Define place of youths, sports in manifestos of aspirants
The August 9 election is just weeks away and Kenyans are immersed in a political frenzy as campaigns hit a fever pitch. Political parties and aspirants are aligning themselves to get the best chance of clinching the government and political seats. Coalitions have been formed and realignments continue to take shape.
Topical issues such as corruption, ballooning public debt, unemployment, high taxation, inflation, rising fuel prices and living standards have dominated political rallies, functions and media talk show interviews.
Politicians from either divide have argued and debated each other about the above, shaping the agenda and whoever promises to solve them believes Wanjiku will give them the confidence and power to lead the government once President Uhuru Kenyatta vacates office after the general elections.
However, the youth agenda and sports fraternity have not been addressed adequately. A majority of the unemployed Kenyans are youth. Universities have been churning out graduates annually that end up not getting opportunities to pursue careers due to inadequate or lack of employment opportunities and exorbitant licences to set up businesses.
According to a February World Bank report via the International Labor organisation (ILO), the unemployment rate as of 2020 was 13.5 per cent compared to 7.3 per cent in 2016. Unemployment among the youth is a ticking time bomb that needs to be addressed quickly and soberly to save the country’s posterity.
The youth are struggling with depression, betting and gambling, theft and robbery, and fraud while the suicide rate is increasingly going up. Most of the ills could be cured with an economy that is giving equal opportunities to all, fair taxation, encourages entrepreneurship, creates a market for farm produce and political goodwill.
Members from the sports fraternity are yearning for a time the government will treat sports as a job like any other, one that can put meals on the table and pay taxes to build the nation.
For far too long, sportsmen have been embarrassed in foreign countries sleeping at the airports because hotel rooms were not paid for, delayed salaries and allowances, and inadequate kits or sports equipment to play with. The sportsmen albeit all these shenanigans still suit up, compete and hold the national flag high in regional and international engagements.
Sanity should prevail once and for all. Punitive measures should be put in place to deter federation and government officials from hoodwinking athletes.
Every Kenyan wants to hear from the political aspirants about how they’ll invest in grassroots tournaments that will identify raw talent, ink deals with foreign institutions that will offer scholarship opportunities from junior high school to university, charge corrupt federation and government officials and promote sports tourism among others.
One may wonder what the point of building stadia across the country is while there are no proper systems in place to assist athletes achieve goals and ambitions.
Kenyans should be playing in the top football leagues in Europe, basketball leagues, pro-tennis tournaments, and major boxing events among other sports. The way secondary school national sports completions are competitive with students exhibiting skills, passion, desire and loyalty to win should not be let down the drain when they finish high school.
Such talents should be scooped and housed in sports academies for nurturing. Aspiring politicians should tell sportsmen and women the plans they have for sports as the sector contributes to the economy in many ways.
— The writer comments on topical issues