Of Sports Legacies – Kenneth Matiba’s

In keeping with the spirit of localized sports content, we took time to pay homage to one of Kenya’s foremost entrepreneurs and influences of sports. Though known more for his political exploits than his sporting streak, his legacy will live to endure. Here’s to the late Kenneth Stanley Njindo Matiba.

In April this year, Kenya mourned the loss of one of its most astute politicians and efficacious entrepreneurs in Kenneth Njindo Matiba. Even more significant to this column, we lost one of the best sports administrators and visionaries the country has ever had.

Starting off as a senior civil servant, Matiba quit politics to join the world of business (before making a re-entry back to politics in the 1980s). His entry into one of Kenya’s blue chip companies, Kenya Breweries otherwise trading as East Africa Breweries Limited, his impact in both business and sports started being felt almost immediately.

The late K.N. Matiba tests the track at Nyayo National Stadium - Image courtesy of www.nation.co.ke
The late K.N. Matiba tests the track at Nyayo National Stadium – Image courtesy of www.nation.co.ke

First off was Kenyan football where he cajoled the revamp and formation of a new team to run the sport. This ensured that not only were the officials meant to be competent people but also accountable to both the sports people and sponsors alike.

As if to reciprocate his intended mission, Kenyan football entered one of its golden periods late 1970s to early 1980s. This was both at club and national team performances – where the AFC Leopards and Gor Mahias of yore won the CECAFA Club title and Harambee Stars the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup. In the same token, Matiba managed to develop an in-house team in the form of Kenya Breweries which would occasionally challenge the top clubs of Kenyan football then – indeed it was the foundation set in the 1980s which saw the club reaching the continental club cup challenge in 1994 – only to lose in the Finals to DRC’s DC Motema Pembe.

He had intended to professionalize football as early as 1978 while serving as the KFF Chair. Even though this never came to fruition following his resignation from the federation, he had aspired to leave the game with what would have been its enduring legacy. He handed over to the new team with the transparency and accountability of a custodian entrusted to run the federation’s properties.

To ensure his impact wasn’t restricted to one sport, Matiba assigned some of his colleagues at Kenya Breweries to manage the boxing federation. This was through one Marsden Madoka – as chair of Amateur Boxing Association (now known as the Boxing Association of Kenya). Through the latter’s stewardship, Kenya had its best decade to date in the 1980s when the national team, affectionately known as the “Hit Squad” participated in several international tournaments coming home with worthy wins. From the 1987 8-Gold medals performance in Nairobi at the All Africa Games to the first and only Gold medal outside of athletics for Kenya at the 1988 Olympic Games held in Seoul.

Would we forget it’s during Matiba’s stint in the Culture Ministry that Kenya hosted boxing legend Muhammad Ali as well as FIFA’s top honcho then, Joao Havelenge?

Talking matters Olympics, it was during his legacy that the Olympic Youth Centres were launched in Kenya. This was a youth development program meant to develop and nurture talent from all parts of the country. This program produced some of the best footballers who came of age in the 1980s including the likes of Ambrose Ayoyi, Davies Oyiela, Hassan Juma and Wycliffe Anyagu just to mention but a few. It is this breed of players who stood up to Egypt’s The Pharaohs at the 1987 All Africa Games only to lose by a goal in the gold medal match.

Kenya's Harambee Stars at All-Africa Games 1987 - Image courtesy of www.kenyanpage.net
Kenya’s Harambee Stars at All-Africa Games 1987 – Image courtesy of www.kenyanpage.net

The team had beaten strong teams that included Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions (who three years later made history in the 1990 World Cup in Italy getting to the quarter-finals), Malawi and Tunisia. Imagine where The Pharaohs are playing now? At the World Cup in St. Petersburg, Russia. If Kenya had only followed through with the dreams of the 1970s and 1980s? If not at international level, at least the continental onslaught would be more likely achieved by now.

Do you recall the Festival of Darts screened on national television in the 1980s and 1990s? “Gaame shot!” invoked one Sammy Lui Wang’ondu – who worked as Matiba’s PA at Kenya Breweries at one time and moonlighted as an MC on other occasions. For what would appear to have been a nondescript game, the sponsorship and screening of the same by Kenya Breweries popularized the sport immensely locally.

