Sports in Kenya – First Quarter 2016 – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The first quarter of 2016 is
already up, funny how time flies when we’re having fun…but is Kenyan sport
really have that much fun? January – March there have been a number of
positives to cheer up our common good as a nation (though David Ndii doesn’t quite believe in this….). The same period has also seen a number of
disappointing results, pronouncements or lack thereof. Let’s get this started;
Good

  • FKF Elections – a new Board of management is running
    Kenya’s biggest sport, football. After a number of false starts, it was the
    youthful Nick Mwendwa who
    won the day. His base, christened #TeamChange also scooped a number of
    strategic positions including the Vice President – giving Kenya her first female
    top football official.
    Kenya’s Oscar Ouma against New Zealand’s Bonny Williams – courtesy of FoxSports.com 
  • Kenya 7s – 2016 started well for the 7s team. In March, victories
    against strong nations like New Zealand and Argentina at the Las Vegas 7s showing
    intent into the team’s aspirations of finishing in the top 6 of the IRB 7s log.
    One of the highlights was one Collins Injera clocking his 220th try
    and now chasing the top try scorer’s position being the only top 3 7s players
    with a shot at it. 
  • Kenya’s athletic prowess – world half-marathoners (both men and women ) and continental cross-country
    champions is what we are! The two teams scored big victories both at individual
    and team levels colleting top honours and firmly setting the pace as the world
    prepares for an Olympic year. Hongera
    wanariadha wetu
    !
  •  Motoring whiz – Tejas
    Hirani
    – if you don’t know that
    name, then you don’t know the young genius of a motorsport driver in the
    country who’s making it big on the icy and speedy trails in Europe. And as he
    says on his link this is “a champion in the making”…enough said! 
  • Sponsorships – the betting companies have been placing
    their money where mouths are by signing sponsorship deals with the Kenya
    Premier League, top teams in the KPL including AFC Leopards, Gor Mahia among
    others. Other corporates have restored some of their sponsorships including
    Kenya Airways, Safaricom who put investments in the rugby sport. Golfing
    enthusiasts got their annual swings thanks to a raft of sponsorship deals –
    including Barclays Bank, MultiChoice, TransCentury among others.
    Flying Tejas – Kenya’s motor-rallying Tejas Hirani –  courtesy of www.tejashirani.com 
Bad

  • Anti-Doping Bill – if ever there was a time our MPs were
    needed to legislate on a Bill before its signed into law, it’s now. But what do
    our ‘honourable men and women decide? Blow whistles while others were busy
    cheering on the Presidency before going on recess. Now Kenya stares at missing
    major athletics events including the 2016 Rio Games
  • Football politics – it didn’t take long for the game to be
    back in mucky waters – from the national coach appointment, to the circus that was the national team selection and
    ultimately 2 defeats for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. It has also
    been an unsteady start to the Kenya Premier League as teams seek to secure
    sponsorships, with officials busy scheming how to keep the monies deeper and
    for long than pay deserving players and coaches. I mean why did Gor Mahia
    insist on reducing former manager’s pay before he decided to jump ship?
Ugly

  • AFCON  2017 Qualifications – Kenya’s (placed 103 on FIFA  world ranking loss to Guinea Bissau – over 40 places at 147 below Kenya  and we couldn’t muster a single goal. The second game inNairobi ended in a loss of 0-1 though the match was disrupted for 30 min as
    Kenyan players disagreed with referee’s decision to award a goal. In the meantime, the team and the venue Nyayo National Stadium faces severe penalties and likely suspension for the indiscipline.

  • Kenya’s Volleyball queens loss to Egypt in Rio Games direct qualifications – the team looked destined to book a direct ticket to Rio in August but the Kenya Volleyball Federation officials and team management had other ideas. First the change in personnel bringing in less experienced players was bound to backfire. Secondly the team’s preparations were haphazard and the technical aspects not well covered. The only reprieve is that there is one more round of qualifiers to be played next month in San Juan, Puerto Rico

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

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?

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!

Kenya Women’s Volleyball…can this be the turning point?


After bowing out of the World Volleyball Club championships, the Kenyan club Kenya Prisons proved why women’s volleyball in the country needs a new page. The team led by David Lung’aho who doubled up as national team coach until last week’s appointment of Paul Bitok, lost all its matches in the tourney.

