Namwamba: Govt to construct new stadium in honour of Kiprugut

Ababu Namwamba

Veteran athlete Kipchoge Keino (left), Athletics Kenya Vice President Paul Mutwii and Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba during the burial ceremony for Wilson Kiprugut Chumo at Kipsigis Girls High School in Kericho County on November 12, 2022.

Photo credit: Vitalis Kimutai | Nation Media Group

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Namwamba said successive governments since independence were to blame for failing to honour those who flew the Kenyan flag high in international assignments.

To correct the mess, Namwamba said the Kenya Kwanza government is in the process of formulating a welfare program to cater for sportsmen and women in their retirement.

Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba on Saturday said the government is prepared to make amends after admitting that the country has mistreated her sportsmen and women by failing to recognise, reward and treat them as heroes and heroines.

Namwamba said successive governments since independence were to blame for failing to honour those who flew the Kenyan flag high in international assignments.

To correct the mess, Namwamba said the Kenya Kwanza government is in the process of formulating a welfare program to cater for sportsmen and women in their retirement.

Namwamba was speaking at Kipsigis Girls’ High school playground during the funeral service for Wilson Kiprugut Chumo, who was buried on Saturday at his Kipchebor Village in Ainamoi Constituency, Kericho County.

Kericho Governor Erick Mutai, Ainamoi Member of Parliament Benjamin Langat, Kericho  Woman Representative Beatrice Kemei,Athletics Kenya Vice President Paul Mutwii, Barnabas Korir, the AK Director for Youth, National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) Treasurer Anthony Kariuki, legendary athlete Kipchoge Keino and thousands of mourners attended the burial.

Namwamba said the ministry will honour Kiprugut by constructing a new stadium and naming it after him in Kericho.

This comes after failed promises of renaming the Kericho Green Stadium after the fallen legend, who won Kenya's first medal in the Olympic Games after bagging bronze in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in 800 metres.

“We must honour Kiprugut posthumously and give him an award. Under this new government, we shall take better care of our sportsmen and women,” Namwamba said.

“This is the great Kenyan who cleared the way, set the standards, motivated generations upon generations of world beaters from Kenya.”

“I am under instructions from the President (William Ruto) to ensure we start a welfare program for sports people in their retirement so they can lead dignified lives. We will consult all stakeholders in a few days to come,” added Namwamba.

"Retired sportsmen have been wallowing in poverty, others have no medical schemes and have accumulated bills in hospitals, with the government failing to assist the families to take care of the heroes or even offer decent burial

“It is unfortunate that subsequent governments have awarded state commendations to busybodies while the real heroes the likes of Kiprugut who put the country in the world map have not been recognised."

“This great man (Kipturgut) we are laying to rest today here and Kipchoge Keino seated with us, set a strong record of competing and winning clean. They set the stage for their peers, the current and future athletes in this country,” Namwamba stated.

Kiprugut developed breathing complications on Tuesday last week at his home and was rushed to Siloam Hospital where died while undergoing treatment.

Namwamba was reacting calls from speakers during the burial ceremony that wanted the Kericho Green Stadium named after Kiprugut as promised by local leaders in the past.

"Show me the land where we should build a stadium that will be called Wilson Kiprugut Chumo Memorial Stadium. It will be something that is world class and we must commit to that now," Namambwa stated.

Former Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony repeatedly promised to change the name of Kericho Green Stadium to Kiprugut Chumo, but failed to honour the pledge for the 10 years he was in office.

Mutwii and AK South Rift chairman John Wachira set the ball rolling stating that the Kericho Green Stadium should be renamed after the Kenyan great.

“When Kiprugut was competing internationally, little did he know that he would set the standards for future generations. We are here to celebrate his life and ask athletes to emulate his discipline and patriotism,” Mutwii said.

Wachira added: “The only way to remember Kiprugut is to fulfill the pledge of renaming the local stadium for the future generations to remember his achievements."

Governor Mutai had in his speech stated that he will ensure the change of name is done as promised.

But Namwamba's pledge has shifted the gears to the national government.

On the doping menace, Namwamba warned the culprits that will be dealt with like hard drugs traffickers.

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