It introduced us to the English and Swahili banter of Michael Round-Turner and Dunstan Tido Muhando whose analysis kept us glued to the screens just before the English news on the only TV station then. Thanks to these developments, the Kenyan Darts national team participated in the 1993 Darts World Cup in Las Vegas emerging 8th out of 34 nations.

To other less visible sporting and outdoor activities including the Outward Bound and Hodari Boys Club – which sought to nurture young boys in their teens to formidable young men to the mountaineering club which did became an obsession to the man, Kenneth Matiba did it all. From snow-capped mountains of Equatorial Africa in Mt. Kenya and Kilimanjaro in Africa to Mt. Everest on the challenging and tall ranges of Himalayas in Asia. For him, it was not enough to put money into sports but rather put money where his mouth was. He did walk his talk, quite literally!

His lessons in sports business and management ought to be chronicled in the annals of Kenyan sport.  He managed to convince the sports federations to style up and clean house.  His was investing in sport but also ensuring the monies put into sports were well spent and sports persons rewarded for their performances.  Our current state of sport in the country is dire need of such a visionary.

Sports federations have been riding roughshod over sports teams and athletes. How do we explain the sad tale of two of Kenya’s top teams who still can’t afford to pay their players on a monthly basis? Why do the clubs have to depend on a single sponsor who whenever it doesn’t suit their needs withdraws sponsorship on a whim? How many times will we keep hearing of unpaid allowances and bonuses for teams on national duty?

Even with the enactment of the Sports Bill, the magic bullet that we have waited for to change and transform sports in Kenya is still a nonstarter. Two Cabinet Secretaries later, the National Sports Lottery is still a cropper even as our athletes keep bringing honor to this nation – at amateur, semi-professional and professional levels. We have seen divestiture by companies from sports on mismanagement of the sponsorship monies as well as increased costs of doing business – Naspers SuperSport comes to mind. If I were to list the companies that have offered to sponsor sports but give it a wide berth due to mismanagement and lack of foresight, I’d run out of space on this article.

What can we learn from the late Matiba?

For starters, sports federations have to learn to operate within the confines of their respective laws and those of the land. Transparency and accountability ought to be second nature to the daily operations.

  • To sports officials, the sports discipline is about the athletes or players – never about you. Let your actions and decisions be the yardstick by which the sporting fraternity uses to judge your performance. Your legacy should speak for itself not weekly press briefings.
  • To Kenyan corporates, put your money where your mouth is. Choose a sport, research well and be invested for the long-haul. The sporadic and measly sponsorships to get good mentions and media mileage will not fly.
  • Still on investment in sport, it should not be an afterthought and peppered CSR activities that brand managers run for. Offer the time, experience and skills to run sport like a business – for we ought to be in the business of sports in this century.
  • To sports athletes, players and coaches discipline, focus and leadership where needed will ensure success of your respective sports disciplines. In the crazy millennium that is the 21st century, yours isn’t an enviable task but it’s the one thing that you have chosen to do – do it well.
  • With his stints in both Kenyan football and other sporting activities, as well as his stint in the Ministry of Culture and Social Services, he served his country diligently. Though brief, the legacies left in respective disciplines are more than we can share here.

God bless Matiba’s time with us, rest in sport brave warrior!

Commonwealth Games – Glasgow : Kenya’s Gold, Bleed and Ugly

2014 and it is exactly 60 years since a Kenyan sports personality made it to any international sporting event! And this event was the Commonwealth Games in 1954 ( had previously been known as British Empire Games).

Glasgow 2014 – image courtesy of glasgow.com

With such rich heritage and a storied past, the 2014 edition ought to have been a done deal for Kenyan sport but alas! It is another skewed performance from a contingent of 169 athletes and officials. A misnomer of the Commonwealth Games is that fierce competitors, Ethiopia and other North African countries do not participate.
But even without these countries, Glasgow exposed the scope of Kenya’s famed athletes. Out of the 13 disciplines, only 3 managed to get to the podium.

