KEN OKAKA: Counties key for sports development
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The sports industry in Kenya has grown in leaps and bounds over the years and it is now a common occurrence to see celebrated sports personalities trooping home to give back to the society that helped raise them. A sizeable chunk does this by supporting and sponsoring sporting activities, all in a bid to demystify the notion that sports is a part time activity.
There is a big population that has still not realized the multi billion industry that sports has come to be, and that it is now among the leading employers for both skilled and unskilled youth. The investment in sports today calls for more people to come on board to support and sponsor youths in sporting events thus giving them more opportunities to showcase their talents.
The national and county governments are key in this aspect. The two should take a cue from the sports personalities and do something about sports in the country and counties.
Nairobi county has been on the forefront in the quest to promote talent, by including some of the best known sports personalities, led by the passionate CEC of Sports Janet Muthoni. Her office is dominated by key figures in the sports industry in the country, including the longest serving former Harambee Stars player and captain Musa Otieno, as well as Dennis Oliech, arguably the best striker Kenya has ever produced. Former Kenyan international Hon. Hashim Kamau, Gor Mahia’s organizing secretary Judith Nyangi and former nominated County Representative from Jericho Leah Mumo are also among the key members of the County Sports Board.
Kenyan international Allan Wanga is incorporated in the sports docket in Kakamega County, Taita Taveta county has an elected FKF official leading the sports docket and Meru recently appointed FKF NEC Member Mureithi Nabea, Douglas Wakihuri and Joseph Kinyua among others as members of Meru Sports Council.
Other counties should follow suit, with entrusting sports personalities from their counties, country or globally with leadership roles. A number of counties have appointed officers with minimal knowledge of sports, which is an affront to this crucial sector of the economy and as a result they have lost a lot, not to mention sports staying stunted in these counties.
Developing sports at the county level is not limited to the appointment of sports personalities; infrastructural development is equally important, and Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho excelled in this area in his first term. He came up with a number of stadia in the county and is still adding more, while in Nairobi, Governor Mike Sonko has also taken a keen interest in sports and has already commenced plans to put up four state of the art FIFA standard astro turf pitches in the capital.
The Dandora, Kangemi, Dagoretti and Woodley stadia will benefit from this program by the county government and the works are already underway.
With the growing interest in sports as an industry, perhaps President Uhuru Kenyatta who seems to be an enthusiast of many sports and his deputy William Ruto should include sports and talent development as their fifth agenda in the vision for the youth of his country.