The women’s game has been at its best on the regional and continental circles but on the global stage we are the whipping bags of other teams. It would not be fair to say that the game has stalled but what seems to ail the ladies on international duty?
First, we have to put it to the technical expertise available. With the national team technical bench coming from local clubs, it is almost certain that most have not much exposure on the game’s smaller more scientific procedures. A few years back Kenya Volleyball Federation has sought to invest in the Japanese expertise but we haven’t had much headway with that.
Secondly the local league cannot be said to be truly competitive to make for suitable hunting grounds for clubs in Europe and Asia. A few players have left but come back even before the season closes seeing the tough training regime exercised in those leagues.
Thirdly, investment in the game by the Kenya Volleyball Federation. Just like most of the sports organisations in Kenya, very little amount of monies have been set aside for grounds and training centres for the game’s growth. It is embarrassing that even for continental championships held in August, the KVF had to request private institutions to host the games ( true the Kasarani gymnasium is under repair but is that the only venue worth writing home about…?)
In November Kenya returns to the international scene with another slot at the World Cup to be held in Japan. For now, the remedial measures would be to ensure the ladies remain in camp as long as possible and receive rigorous training under their technical charges.
Going forward though, KVF needs to impress upon the Kenyan Government and well-heeled corporate firms of its worth. They can borrow a leaf from Kenya Rugby Union which has seen many a corporate put some amount into the local game. As we start the new system of governance through counties in the country, it will be interesting which ones pick up investment in sports facilities such as is with volleyball courts among others.
For international expertise, KVF can forward requests to FIVB who can aid in seeking and upon secondment, recommend the necessary personnel for this. This of course would also need some funds since most technical expertise is not cheap.
That way we shall be turning a new page in the game of volleyball that has been among the consistent ones in performance by our ladies.
In Other News:
The women’s team at the CAVB Continental Cup – Zonal phase held Lome, Togo secured a place in next year’s Continental Cup to be held in June 2012. Kudos to you for learning your ropes fast and taking the game to your opponents. Ours is to pray your efforts will be rewarded and shining Kenya’s light across the world. 2016 you ought to be on the sunny beaches of Brazil !

2011 Women’s Africa Nations Championship – Nairobi welcomes Continental Challenge

Kenya’s place as the continent’s one of biggest success in volleyball is without a doubt. That endorsement is seen in the current club and nation’s ranking among the best in the women’s game of volleyball.

It is thus Kenya’s team to lose as they host the Africa’s Nations Championship for the next few days ending on the 23rd of August. Due to the repairs taking place at the Kasarani sports stadia and also the need to have these games played in an indoor facility, Kenya Volleyball Association sought the private institutions at African Nazarene University and Brookhouse School to host the games divided into 2 pools.Image courtesy of www.sportsnewsarena.com

The games were necessitated by the need to get Africa’s representatives in the FIVB World Cup in November 2011 ( Kenya has represented Africa 5 other times with 2010 being the most recent, albeit to some poor showing). Some of the teams will also use the championships to prepare for the All- Africa Games which start in September in Maputo.

The pools are divided into;

Pool A: Cameroon,Egypt,Kenya and Nigeria

Pool B: Algeria,Botswana,Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia

Saturday represented Day 3 of the games. Front-runners for the finals are already positioning themselves with Kenya hoping to retain its pole position. Stiff opposition comes in the form of Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria and Tunisia.

We wish the ladies team all the best as David Lung’aho’s charges look to retain their title as Africa’s Queens. Led by captain Brackcides Agala and seeing seasoned hands such as Janet Wanja making a comeback, it is without doubt Kenya’s championship to lose.

For more regular updates check these links, www.sportsnewsarena OR www.cavb.org

All-Africa Games 2011 – Is Kenya ready for Continental Take-over?



