Third Eye

Revive dwindling fortunes of hockey

Thursday, August 4th, 2022 00:25 | By
Kenya hockey team during a training session at City Park ahead of the Commonwealth Games set to be held in Birmingham, England. PD/Rodgers Ndegwa

There is no gainsaying the fact that the performance in hockey by Kenyan women has dipped going by the dismal results that the national team has been posting at the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Kenya fell 16-0 at the hands of New Zealand and crashed 15-0 to South Africa before succumbing 8-0 to Scotland.

It is a sad epitaph indeed that Kenya fell short of sounding the boards at least once in all the three ties, even for consolation purposes. Questions arise regarding the team’s preparedness ahead of the high-profile event. The poor performance is of major concern, especially to a sporting nation  whose hockey team has previously made seven appearances in the Olympics and two World Cup finals in 1971 and 1973.

But those are achievements from a golden past. Now, gone are the days when Kenya used to hold onto its own by restricting one-time World Champions Pakistan to barren draws and give a good account of itself when playing hockey giants like Holland and India. Today, the national team has been reduced to strugglers and has often been vanquished by low performers like Ghana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Where did the rain start beating us Kenya in so far as the hockey sport is concerned? There is a need for all stakeholders in the sport to ask hard questions about the sad state of affairs. The answers should help inform future policies and action programmes to revive the sport. Is it a problem of poor selection of players or unmotivated officials? Are poor technical and tactical preparations to blame for the lackluster show? Is it a question of lack of equipment and training grounds?

Unless the hockey fraternity confronts these hard questions, its sportsmen and women will remain a laughing stock in international hockey competitions. There is clearly need to go back to the drawing board and the government should come in to rectify the situation and especially to ensure that it has put in place modern facilities and remunerate both players and officials if they are to perform well on the big stage . The decline in hockey performance can also be partly attributed to a disorganised Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) administration whose incessant wrangles have bogged down the game. Just like hockey, basketball fortunes have also dwindled for both the men’s and women’s sides, both of which failed to make an impact at the Commonwealth Games. It is time we went back to the drawing board to look for solutions.

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