Time to streamline sports

Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba took over the docket with gusto on Wednesday, reading the riot act to federations as they, too, laid out their demands.

Local sports could witness a major transformation if the ministry and federations are to change, going by what was expressed and discussed at the meeting.

While it goes without saying that there is lack of adequate funding from the government, virtually all sports federations lack transparency and accountability in their activities, especially finances and national team selection. This has been the root cause of leadership wrangles that have seen Kenya banned by some world sports bodies, including Fifa (football), Fina (swimming) and World Badminton Federation.

Namwamba isn’t new to local sports governance, having served in the same capacity nine years ago under President Mwai Kibaki. It’s welcome news that the government will continue to fund some federations’ activities but they will have to provide audited accounts besides disclosing their other sources of funding. But that should be the norm since federations can’t demand public funding without being accountable.

The directive to sports federations to have grassroot development programmes is commendable. Most of them focus on organising or sending teams to events but their respective disciplines lack basic grassroots structures to nurture talent.

While the government will stop the haphazard construction of facilities that don’t conform to the changing world of sports, it will be wise to complete building the stalled facilities while ensuring that they meet international standards. Waiving the exorbitant fees levied on the usage of public facilities is good for most athletes who can’t afford the daily charges. Besides, the activities of the Sports Fund need to be streamlined.

Lastly, federations must hold free and fair elections so as to end the incessant wrangles and all must fight the doping scourge since it’s not only athletics that is affected but other sports like judo, football, boxing and bodybuilding.

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