Tuesday, 31 January 2012

GodSpeed to Kenya women's volleyball team for 2012 Olympics qualifiers

Having to endure some unfavourable training conditions and also seeing a change in the technical bench, the Kenyan national women volleyball's team is headed for Algeria for the 2012 Olympic qualifiers with the winners getting the sole ticket for representing the continent.
It might not be an easy call given the short stint the team held as training preparations for the mini-tournament. Seeing as Algeria and the northern hemisphere are currently having chilly weather conditions while the team trained in the heat of the tropics and to make it worse at times even on an outdoor court.

Unresolved issues between Kenya Volleyball Federation and the Sports Stadia Management Board meant the team had to make do with interruptions from the preferred indoor gymnasium at Kasarani. It is ironic that KVF has not found sustainable and consistent financial assistance even with its chair one, Jeremiah Kioni having been elevated to VP- CAVB - the continental volleyball body as well as sterling performances from top Kenyan sides.
This is also the first major outing for the new-look technical team which comprises of coach Justine Kigwari, assistant Sammy Mulinge and trainer Japheth Munala. This will prove if they have what it takes to make sure the team qualifies for the Games we last featured in 2004....(also wonder, how come 15-20 years on Kenya has no substantive woman tactician in volleyball especially at national level, over to you ladies)

All in all, we wish our ladies the best in conquering hosts Algeria, Egypt and Seychelles in the 3-day event!

National Lottery - Part of the Solution or Problem?

For the longest time, the idea of a National Lottery has been floated to help national sports committees to secure additional funds for preparing those teams out to represent the country in regional, continental and international circles.
Such initiatives have been done in more developed economies like the UK's The National Lottery or even the Nigerian one National Sports Lottery which was plagued by controversy after listing in Nigeria's Lagos stock market.
Lottery Balls- image courtesy of www.lotterywinningstrategies.org

These initiatives are usually done with the best of intentions but at times the role of these bodies becomes more intrusive than helpful to the development of sport. As noted in the Nigerian case, corruption and non-payments to creditors and winners may result in hurting the sports industry.
Others have said that lotteries are some form of 'legitimatised gambling' which milk out low earning people in the economic strata.
Well the jury's out there on what role and how this would portend for the Kenyan situation. But while the Government dilly-dallys with this process, there's already a private company undertaking this ( Gaming International). Here's an interesting piece on Gaming International's operations in Kenya.

London 2012 Olympics - Are we Ready?

This year's main sporting event the Olympics is starting to get much coverage and it is bound to get busier as we approach the July -August date. Kenya's National Olympic Committee was reported as starting some semblance of arrangements to prepare respective disciplines for the Games.
But this is far from the reality and the first month of 2012 is gone. Save for the women's volleyball team which was pitching camp at Kasarani and Nyayo stadium ( depending on which facility the SSMB would allow them to use), most of the other sporting disciplines are yet to start any formal camp.
Realistically the disciplines we might be represented in are Athletics, Swimming, Volleyball, Rowing and Boxing with the latter two engaged in leadership squabbles. Those which might bring in any form of medals are 2-3 but if the right preparations and technical expertise is employed 4 of these should reap some medals.
For the longest time, Kenyan teams preparing for international events have been under-training and the respective sports management bodies engaged in leadership squabbles, often involving financial help given to those in the team and also to secure freebies to such events.
The Government though pledging and putting in the necessary financial assistance and attractive bonuses, has not sought more transparency and accountability from the respective sports bodies.
It is tragic that the innocent sports people are the ones who suffer for the 'sins' of their superiors. While teams like Britain have been having their athletes holding their camp in the Kenyan Rift Valley, we have yet to get the camp of our national athletes even those who might not make it. Our sources tell us the Kenyan swimmers led by Jason Dunford, are hard at training and should pull a suprise amidst the traditional powers in the pool.
Boxing and Rowing we're still gathering information though not much is forthcoming from the respective national officials.

The Government of Kenya's busy working on other 'national issues' though promises have been made to avail at least half of the around KSh. 400 million required to send the team to London. other bodies such as Brand Kenya are tagging along to seek to sell the country as a worthy national brand not just with the traditional forms of tourism - game watching, beaches but also sports tourism.
GoK also formed a National Steering Committee to look into preparations of the London team and source for the reminder of the funds. This is an arduous task by any means. We also have the yet-to-be launched National Lottery...

146 days and counting...

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Kenyan Football - Community-based Clubs :- Is this the best option?

