What awaits Namwamba in Sports docket

Thursday, September 29th, 2022 06:00 | By
Sports CS Ababu Namwamba Ruto
Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba and President William Ruto. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Out goes Ambassador Amina Mohammed as Cabinet Secretary for Sports; in comes international lawyer Ababu Namwamba as her replacement.

Ababu’s nomination was announced  reshuffle by President William Samoei Ruto on Tuesday was music to the ears of sports enthusiasts and particularly those of football that have witnessed firsthand the revered sport drifting into a bottomless chasm almost to a point of no return.

Full in-tray

To say that Namwamba’s in-tray is full would be an understatement: If apprved, Namwamba  will be taxed with ending the ceaseless wrangles in football, Tae-kwo-ndo, badminton, Karate, swimming and hockey.

Federations handling most of these disciplines have not held elections for years to usher in new officials. They are entangled in squabbles with some officials refusing to vacate office even with the expiry of the term of service.

Namwamba would also have to deal with underfunding menace that has affected various federations most notable netball and amputee football whose officials go around with begging bowls whenever teams are scheduled for international tournaments

Kenya’s Simbas head coach Paul Odera in July appealed to fans to help raise Sh10 million to enable the team to participate in the 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers in France that were played on July 1-10.

Equally. Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) also launched a campaign as the ladies’ team (Malkia Strikers) were in danger of missing the World Championships due to a lack of funds. A local betting company came to the aid of Kenya women’s volleyball team

Football, in particular, is a poisoned chalice with the country currently sanctioned by Fifa after the world governing body indefinitely suspended Kenya citing the government’s interference in the running of the game.

Kenyan teams have been idle for over a year and it should be a priority for the incoming cabinet secretary to harmonize both the federation and other players in the industry to convince Fifa to lift the ban.

Meanwhile, CS nominee Namwambwa hinted on his twitter handle that he will make lifting of the Fifa ban his priority after he assume office.

The matters have not been made better by the dwindling sponsorship of teams and this is where Namwamba’s leadership comes in to entice goodwill from corporate entities.

There is a dire need for his ministry to work flat out to restore sanity in the game and weed out corrupt and incompetent officials who have brought the game into disrepute.

While Kenyans exult in the pride of having the national team Harambee Stars revisit the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in 2019 in Egypt after a 15-year hiatus coupled with their women counterparts Harambee Starlets shining in the continental and regional scenes, there is big bloat in the game.

The ugly head of mismanagement of funds the government advanced to Football Kenya Federation (FKF) towards Harambee Stars’ participation in the biannual tournament reared its ugly head when the federation failed to account for Sh244 million for the same.

Level playing ground

It happened even as the outgoing Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Sports Joe Okudo said the Government had secured the backing of Fifa in its bid to inspect FKF accounts with the latter objecting to the move.

But most importantly, Namwamba needs to create a level playing ground and work with Fifa to ensure that the ban is lifted to save Kenyan football fans the heartache of having not seen action for one year now.

Namwamba inherits the Sports docket when athletics, Kenya’s most famous sports discipline, experienced underperformance in major global events including the recently held World Athletics Championships in Oregon, United States, and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Travel logistic hitches almost denied key athletes the opportunity to participate in the games due to late prcessing of visa in respective embassies. The matter was taken up Director of Criminal Investigations when reports emerged that joyriders were given priority over deserving athletes. Additionally, promising athletes continue to be blacklisted by World Athletics over doping.

It is also prudent that the new Sports Cs reviews the 2013 Sports Act of which he was part and parcel of its enactment during his tenure to suit all disciplines in the country.

It should not escape the mind of Namwamba that some of the clauses in the Act do not corroborate with international affiliations which is why their amendment is long overdue.

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