Stand-Outs: 

  1. Julius Yego – Javelin Gold standard – first ever field event Gold
    medal in major c’ships. Even without proper training facilities and technical support he keeps getting better;
Julius Yego – Golden Throw – www.getty.com

2. Eunice Sum – 800m – she’s the reigning world champ and she turned up for the another sterling performance;3. Caleb Ndiku – 5000m – coming of age, he was named 2010 SOYA
most promising athlete and showed why. Exit Ezekiel Kemboi too we have another performer…

Disappointments:

David Rudisha – 800m Silver – World/Olympic
champ & WR holder, we expected nothing short of Gold, even with a poor season so far;

Jason Dunford – Swimming – he finally admitted
frustrations/lack of Kenya’s Swimming Federation support ( and no officials are sacked..???);

Kenya 7s team – after finishing 2nd
in the table standings in the preliminaries, they met their match in New Zealand who ended our first rugby Commonwealth medal chances

Special Mentions:

  1. Conrad Nkanata – US-based sprinter – finished 3rd
    in his 200m heat, with proper training he can be a future sprinter;
  2. Benson Gicharu – Boxer – even with time running
    out for his amateur boxing career, he is still punching it out at major sports
    events

Kenya Sports (Mis)management:

The charade of Kenyan officials in managing the team
continued. First it was delayed allowances due to athletes. Second was the kit
issue with missing or delayed kit to Team Kenya.  Third was late accreditation which meant
missed attendance by cyclist, David Kinjah among others. Fourth and it’s truly
out of personal frustration was lack of technical/financial support as well as
favouritism in team selection. These last were raised not just by
non-traditional disciplines but also swimmers such as Jason Dunford who may
have had his swansong representing the country in any sport.

Golden Girls – 3000m s’chase Kenyan trio

We have said this before and shall repeat it for the
umpteenth time. Kenya’s sport management needs to change RADICALLY! Why have more than 10 disciplines and only 2-3
have any chance of winning medals? Can more investment be made on a few of
these or if all disciplines are represented, get proper exposure to have
winning chance(s).

  •    Kitting
    – what business goes on with kit which has been acquired for national duty? Why
    should some official conveniently forget to order this in time? Other times
    they issue it to non-participants or stock it in local shops. Sponsors should
    also review such misdemeanor and cancel contracts for misallocated kits.
  •    Allowances
    – we saw the embarrassment of African teams in World Cup. It did not even take
    a month before our own officials replicated that same template. Why should
    individual be charged with responsibility of managing team finances? In future
    all participants should supply account details and monies sent direct to them
    like regular pay.
  •    Size of
    squad
    – how many officials are really needed to attend international events
    even when their disciplines have no chance of winning a bronze medal?
    Participation should be on how successful a sport is at regional, continental
    or international duty.
  •    Technical/Financial
    details
    – for most disciplines Kenya has lost a semblance of international
    standards. From boxing, swimming to even some athletics events, the edge of
    advances in technical knowledge is lacking. Spotlight is on sports federations’
    internal wrangles and lack of international best practice to compete at such
    levels.
As usual we shall be treated to excuses and made to forget what has become perennial under-achieving by our national team(s). As a nation,we need to demand accountability from those in charge of our sports bodies. The Government must also stop playing deaf and be more forceful in getting officials to straighten their act. 
It is no wonder that most athletes prefer running in Grand Prix events, others opting to quit even before their prime as a frustrated lot. See what is happening to the football fraternity? 

World Relays gives Kenyan Athletes ‘Golden Shine’

This past weekend marked the inaugural World Relays under the auspices of IAAF hosted in the Caribbean island of Bahamas ( the natives called Bahamians, more like Bohemian Rhapsody…I digress).

World Relays Bahamas 2014 – image courtesy of www.iaaf.org

The 2-day event had some really good action for any sports and athletics enthusiasts. Stealing some of the attention for the more popular football (soccer in other quarters), was a huge gamble but for those few moments the Championships produced some sparkle. The c’ships had 10 events billed as the Golden Baton which included the more common and widely accepted

