Sportsmen ask Uhuru to lift suspension on sporting

By Mathew Ndungu
Tuesday, March 30th, 2021
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In summary

Grassroot sportsmen from Juja in Kiambu County have appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to lift the suspension on sporting activities which he announced on Friday last week as a mitigation measure to contain Covid-19.

Soccer players from the area regretted that interruption of sporting activities in the rural areas will occasion the rise in crimes and high abuse of drugs.

Led by Francis Mwangi, the captain of Jobless Corner FC that comprises outlawed substances reformers, the players said that most of the rehabilitated youths are kept busy every evening using sporting activities.

Following the indefinite suspension of sporting activities in the country due to rising positive tests as a result of coronavirus third wave, the players said they will be forced to remain idle, a move that could sway some of them back to drug abuse.

“We don’t know where to take most of the players especially those who were rehabilitated recently. In Witeithie, Juja, illicit brews are sold in sacks and the only way to keep the youth from being trapped to the menace is sports. The announcement by the president hit us hard and we would really urge him to consider people like us who survive on sports alone,” said Mwangi.
Mwangi urged the Head of State to either lift the entire suspension or impose practical containment measures that all sportsmen should comply with to continue with their activities.
The grassroot players sentiments were echoed by Dr. Joseph Gichui Kariuki who has been sponsoring soccer and volleyball teams in the vast Sub County.
Gichui said that most of the youth in the area have been entirely depending on sports to eke out a living, activities whose halting, he said will result in a crisis.
“Our government should borrow a leaf from countries experiencing a spike in Covid-19 but sports are still ongoing. There are measures that can be put in place to ensure sports continue uninterrupted by the deadly virus,” he said.
At the same time, the players and sports stakeholders urged the government to expand Kazi Mtaani, the national hygiene programme unveiled by the government in July last year as a form of social protection initiative to cushion the youth and vulnerable citizens in informal settlements from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Currently, beneficiaries operate on two shifts, each working for 11 days a month. They earn Sh455 per day, while supervisors earn Sh505 daily.   

The Friday Presidential directive becomes the second time sporting activities have been halted after a similar order was issued in March 2020, when the first cases of the virus was reported in the country.
The Football Kenya Federation Premier League, the National Super League, and the Kenyan Women Premier League had all begun and were at different stages.
Kenya’s Harambee Stars who crashed out of the race to qualify for the AFCON Finals last week when they drew 1-1 with Egypt were due to travel to Togo for their final Group G Afcon qualifier, a trip that was however not affected as international travels were not suspended.
Harambee Stars which stands at position three in Group G with four points will have their final qualifying match played today.
Prior to the announcement, sport events in the country were already being played behind closed doors and within strict regulations provided by the Government but are now cancelled for the second time as Kenya scrambles to get to grips with the latest outbreak.
In his televised nation address last week, the president said the positive test rate has hit 22% this week compared to January’s 2%.

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