Private sector can play key role in growth of sports 

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021 00:00 | By
Ferdinand Omanyala: Photo/Courtesy

Jeremy Awori 

Recently, Kenya hosted one of the most exciting global athletics competitions – the Absa Kip Keino Classic, the final meeting of this year’s World Athletics Continental Tour at the Moi Sports Complex, Kasarani.

The Absa Kip Keino Classic brought to Kenyan soil some of the world’s top athletes across various disciplines including sprinters Justin Gatlin and Trayvon Brommel and Olympics gold medallist El Bakkali. 

A big congratulations to our athletes such as Faith Kipyegon, Vincent Keter, Mary Moraa and Ferdinand Omanyala, among others, who put up a great show, winning and even setting new records in various races. 

It is undeniable that on the global stage, nothing shines the spotlight on Kenya like the prowess of our athletes.

The accolades they have won in athletics competitions around the world have built a strong reputation for our country as a producer of world-class runners.

Their impressive performances attract regional and internationally renowned athletes who come to Kenya to train alongside our champions in high-altitude places like Iten and Eldoret. 

The Absa Kip Keino Tour was yet another opportunity to stamp our identity as the Home of Champions and showcase our growing capability to host international competitions.

As the private sector, we must increasingly take great interest in sports due to the important role it plays in the betterment of our society.

From a social perspective, sports plays an important role in nation-building, increasing social cohesion, preventing violence as well as building peace and unifying a people, especially the youth. 

According to a UNICEF 2021 report titled, Getting into the Game, sport is cited as a powerful means of engaging all children and developing their personal and social development to help them achieve their full potential.

From an early age, sport provides children – including the most marginalised – with the opportunity to develop their physical abilities and health, socialise, build leadership skills, foster lifelong learning as well as have fun, the study says.

In addition, youth engaging in sports acquire important life skills such as communication, collaboration and leadership skills that boost their confidence and develop desirable qualities for the labour market.

More broadly, for societies, the above research identified sports as an important enabler to support the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

All these factors explain why the private sector should get involved. Among other interventions, the private sector can participate in the development, financing, and provision of sports infrastructure and services.

In addition, sport is a cash-incentive sector that needs consistent investment to attract the right role models, coaches, and trainers who are critical in generating positive outcomes and nurturing sporting talent. 

Over the years, we have witnessed the positive contributions of the private sector in the promotion of sports.

As a result, many talented youths gain decent employment through sports. 

Our sponsorship of the Kenya Open Golf Tournament for decades is a testimony to what public-private partnerships can achieve.

Through such fruitful partnerships with the Kenya Open Golf Limited and the Ministry of Sports, we have contributed to the transformation of the Kenya Open Golf Tournament from a local tournament to a prestigious, globally recognized championship that attracts and produces some of the world-renowned golfers. 

The success of the Absa Kip Keino Tour is further evidence that when we work together, we can raise the bar higher for our country’s sports development, talent identification and development, and sports tourism capabilities.

With consistent effort, Kenya can be recognised not just as a land of great athletic talent, but one that has the capacity, goodwill, and resources to host global competitions on our soil.

For the private sector players, investing in sport creates opportunities for high prominence, visibility, and positive affinity – all of which contribute to profitable outcomes for a company, creating a win-win situation for all. —The writer is the Managing Director, Absa Bank Kenya PLC

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