  • 4 x 100m ( both men and women)
  • 4 x 400m 
But also other races including;
  • 4 x 200m  or 2 lap event
  • 4 x 800m or 8-lap event
  • 4 x 1500m or 15-lap event.
As expected some athletics powerhouses such as the US and Jamaica sent strong teams especially in the short(er) sprints. Kenya too sent very strong teams in what were expected to be its specialties in the middle races. After what might have been a fiasco in national team selection, the team redeemed itself winning 3 out of its targeted 4 Gold medals and each of those in World Record times. There was also special mention of the 4 x 400m Kenyan men’s team which featured in the Final B ending up in the tail end of the proceedings. 
A few lessons too could be taken by the Kenyans from these Games;
a) Preparations – The national selection method employed by Athletics Kenya was not the most scientific and suited for this purpose. This led to an almost disjointed effort in preparing the team for the c’ships. In future, it would not hurt to make proper preparations for national selection and onward camp for participants.
b) Tactics– while we may not have been with the coaches and managers, some of the tactics employed  cost the team valuable points and wins. For example, the 4 x 800m women’s race decision to run a fairly inexperienced Busienei in the first leg saw Kenya lose her position to lead and ultimately play catch up to the US team. 
c) More Country representation – being the inaugural c’ships not every country was able to send representatives and some sent some more junior and inexperienced runners. Beijing in 2015, you can be sure it will not be a walk-over even for Kenya even in the middle races that we seem to have such a stronghold. Ethiopia, Algeria, Morocco and even Uganda will want to prove a point or two. We saw what is happening in the marathons and 10K races in other championships. And it is not just the Africans breathing down the necks of Kenyans, Russia, Romania and other European countries always fancy challenging Kenyan athletes.
Kenya’s 4 x 1500m Women’s team image courtesy of www.iaaf.org
d) Track and Field Clubs – while Kenya has traditionally had no problem in producing talent especially for the middle and long distances, our performances in the shorter races of 400m, 200m and 100m have been dismal. Save for the occasional suprise in the 400m, the others don’t seem to feature in our calendar. 
One way of encouraging this is forming running/sprint clubs that can be situated in 2-3 cities in the country. Rigorous training and exposure will see us in good stead. Investing in the necessary infrastructure such as tartan running tracks, gyms, sports scientists and nutritionists is integral too. The US has Santa Monica Track Club(which produced among others sprint legend Carl Lewis), Jamaica has the MVP Track and Field Club
(with women sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser in its stable). Why can’t Kenya invest in one too?
e) Reward System – though this has been ongoing with the gold medal winners in major games such as Olympics and Commonwealth getting national honours, more can be done to earn our athletes their worth. The mileage enjoyed by their participation and winning is more than the fancy budgets and trips that tourism officials seek to justify for their activities. There has been talk of an Athletics Hall of Fame by Athletics Kenya but this ought to be a public-private partnership by all parties concerned.
For now let’s enjoy the shine of winning 3 Gold medals and records to boot. In 2015, I don’t see why Kenya should not bag 4 Gold medals and Bronze or two in the shorter races. Optimistic perhaps? 

Quick recap:
Kenya won Gold in the 4 x 800m (men), 4 x 1500m (men and women) and Silver in 4 x 800m (women).
In Related News:
When Safaricom Limited announced that it had secured the naming rights of Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi,  its current CEO Bob Collymore intimated that one of the areas of focus would be investing in the shorter races. This was echoing earlier sentiments made in 2012 when he was awarding the Olympic heroes. True to their word, the company sponsored the National Relay series which almost ended in confusion after Athletics Kenya couldn’t agree on a proper formula for the competition. In future, national associations should have proper blueprints for events such as this. Having secured funding and sponsorship such as Safaricom’s makes it easier to consult experts and host more successful events. 
For future Relay events, Athletics Kenya can do better by letting the respective branches come up with teams which can then compete at the series of trials in Nairobi and any other city deemed suitable. This will not only attract new talent but also expose potential athletes to specialisations beyond the individual races they usually do.
As for Safaricom Limited, your investment may start bearing fruit sooner than expected…

2014 thus far, Kenya’s Sports dwindling influence?

This year started with a lot of optimism given that the then newly elected Government had come with a basket full of promises…pardon my pessismist self who takes politicos and sports officials with a pinch of salt.
Well they had even the Sports Bill which was finally passed last year to provide grounds for new dawn in Kenyan sports. But alas!
Starting with the people’s game of football, Kenyan clubs were bundled out of the pre-qualifying stages of continental club championships. That it was Kenya’biggest clubs reduced to cheer leaders tells a lot of what needs to be done to the same. This showed the need to streamline club activity in Kenya.
Onto to athletics, even though Kenyan athletes made a good showing at the continental championships in Kampala, our rivals in Ethiopia and other East African countries are no longer shoo-ins to be taken for granted. An interesting observation too must be made on our long distance runners especially marathon. While Kenyan has a wealth of talent, their margin of success is restricted to 2-3 wins before fading off. Look at Ethiopia, the same athletes who ran the 5K & 10K have now switched to the half and full marathons…it’s only a matter of time…
Volleyball, and our Kenyan ladies have always been continental queens….? Well not anymore! Losing the North Africans, our sisters were given a reality check on what other countries have been doing and are capable of doing. There has also been such a disconnect between continental and world championships. Kenya has performed dismally in the latter and Kenya Volleyball Federation doesn’t have clue of what to do.
Cricket, oh the Englishman’s game! Well Kenya has sunk so low, that we couldn’t qualify for the Twenty 20 tournament played by both Test and non-Test nations.  What is more worrying is that our neighbours Uganda and Rwanda are developing better teams and it’s only a matter of time before we are dethroned.
As for rugby,  it’s a mixed bag with the 7s team tempering our expectations while the 15s side  made small but significant strides in South Africa as we wait for the Worl Cup qualifiers later thus year.
Boxing too is reporting a  bit of life after being knocked out for several years off the national sports agenda.

