What you need to know:
- Nyeri County Governor roots for counselling services
County sports departments have been urged to collaborate with Athletics Kenya (AK) and the Ministry of Education to come up with elaborate psycho-social support programmes for sports persons.
Council of Governors Education Committee Chairman and Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga called upon stakeholders in sports, particularly athletics, to come up with accessible counselling services and financial management training at the devolved unit level.
“There should be a programme that involves the sports and health departments to have personnel who would occasionally talk to athletes to boost their psychological wellness.
Make the sessions compulsory
“The department of health must give us counsellors to assist our sportsmen and women and we should make these sessions compulsory especially to those who win prize money,” said Kahiga, also an experienced athletics administrator, told Nation Sport on Friday.
He was speaking this in the wake of the recent incidences of athlete killings in the country, terming them as “unfortunate and shocking.”
On Wednesday, the athletics world was plunged into shock after 25-year-old, record-breaking star Agnes Tirop was found dead at her home in Iten while another athlete, Edith Muthoni, a budding track runner, was also murdered in Kianjege Village in Kirinyaga County under almost similar circumstances on Friday.
Governor Kahiga spoke as the burial committee yesterday confirmed that Tirop will be buried at her parents’ home at Kapnyamisa Village in Nandi County this coming Saturday (October 23).
The committee agreed on the date which they said was convenient for people who are working and who would love to attend the burial.
According to family spokesman Jeremiah Kibet, many people are expected to attend the burial because “Tirop was an international athlete and a friend to many.”
“We want to give her a befitting send off because we loved her.
“She was a hard-working girl and she also touched many lives and we will really miss her,” said Kibet.
Speaking in Nyeri, Kahiga called upon Athletics Kenya to increase its monitoring especially in the clubs and in the villages where he said that some people posing as coaches are taking advantage of young runners, especially women.
“I would propose that the counties set up fully-fledged counselling programmes to curb these unfortunate incidents. As you realise, our athletes burst into fame and wealth at a very tender age and it is about time we come up with support systems to help them manage both fame and money,” he said.
According to Kahiga — who is also Central Region Athletics Kenya chairman — a number of those trainers are in the field with hidden agendas that only manifest when the athletes start getting money from races saying that more often than not this is usually the source of conflicts that at times turns tragic.
“Some of the runners are getting married as early as 20 years to young men who act as their coaches.
“That person cannot make life-long decisions. It is, therefore, important to also come up with a strict code of conduct for anyone dealing with these young talents because this is another red area,” he added.
The county chief said there is a need to have Saccos for athletes where they can be depositing their money and only access it through loans, having gone through financial management training.
He acknowledged that the national AK office has been offering financial management training but said it should be rolled out to all sports departments in the counties.
“This is a matter that should be shared across schools as the source of these talents, Athletics Kenya and the county departments. The three levels of sports management should have some degree of coordination to establish these talents, follow them up through proper data keeping and monitor them for the purposes of counselling and other support in course of their career,” said Kahiga.
Tanui wants quick intervention
Meanwhile, two-time Boston Marathon champion Moses Tanui said he is saddened by what is transpiring among the upcoming athletes, agreeing with Governor Kahiga that there is need for quick intervention to tame the behaviour before it is too late.
He explained that an athlete’s career span has become short and athletes should, therefore, invest wisely and build their careers well with the right person who will be able to take care of what they have invested in.
“During our time, an athlete could even compete for 15 to 20 years, but that has changed and the span now is very short.
“We are sorry for what happened to the two-time world bronze medalist in 10,000m Tirop and we hope justice will be done,” said Tanui.