last time for Soviet Union (USSR) and East Germany taking part as independent states. One year later, the USSR would break into different States as would other Eastern Europe Soviet-backed states such as Czechoslovakia. Only East Germany which became united with the West to form German Federal State;
  • 159 countries took part with 8453 participants , a marked improvement thanks to reduced boycotts and renewed interest in the sporting element of the Games;
  •  237 events took place in 27 sports;
  • Kenya participated in 7 disciplines ; Athletics, Boxing, Hockey, Judo, Shooting, Weightlifting and Wrestling
  • There were 74 participants from Kenya - 70 men & 4 women;
  • (The late) Florence Griffith-Joyner - US Sprint sensation , she won Gold in 100m, 200m and 4x100m and also silver  in the 4x400m. Just as she had come, so did she leave the sport, dying 10 years later;
  • Steffi Graf - women's tennis queen won the women's tennis title to top a great year of winning the Grand Slam. Tennis has returned to the Olympics after a 64-year hiatus;
  • Roy Jones Jr, US light middleweight boxer, controversially lost his bout to South Korea's Park Hi-Sun but was awarded the Val Barker Trophy;
  • The biggest scandal in Olympic Sport history occurred when Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson won the 100m  in world record time then of 9.79 secs. Days later he would test positive for performance enhancing drugs bringing the curtain down on one of athletics biggest cheats. This would also end his bitter rivalry with Carl Lewis.
 Kenya's Stats: In unprecedented style, the country's sportsmen turned this into a Gold medal bonanza in a little over 5 days.
Hodori - 1988 Seoul Olympics mascot
  • (The late)Robert Wangila Napunyi would become the first Kenyan and African boxer to ever win an Olympic gold medal after knocking out Frenchman Laurent Boudouani in the 2nd round - no Kenyan boxer has come close since. Chris Sande also joined medal bracket by losing semi-final thus earning Bronze in Middleweight.
  • The two boxers were part of the 'Hit Squad' one of Kenya's most successful boxing squads which had represented the country in the King's Cup in Thailand, gaining valuable experience and winning 8 out of 12 available gold medals in the 4th All Africa Games held in Nairobi in 1987. 12of the boxers took part in Seoul
  • Kenyan athletes dominated the middle races by winning Gold in the 800m ( Paul Ereng), 1500m ( Peter Rono) , 3000m steeplechase ( Julius Kariuki) and 5000m (John Ngugi). Silver Medals came through Peter Koech in 3000m s/chase and Douglas Wakiihuri marathon. The only other Bronze medal was awarded to Kipkemboi Kimeli in 10000m.
  • 1988 would mark the last time for Kenya representing the African continent in the Olympic Games. The men's team had won gold in 1987's All Africa Games thus earning the berth. It was the end of an era for the game not just internationally but at continental level too.
  • The best Kenyan outing OVERALL not just in the number of medals but also in the spread of the medals and participants! 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

African Women's Volleyball Club Championships - Can Kenyan clubs pull it off?

From 10th-19th of May, Nairobi shall play host to the 2012 African Women's Volleyball Club championships to be held at the MISC- Kasarani Gym (if renovation works at the centre finally permit...), with 2 other venues on stand-by in case of any changes. These are African Nazarene indoor volleyball court as well as Brookfield Schools' court.
Once again Kenyan women volleyballers will have the chance to show the continent, why they are the leading proponents in the club game. This would be sweet solace after missing out on Olympic qualifications for the second time after losing out to the Algerians early this year.

Kenya will be represented by 3 clubs including 2-time reigning champions Kenya Prisons, regular finalists and past winners Kenya Pipeline as well as KCB. On paper the Kenyan clubs start as favourites not just because of their regular appearances in the finals but also because of the home court advantage.
They would also love to serve notice as to why they are still among the best in the continent. Each of these clubs have been in residential training and have recruited heavily from high schools and higher learning institutions to ensure continuity and fresh talent.

The only undoing has been lack of a proper professional league in the country unlike some of the North Africans such as Algeria and Egypt. The clubs from these two countries enjoy massive corporate support as well as professionalised services in their recruitment, training and exposure too.
The gap between the North Africans and also the West Africans is slowly closing and it better serve notice to the Kenya Volleyball Federation to raise the standards of the game locally too.
Last week, the Kenyan men's club representatives Kenya Prisons were bundled out of the Men's Africa Club championships in the semi-finals. It has been a tough time for the male players who haven't been able to match their female counterparts both at club and national level.

All in all, join us as we savour the continental game starting next Wednesday at the Kasarani gym. Wonder if any of the Kenyan media houses will choose to screen the games live...what say SuperSport with their SuperSport 9-EA?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Zuku Slamfest...a boon for Regional Basketball

As TV stations look towards sport to improving their content, Wananchi Group through their Zuku channel is adding more local content to engage and excite local (and also regional ) subscribers to their services.

In a first for the game of basketball, Zuku together with Vision 21 Sports Consulting - a sports marketing firm with its offices in Dakar , Senegal as well as Nairobi, Kenya - will air "Zuku Slamfest" - tournament to be held in July 2012 at the Kasarani Gymnasium. This event targets about 8 countries and it will be a show of talent and skills in the game of basketball. The winners will take home about KSh.8.5million ( US$ 100,000).
This is a big boon to the game of basketball seeing that FridayNightBasketball has been the buzz for the last season and going forward the Kenya Basketball Federation needs such media partners to heighten the game's reach.
The idea is also great for local content providers who will ensure that there is variety in not just the usual sports coverage, but also in terms of well-researched documentaries and events too.
Kudos to Zuku for seeing the sense in more local sport!

The Zuku team announced that the ZUKU SlamFest 2012 will take place from the 20th- 22nd of July 2012. There are 8 countries to participate in the tournament coming from Benin, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and hosts Kenya. A total of 16 games will be played by these teams which shall be carefully selected by tournament organisers Vision 21.
Wananchi Group CEO Richard Bell said that this tournament is meant to 'showcase local and regional basketball talent and skill and raise the standard of the game as well as basketball media productions'.
Preceding the tournament will be a documentary series Passport - with a tour of the 8 participating countries and reviewing the growing culture of the basketball game in these states.

Hope this is what the Doctor recommended for Kenya's basketball fledging fortunes!