  • What has been symptomatic across the board is lethargic sports officials.  We have been there before on the need to elect pragmatic officials.  It’s an ideal situation but tenable for some if not majority of the sports bodies. 
  • Laxity from the Government.  While some sports associations behave like untouchables, they’re more that the Secretary of Sports and Culture can do than the mere pronouncements.  For starters, invoking the Sports Bill and its statutes is one way. 
  • Accountability – audits on the sports bodie should be regular and recommendations acted upon. This should be from both Government and sponsoring companies.  When players go on national duty and come back without having been paid their allowances is an abomination in this time and age. 
  • International best practices – when our sports people participate in international events, what do they learn? Or are they busy visitng other less important business as opposed to taking notes on their call of duty? 
There’s still the second half of the year to look forward to and hope that there are better and sterling performances.  The list below shows some of the sporting events to look out for; 
  • Commonwealth Games
  • IRB Rugby series 2014/15 
  • IAAF Grand Prix meets 
  • World Cup qualifiers (rugby)
  • Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers

Sports Secretary Dr. Hassan A. Wario – An Oath for Kenyan Sports

Daktari you must be now have learnt how to manoeuvre traffic in and around the KenCom house which houses your Ministry carved back into the Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs. We also remember your own words about the capacities of Culture and Arts being your forte but Sports not such a knowledgeable affair to you ( the ‘corrupt’ and those for the status quo must have smiled and winked at each other…).

First order of the day is to read and re-read the new Sports Act which was passed (thanks in part to your predecessor) earlier this year. Carry copies in you car,since now you’re chauffeured into office, get it on your i-Pad or whatever gadget tickles your fancy. Get the technocrats in your Ministry to break down those technical terms and on a regular basis, consult widely with sports stakeholders not just officials in their respective sports organisations. This will serve you in good stead in the coming 4-5 years depending on when the mandate of this government ends.

Secondly, do ensure that as the Act prescribes ALL sports bodies – federations, associations or unions – carry the intended elections. We have a couple which have already been in abidance with that rule ( though majority were merely rubber-stamping the status quo). Keep these bodies in check by requiring regular reports and budgets review and where applicable ensure those not towing or keeping with the mandate of their bodies, chase them and sacrifice on the high altar of the rule of law. There needs to be a few heads rolling every now and then….you’re a well-travelled man and you know what they do in China if you’re declared corrupt in People’s Republic.

Third, in your works in Culture and national museums, you must have learnt a thing or two about archiving and record keeping. Do dig those archives for reports from the 1987 All-Africa Games and subsequent All Africa Games, 1990s World Cross Country championships, Olympic Games reports from 1956-1972 &1984-2012 among others. Those will make you have a clear view of what happened to Kenyan sport and why we have either lost or gained in some sports disciplines.

Fourth, read sports policy documents from sporting countries like Australia, Brazil, China, USofA and even our colonial masters the UK. These countries have enshrined sports as mainstream activities and their governments ‘have put their money where their mouths are’. The world over, unless the Government actively engages its populace in sport and make deliberate efforts to do so, Kenya shall suffer from the lethargy it has continued to suffer from in the last 20 years or so. Chairman Mao Tse Tung declared table tennis a national sport and you can see today what that sport has done for the country and its satellite states.

Fifth, you must also revisit the Jubilee manifesto to guide you on your appointing authority mandate & previous Government policies e.g. the reward system and recognition as national heroes.A major point is the investment in infrastructure in sports in at least 5 counties and building stadia and sports academies. It’s a  shame that the country has not undertaken any major sports infrastructure development for most sports disciplines. It is sad that open spaces have either become grabbers’ paradise or grazing fields for urban animal keepers or just suffering from neglect. A quick audit of all these facilities in the country will show those that can be secured by the state and those that the country governments can start working immediately. Together with the Local Government Ministry do ensure that urban planners factor open playing spaces and no not just the usual golfing fields but football, running tracks and other such facilities.