2011 sees the start of what ought to be a busy 2 years for most sporting associations in the country. Yes we have the continental championships in the form of All-Africa Games this year being held in Maputo (official site here) starting us off. The next major sporting event is the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London – a major one since Britain are Kenya’s former colonial masters…
Back to the All-Africa Games, over the years, these Games have enjoyed or lost their glare depending on the country hosting them and again because the prestige attached to the Pan-Africa games have been eroded by more commercially lucrative sporting events for the different sporting disciplines.
Again the secretariat that run the AAG have not been able to get the Games to be a major attraction to the continent’s different states. As is often the case with most African states saying or promising one thing and actually doing another, the same has been the case with AAG. Remember that fiasco that almost became of the 4th All-Africa Games with Kenya hosting the continent 9 full years after 2 postponements?
The current Games were handed to Mozambique after initial hosts Zambia were unable to host due to lack of funds. Even current hosts Mozambique have their own challenges with them not having a hockey pitch worth hosting international games.
So what chance does Kenya have of topping the tables at the AAG?
1987:
The best performance the country has enjoyed was back in 1987 thanks of course to hosting them. That year and the build-up to the Games produced some of the best years for Kenyan sport with the national football team being a regional powerhouse & almost beating Egypt in a controversial final game ( we must remember that is the same year that Gor Mahia achieved continental supremacy in the club Africa Cup Winners Cup – Nelson Mandela Cup). The athletics team was able to hone skills that aided them in the 1988 Summer Olympic Games where we harvested 4 gold medals.

The boxing team ‘The Hit Squad’ was in no nonsense moods and collected 10 out of a possible 12 gold medals and went on to produce Africa’s first gold medal at the Korea Olympics thanks to the late,Robert Wangila Napunyi.
Other success stories were the hockey team was represented Africa albeit with no win at the 1988 Olympics; a medal in tae-kwo-ndo & also the emergence of Kenya’s women’s volleyball from their male counterparts.

2011:
24 years later, the dynamics have changed drastically. We have the usual shenanigans of lack of funds, more corrupt sports officials and vested interests among a myriad of challenges. The Sports Ministry has announced that Kenya will be represented in 19 disciplines out of the possible 23, laudable so far. But that’s almost where the good news ends.
Of all the sporting teams, the athletics one is the only one which conducted competitive and transparent team selection. Most of the other associations are plagued by disagreements over team selection, availability of funds and officials. Take a case of the boxing team, officials are busy suspending each other, while the game has lost its place in the national sporting scene. Where the team was enjoying participation to continental and international championships such the King’s Cup in Bangkok, there is no team worth talking about. The last time we sent a team to the Commonwealth Games it was some embarrassment with most of the boxers not able to keep up with modern scoring techniques and really no punching worth their gloves.
Look at the hockey,basketball, tae-kwon-ndo teams to name but a few. Pathetic to say the least…
The Assistant Minister of Sports announced that there would be no joy-riders on the teams going down south.

  • Good pronouncement but aren’t you the people charged with the responsibility of securing the nation’s interest for the good of our sportsmen and women?
  • Except for Athletics Kenya, Kenya Rugby Union, how are the other sporting bodies even still in existence? If not trying to give a semblance of a league, most are walking ghosts with officials out to enjoy office trappings for their own selfish gains and allowances leaving bankrupt bodies.
  • What sense is there in carrying a bloated team in the name of representation & national pride instead of a few well-selected and competitive teams which are almost certain of securing victory in their disciplines?
  • Mr. Minister Sir, even in our beloved athletics we have seen the national team selection take place only for our brothers and sisters to go falter at the continental stage after mismanagement by their agents and lack of proper training schedules. What plans do you have in place to ensure this doesn’t happen?
  • You have done great to change the lot for sporting people and teams going for national representation. Great that you are committing KShs.200 million of the 300 meant for preparing the contingent to Mozambique. But do you usually insist on comprehensive reports from these assignments and do you ever act on them anyway?
  • All-Africa Games should be the breeding ground for our teams to shine on the bigger international stage at next year’s Olympic Games. What is the Government doing to improve on previous performances and restore Kenya’s pride on that stage?
  • We had our swimmers do a great job in Algiers in 2007, Beijing 2008 and last year in New Delhi. Do they stand a chance of winning more medals and making us even more proud in London next year?

Answers to this questions will mean our participation in Maputo will not be another joyride and restore some pride to the country as well as ensure nurturing budding talent which is waiting in the wings. Anything short of those answers and Bwana Waziri, you shall be carrying 200 athletes and 200 officials busy on a sight-seeing trip and learning the local Portuguese dialect more than national duty.
It’s your call!

Check our earlier post on 2007 All-Africa Games as well as SportsNewsArena’s article on 2011 AAG.

Volleyball…can the Girls be true Queens now?

