Find lasting solutions on funding sports
Kenya, despite holding the tag of a great sporting nation, has also held the infamy of allowing some disciplines to remain underfunded to the point of missing out on international assignments.
The latest incident has afflicted the national sevens rugby team, Shujaa, which has resorted to crowd-funding ahead of the second leg of the 2022-2023 World Rugby Sevens Series set for Dubai this weekend. Such is the ignominy that pervades some of the sports even though Treasury and Sports ministries are expected to have a budget to fund players who are set to do duty for the country abroad.
The tribulations that Shujaa have faced are nothing new. If anything, it is part of a worrying trend that must be arrested under the new administration. Two years ago, the national amputee football team had been denied funding ahead of the World Cup in Mexico.
The trip almost failed were it not for a well-wisher who bailed out the team whose members had camped at the ministry headquarters to seek the audience of the then Sports Cabinet Secretary. Some of the players who have represented Kenya in major events are living in squalor, in large part due to apathy by the government towards the sport yet investing in it would give them an opportunity through which they can showcase their talents to sponsors – which is part of the government’s mandate of creating an enabling environment for citizens to thrive.
Whereas officials are likely to say that the Shujaa case has been blown out of proportion, it would be too much to expect players to deliver good results when they are unpaid and cannot meet their day-to-day obligations, even to their families.
Although rugby is one of the sports that has chalked up a fair share of success and created positive publicity about Kenya, the government has not given it the attention it deserves. Indeed, there is no gainsaying that talent thrives in the country but as long as players continue suffering, we should forget a breakthrough for some of our best sports people. Y
et we can unlock their potential just by treating our national teams better and budgeting in advance for all events that Kenya intends to send teams to. Officials of the relevant ministry should not bury their heads in the sand and pretend that everything is going to be well after the current fiasco.
Rather, they must be challenged to be proactive and put the interest of the sports fraternities they lead at the forefront.
Sport is not just a recreation. It has the potential to become an economic game-changer with the right investment and attention.