Sixth, there are some associations with some semblance of order, consult with those and ensure they have direct access to your office. They will need your office’s guidance and support to secure regional and international competitions and the State should never again have to suffer the reputation that we did in 1996 of bidding for a continental competition only for the country to back out in the last minute ( Africa Cup of Nations, which was eventually hosted and won by South Africa).

Dr. Hassan A. Wario – Image courtesy of www.nation.co.ke

Seventh, curriculum in schools and higher institutions of learning should start emphasising on sports and the business around it. As we write this, only 2 universities in Kenya are offering course in sports management and physical activities. Even with such a rich heritage of sports achievers and sports leaders, surely we can start working on relevant curriculum for those willing to engage in sport not just on the field and pitch but also in the boardrooms and offices. We can have collaborations and short term course from reputable institutions such University of Michigan, Ohio State University, University of East London, Cardiff University to name just a few.

These 7 points we have sought to talk about will be more than enough for your 5-year term and achieving 7–80% of these will be major boon for Kenyan sport on the global scene. You undertook that oath, we keep the faith!

SIDENOTE:
Kindly consider opening Twitter accounts for your Ministry and one of own. Kenyans on Twitter famously known as #KOT who have a thing for sport will engage with you but be ready for baptism by fire…

Sports Bill – Let’s Get Kenyan Sport started

After a 10-year heart-wrenching and sometimes frustrating journey, Kenyan sport will finally get its biggest shot in the arm. As the 10th Parliament prepares to end its stay, the one thing the Kenyan sports fraternity will be grateful for is their passing of the Sports Bill ( it awaits Presidential assent to become law as early as March 2013).

Kenya 50 years oncourtesy of www.1500questions.org

At least our lamentations to our Minister one Ababu Namwamba seems to have borne fruit and history will judge him accordingly.
The Sports Bill had a number of proposals which will among others ensure Kenyan sport changes and is run more professionally as well as addressing the revenue issues which plague majority of the sports bodies.

Check this out;

  • establishment of Sports Kenya Development Authority ( mandated to oversee all sports activities, promote, co-ordinate and implement sports programs and manage sports assets and facilities countrywide among others);
  • establishment of a National Sport Fund ( to raise and manage funds for sports authority as well as advise sports federations on appropriate financial grants among others);
  • establishment of  a National Sports Institute ( to manage sports training facilities, promote research and development, check on current sporting trends and recommend appropriate practices to sports federations);
  • registration and regulation of sports organisations and licensing ( creation of Registrar of Sports organisations, licensing of sports bodies – federation, club or otherwise, inspection of financial records and books among others)

Once the Bill is signed into law, existing sports bodies will have to register afresh and in some cases might have to elect new officials for fresh mandate. This has surely not gone down well with many of the current sports officials. The Bill also prescribes regular monitoring and evaluation of sports bodies through annual reports and returns to the Registrar.

It also offers the Secretary of Sport ( equivalent to the current Minister) to intervene and dissolve a sports body in case of disputes or mismanagement. This again has caused discomfort with some of the federations such as Football Kenya Federation which believe they’re beyond any national government interference ( as FIFA honchos have always made national federations feel above the law).
The law has addressed the perennial headache of fund-raising which shall be taken care of by the Sports Fund. This will ensure future national and international representation will have sufficient funds to participate in events and also federations running their affairs smoothly.

But we in Kenyan sport should remain vigilant and ensure that the Sports Law is not just another clause in the Kenyan laws. Just like our legislators, most of the sports officials without interest in the development and growth of sport will fight back and stifle these developments. Law experts tell us that the law doesn’t operate in a vacuum and isn’t cast in stone – it is in the interests of all those involved to safeguard against its abuse. ( We know that a number of sports bodies campaigned for the removal of the clause limiting the terms of office for sports officials).

As the country marks the golden anniversary and in its over 60 years legacy in international participation in sport, the legislation will pave way for added investment and interest in Kenyan sport. It will ensure professionalism in running sports bodies and see that sport is firmly grounded in case of indiscipline.