Sometime back as we were talking about things sports, we started arguing about what ails Kenyan football (besides the usual leadership wrangles...) and somehow we kept drifting in and out of the potent issue of community-based clubs.
Well 'community' here is used quite liberally because in Kenya it is usually mistaken for tribal affiliation. The reasoning behind this argument was the fact that some of the clubs that have flourished in Kenya seem to come from certain communities while those that are started at the behest of company workers as extra-curricular activities usually don't make headways. This is especially so for those sponsored by government bodies (parastatals if you like).
Community game? Image courtesy of www.firstgiving.com
We saw this happening in 2011 when a newly-promoted team Posta Rangers was suddenly left 'thread-bare' after their mother firm Postal Corporation of Kenya indicated they couldn't continue supporting the team due to 'limited sources of income'. This has been the case of others such as Kenya Airways, Kenya Railways, Motcom all which suffered the axe when public corporations were asked to streamline their activities and the first culprit is usually the 'extra-curricular activities or sports departments'.
On the other side we have the 'community' clubs which enjoy fanatical support from various communities in the country. These include AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia. There was also Shabana which was relegated and disbanded but is some form of resurgency from unconfirmed sources.

Community Clubs;

  • enjoy numbers - fans of between 10,000-30,000 per match;
  • have some form of mythology - historical milestones;
  • less encumbered by corporate pressures - run by volunteers/elected officials
  • have wide berth for sponsorship opportunities

But these same clubs at times;

  • are ethnocentric - high ethnic identity detrimental to national club outlook;
  • have unpredictable financial situation 
  • highly emotive fans
My argument was the fact that if we're to have community clubs then build them around certain regions and urban centres. This though is still not easy given the fact that most of the better placed clubs are usually based in Nairobi and Mombasa to some extent.
Given the new governance regions in the name of counties that we shall be having starting this year ( or when the national elections called), this would present a perfect basis to start developing such clubs. Each county could have a form of league from which the best 2-4 teams fight it for national honours. The finalists then would battle in a Western v/s Eastern regions grand finale. The top 22-23 teams would ultimately form the Kenya Premier League.
Out of about 47 counties, 20 of these have a semblance of stadia which can be renovated to ensure grassroot development of the talent from those counties. FKF (and Sports Stadia Management Board?...)seem to be heeding these calls with repair works on Kisumu's Stadium and Eldoret Kip Keino Stadium in the pipeline. It would be imperative for FKF to point the FIFA Goal project in such directions and supplementing this with Government funds would serve as an alternative to youth development programs in the various centres.

Some may ask how the current teams would be absorbed? Simple! Ensure that each of the clubs identifies a suitable urban setting and set up shop there. Last season we saw AFC Leopards pitching camp at Mumias Sugar in Western Kenya while Rangers have been rumoured to be approaching Meru County as a veritable home. Get my drift?
This way then the 'community-based' clubs might work and spread the game further into the interiors of the country. It may also not be lost to most that in each of the urban centres in Kenya, the probability of a big corporate firm(s) calling it home are high. Kericho- Ketepa, Mumias Sugar - Mumias, Magadi Soda - Magadi the list is endless...

Wild thoughts? My two-cents on what would be Community Clubs

2012 - Great Sporting Year Ahead

Well the Mayans seemed to have worked their calendar to say that 2012 would be the end of the world. In the entertainment circles there's even a movie titled 2012. Others have said that this is bound to be a ground-shaking, earth-moving and all those big words for the rest of humanity in the world. We at SportsKenya say this is going to be one helluva an year thanks to some big sporting events in addition to the usual sporting events held annually taking place.
Image courtesy of www.psdgraphics.com

First up we have the Africa Cup of Nations which is currently going on in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. The continental challenge may be without the big-wigs ( Kenya too) but there is always bound to be one shining star and new talent shining for Africa's own. Sadly this will be the last time the event is held on an even-year since CAF and FIFA agreed to change this to an even year, starting with 2013 (which originally meant to be hosted by Libya but South Africa seem to have sneaked this one easily).

UEFA European Football Cup
Well this is when the national teams from Europe congregate to crown the best in footballing talent from there. With some of the players nursing injury and with their clubs hoping not to aggravate it further, Europe will hope to see if current holders Spain still have it takes to retain the title. The usual pre-tournament favourites will be named but competitive as it is, suprises NEVER CEASE.
Football lovers across the world will be rubbing their hands with glee for the offering of not one but two contiental tournaments ( of course with the usual Champions League, domestic leagues to name but a few).

Olympics & Paralympics 2012
This is the big one! Coming to you from London, land of the British empire and home to the most pretigious monarchy in our living times. Yes Kenya being a former colony of the British are relishing a chance to show their former masters with matters to be taken on the tracks, pools and fields. The Britons will be hoping to outdo the Chinese is staging one of the best Games in a long time which is a tough call given the current economic crisis still shadowing most of the Europe as well as security risks which have become part and parcel of our every day life in the recent past.
The lucky charm though is the 60th anniversary of their beloved monarch in the name of Queen Elizabeth the 2nd ( who also shares some special heritage with Kenya having ascended into being Queen while on holiday in some nice recluse in the Central part of Kenya).

Well whichever sport it is that you follow, be rest assured we'll try our best to keep you abreast with what will happen, behind-the-scenes issues, facts as they ought to be and enjoying it while at it! Happy 2012!