Revamp sports to boost economies

Friday, December 16th, 2022 10:40 | By
Kenya in race to stop athletics ban
Sports CS Ababu Namwamba (left) cracks a joke with Fifa president Gianni Infantino when they met in Doha yesterday on the sidelines of Qatar World Cup. Ababu is seeking to have Kenya’s sanction by Fifa lifted as he also hopes that the country is not banned from athletics. PD/Courtesy

President William Ruto’s announcement during Jamhuri Day celebrations that the government plans to introduce vibrant grassroots football competitions in all the 47 counties is a timely idea that would certainly boost the fortunes of football if implemented.

e development presents an opportunity for Kenya to relook at how it manages talent and selects players for the national team.

The President also mentioned the ‘Talanta Hela’ plan, through which the country will rebuild and monetise local sports and creative industry. The plan is a ground-breaking national digital platform for talent identification, development and placement where qualified scouts will be tasked with going to every corner of the country searching for talent from the grassroots.

Ruto’s initiative is a noble one and should not end up being a pipe dream like many other ideas floated previously just to end prematurely. Rather, it should provide a pipeline through which local talent can be nurtured to global standards. It will help many talented youths to gain financially from their prowess in sports and the arts.

However, for the programme to succeed, it will need a lot of dedication and proper leadership and well laid out structures to actualise it. The talent identification must also be done on merit and facilities made available and either free or affordable to benefit the greatest number of youths possible. The stadia that were left uncompleted should be completed and more facilities built across the country even by private investors keen on cashing in on renting out the facilities. With all these boxes ticked, playing at the 2030 World Cup and hosting the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations tournament could become a reality for Kenya.

For starters, Kasarani and Nyayo Stadium should quickly be completed to meet Fifa international standards so that by the time our national teams start taking part in international qualifiers next year, they are able to host their home matches on Kenyan soil. Stalled works at Kinoru, Kipchoge Keino, Kamarin, Wote, Chuka, Ruringu and Marsabit stadiums should also be revived and completed to allow various sports competitions to be held in the facilities. This will offer numerous benefits for counties and private players like the hospitality industry, which will benefit from the spill over effects of hosting games.

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