Notice is served to all you charlatans running sport! Just like our outgoing MPs, start packing your bags too!

‘Useless’ Kenya Facts:
The 10th Parliament had quite a number of MPs who have either been sports personalities or managed sports organisations in one capacity or the other. Here are a few noteworthy ones;

  1. Peter Kenneth (MP for Gatanga) – served as Chairman for Kenya Football Federation 1996 -2000( now Federation of Kenyan Football…semantics), played for now-defunct Re-Union as goalkeeper,
  2. Alfred Khangati (MP for Kanduyi )- served as Chairman Kenya Volleyball Federation in the 1990s and
  3. Dr. Sam Ongeri (MP for Nyaribari Masaba)- served as Chairman for Athletics Kenya 1974-84, 
  4. Chris Obure (MP for Bobasi) – played for Gor Mahia in the 1970s ,
  5. Elijah Lagat (MP for Emgwen) – former marathoner who won Boston (2000), Prague (1998) and Berlin (1997) marathons respectively,
  6. John Harun Mwau ( MP for Kilome) – sharp-shooter who represented Kenya in the Olympics in 1968 and 1972 shooting category.
(…if anyone can recall any others, please help us note them)

Kenyan National Honours, who makes the Sports Category shortlist?

Jamhuri or Independence/Republic Day is usually the last major national day on the Kenyan calendar. This day also serves as  when the list of state commendations or honours are awarded to various Kenyan nationals who have served diligently and exceptionally within the given calendar year or in their lifetime. It is structured in the same vein of civil awards and decorations such as are awarded in the UK ( Kenya’s former colonial master), US et cetera.

Kenya State Commendation Bars
Image courtesy  of http://www.coleccionesmilitares.com/

Immediately after Kenya’s independence, the roll of honour was largely composed of politicians, businessmen, educationists and sadly cronies of the Government of the day. This was perpetuated in by the Moi government in the 1980s and 90s. Then came the Kibaki era which is coming to its sunset days. Again not much change there and though there have been a couple of deserving Kenyans who have been awarded, there are also some ‘suprises’ who show up every now and then. (FYI -In 2012, two of the President’s children or is it First Family’s were among those honoured)
Do you always wonder if you have made the list or at least someone who you know deserves? It was a bit of an embarrassment for the Kenyan state in 2004 when the Nobel Committee honoured Wangari Maathai with its Prize for Peace while back home the best we could do is offer her a Deputy Ministerial post with its lowly honours and priviledges.

All the same we have a list of the honours listed as follows;

  • Order of the Golden Heart – Chief/First Class(only Kenyan Head of State & other exemplary people from other parts of the world are awarded this) denoted as CGH, Elder/Second Class (EGH), Moran/Third Class (MGH)
  • Order of the Burning Spear – Chief (CBS), Moran (MBS) and Elder (EBS)
  • Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya (OGW) 
  • Silver Star (SS)
  • Head of State Commendation ( HSC)
  • Distinguished Service Medal
  • Distinguished Conduct Order

This year there were a couple of sports personalities awarded including;

  • David Lekuta Rudisha (MBS)
  • Sam Nyamweya (MBS)

Last year’s list included among others;

  • Collins Injera (OGW)
  • Humphrey Kayange (OGW)

Other previous honours include Catherine Ndereba (DSM & OGW), Tecla Loroupe (OGW), Ezekiel Kemboi (OGW), Jason Dunford (OGW) and Paul Tergat (MBS) to name but a few.

Pres. Kibaki garlands The Aga Khan with Chief of Golden Heart (CGH) honours – 2007

Now my beef starts with the ‘economy of that list’. It was too short considering there are many sports personalities worthy of recognition whether still active, retired or post-humously. This has been done before. For example, Kenya never honoured her late boxing hero Robert Wangila Napunyi, marathoner Samuel Wanjiru, footballer Jonathan Niva, former tennis star Paul Wekesa et cetera.
Secondly, what criteria do the State operatives use to vet those deserving of these awards? Yeah what great honour did some of those mentioned bring us? For example, football honcho Sam Nyamweya though in charge of Football Kenya Federation currently, our take is that he has not really lived up to expectations. In fact, he could be part of why Kenyan football languishes in mediocrity. Look at how they handled the Henri Michel case. What about Sakata Ball?
Finally we’re reminded that there was supposed to be a Heroes Corner at Uhuru Gardens. What happened to that initiative? Athletics Kenya came up with its own Sports Museum to try and honour those who achieved great deeds in the sport for the country, though it doesn’t quite measure up to standards.