The continental volleyball scene is slowly becoming Kenya’s mainstay. The club level shows this as the case but let’s not be too happy for the time being. We have seen this before, our girls doing well on the continental platform but being dismal at the international engagements. As continental champs, the Confederation Africaine de Volleyball, CAVB needs to get its work cut out and send the team(s) for the necessary training camps of course with the national volleyball body working in close ties with them.
It would be fair for the continent to come out and put a better performance in the Women’s World Club Championships to be held in Qatar later this year. 5th out of 6 team is not a respectable position and though ambitious 3rd place is a possibility.
Let’s work towards that please Kenya Volleyball Federation and make the best for the continent as we have done in other sports. Well played though for Kenya Prisons winning the African club championships & Kenya Pipeline mustering a 2nd place too !

Women’s World Cup Championship – Can Kenyan ladies stop being the whipping kids?

After the Commonwealth Games next up is the Women Volleyball World C’ships to keep Kenyan sports enthusiasts engaged. Since the discipline is not part of the Club Games, the ladies have been away in a nondescript training camp where they have been after Sports Stadia Management Board locked them out of the Kasarani gymnasium.
When they were receiving the flag last week on Wednesday, we could not help but see that they maybe filling the slots and not be ready for the challenge. Even with the ladies having conquered Africa for the last 15 years both at national and continental fronts, on the global stage, it is a different preposition. 
Take that – Image courtesy of www. watchonlinesportsfree.com

Poor Preparations:
Starting with a rather worrisome fact that they had to train in a secluded camp some place in the Central part of Kenya, the team has had some tough times. The team selection also raised eyebrows with some regulars such as Janet Wanja getting the boot apparently for disobeying team orders of travelling for club engagements without permission.
Technically we feel the team still doesn’t have the bone to succeed in at least winning a single game at the outing. The Kenya Volleyball Federation has stuck to the local tacticians who with all due respect have just enough exposure at international levels. Contrary to what we had last time when we had a Japanese volleyball coach helping the team tackle some of those technical aspects, we shall rely on good old ‘African power’ to sail us through to the next round. 
FIVB – www.avf.org.au

Recommendations:
Starting with the camp, the best the team can do now is maintain a tight training schedule and as much as possible draw inspiration from their Commonwealth countrymen and women who did the country proud. They might also want to borrow inspirational movies such as A League of their Own, Remember the Titans among others.
As much as we don’t seem destined for the second and upcoming  games, the technical team should consult with the visiting squads’ management for future exchange visits. Brazil is one country the authorities should consult; first because they have a well-developed local league, are among challengers in both regular and beach volleyball, are looking to host the 2016 Olympics and we have a good window of opportunity right there. The country has a well-developed sports policy and almost adoptable to the Kenyan case unlike more developed economies of Western & Eastern Europe.
Once back from the international outing, Kenya Volleyball Federation SHOULD look to strengthening the local Women’s League. We wouldn’t want a similar story to what happened to the men’s game which is now just a past-time to most players having shown much promise in the 1980s only for the Government and Federation to watch it spiral out of control. Professionalise and make it viable for players to engage in the sport ( the Kenyan rugby 7s way if not better)
Enjoy the outing and avoid simple errors which lose the game(s). The power and stamina of the African woman should come into play and let it be your ace down the sleeve. We shall be cheering you on with every set won.
From the current rankings and group set-up we are skewed to lose 3 games and maybe just maybe win 2 games (against Czech Republic and Puerto Rico).  Our group includes;
– Brazil (among favourites for Finals)
– Czech Republic
– Italy
– Netherlands
– Puerto Rico

Pray you shall give us some fair stay in Japan and as they say すべてのベスト!

Volleyball : Kenyan Queens do it again

This year’s Women’s African club championship held in Mauritius saw our three teams qualify for the semi-finals, with Kenya Prisons winning the title, 3-1 sets against Kenya Pipeline. This is something of a perennial thing for Kenyan women clubs and this has made them contribute to national and continental success.

The only tragedy is that we have not been able to translate this to the international scene with our team losing mercilessly in the World Championships and Olympics respectively. Methinks the new Kenya Volleyball Federation has its work cut out. With the Commonwealth Games, Olympics and world championships coming up in the next 2 years, better start working now. I do hope you’ve resolved your little tiff with the Sports Stadia Management Board to avail to you the Kasarani Gym (which the Federation ought to pay for though the Government can throw in a subsidy or two).