Next year at a time like this,we shall be having a new government and hope that they will improve on the way  we honour our sports people. They have been our greatest and most consistent ambassadors and should treated as such if not better!

Athletics Kenya distances itself from Olympic Report

After London Olympics’ fiasco ( not entirely suprising from our quarters), Athletics Kenya President Mr. Isaiah Kiplagat sought to lay out the blame on other issues. Again no suprises there. Once the report is out, we shall analyse it and give our honest opinion(s) – hope they count for something.
But back to Mr Isaiah Kiplagat, as he answered questions from journalists fresh from London ( where he attended the Games as an IAAF Board member and guest). He said that the Government has been making these reports from Olympic Games since 1976 and none has been acted upon. He also said that Kenyan sports should look into other disciplines to seek medals from in future Games.
Well, Mr. President, we won’t talk on behalf of the Government for not working on the reports since some of the officials involved in the fiasco are part of the blame. We had a similar situation in the All-Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique and nothing was acted upon. It was only going to be a repeat at a larger scale.
Other sporting disciplines bringing Kenya gold, first accept the blame for a dismal show in athletics which you head. Secondly explain to us the whole joke at the Prefontaine trials which AK heavily endorsed and Kenya didn’t manage gold in any of the long races. Third, you might want to suggest a departure date since it’s about time you called it a day for the athletics top job.

Enjoy your weekend though!

Kenya’s Olympic Trials – Some ‘Mini Olympics’

Its interesting that the races going on this weekend are referred to as trials, should be more like qualifiers…maybe we’re unfazed by the English language… Speaking of the English, just over a month to go, Kenya shall be sending her contingent to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Athletics has been and remains Kenya’s mainstay for the gold haunt.

With a total of 78 medals won in all Olympic Games Kenya has participated in, Athletics has won us, 69 – 28 Gold 27 Silver and 19 Bronze.

These Games will be no exception and this weekend, some of the races that Kenya expects to harvest medals in shall know its representatives. They are;

  • 800m men
  • 1500m men and women
  • 3000m steeplechase (men)
  • 5000m men and women
The qualifiers in these races will join others who have already qualified by virtue of attaining the times and being named by Athletics Kenya and include 4 x 400m men’s team, javelin (men), marathon teams (both men and women) and the 10000m men and women.This is to hoping only the best emerge and no controversial decisions crop up from the complaints of wild card selections et al. 
We do wish the all athletes, the best in their respective races and let’s pull one better than we did in Beijing 2008. The potent you have from last year’s World Athletics Championships means you’re true world-beaters. Our heritage with our former colonial masters ought to be good enough inspiration. 
Do it!

UPDATE:
Saturday marked the culmination of one of the hotly contested Olympic tickets in recent history. No major upsets were realised and most of the favourites registered good times and easily booked tickets. Preview of the some of those who made the final list of Olympic finalists is as follows;



Men:
800mDavid Rudisha, Timothy Kitum, Job Kinyor
1500m – Asbel Kiprop, Nixon Chepseba, Silas Kiplagat
5000m – Isaiah Kiplangat, Edwin Soi, Thomas Longosiwa
10000m – Wilson Kiprop, Moses Masai, Bitan Karoki
Marathon – Wilson Kipsang, Abel Kirui, Emmanuel Mutai
400m hurdles – Vincent Koskei
3000m steeplechase – Brimin Kipruto, Abel Mutai, Ezekiel Kemboi
4 X 400m – David Rudisha, Mark Mutai, Vincent Mumo, Vincent Koskei, Anderson Mureta

Women:
800m – Pamela Jelimo, Janeth Jepkosgei, Winnie Chebet
1500m – Hellen Obiri, Eunice Sum, Faith Chepngetich
5000m – Vivian Cheruiyot, Sally Kipyego, Viola Kibiwott
10000m – Vivian Cheruiyot, Sally Kipyego, Linet Chepkirui
Marathon – Mary Keitany, Edna Kiplagat, Priscah Jeptoo
3000m steeplechase – Lydia Rotich, Mercy Njoroge, Milcah Chemos

ZUKU to air 2012 Samsung IAAF Diamond League Athletics series…

Diamond League logocourtesy 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 logocourtesy of www.zuku.com

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)