What you need to know:
- In his well-received, Obama-esque speech before an audience of academics, politicians, a cocktail of professionals and students at the CUEA’s auditorium, Bhojani was also excited at the developments taking place in Texas where the sport of cricket has regained prominence.
Visiting American trailblazing politician and corporate lawyer Salman Bhojan has stressed the need for early development of sports talent from elementary schools in order to create a winning sports culture.
Speaking at the Catholic University of East Africa (CUEA) in Nairobi on Wednesday when he delivered the keynote address at the Kenya-USA Educational Talk Programme, the Pakistan-born Bhojani described celebrated American swimmer Michael Phelps as an example of the fruits of early talent development.
“Michael Phelps, in swimming, started when he was two-three years old… It is important if we can have a culture where sports is prioritised in as early as elementary schools, because passion comes at an early age and if you are a natural, that will set you apart,” the Democratic Member of the Texas House of Representatives from the 92nd District stated.
Bhojani, 43, broke the glass ceiling when he became the first Muslim-American to ascend to elected office in the City of Euless, Texas.
Last year, Bhojani, who migrated from his birthplace of Karachi, Pakistan, to Montreal in Canada at the age of 10 to escape from the harsh socio-economic conditions before relocating to USA, was elected to the Texas Hose of Representatives, becoming the first Muslim or South Asian to be voted into the Texas House.
In his well-received, Obama-esque speech before an audience of academics, politicians, a cocktail of professionals and students at the CUEA’s auditorium, Bhojani was also excited at the developments taking place in Texas where the sport of cricket has regained prominence.
“America was one of the first adopters of cricket, but because of their hate for the UK or the British, they started to build their own sport of baseball and then cricket died in America,” he said at the symposium titled “Kenya-US Educational Partnership: Bridging borders through learning.”
“But now cricket is coming back… in fact in my own district in Texas, we built a huge cricket stadium where people are playing internationally, and we will be hosting a Cricket World Cup in the near future in my district as well.”
He was referring to the Grand Prairie Cricket Stadium which will host some matches of the 2024 T20 World Cup in June and July.
Bhojani was optimistic that the enhanced US-Kenya relations would be beneficial to sport.
“I’d like to reach out and see how we can work together to build more sports… let’s figure out who is scouting for football players. It doesn’t really matter what country you come from. If you play really well, we want your talent,” he noted.
His sentiments were shared by Maxwell Okello, the Chief Executive Officer at the American Chamber of Commerce in Kenya (AmCham), who noted that Wednesday’s official opening of the US National Basketball Association (NBA) office in Nairobi is a great example of the rich potential of US-Kenya sporting relations.
“Sports is fundamental. This (NBA office) is a really great development for that particular sport. Beyond sport there is a greater opportunity also in the creative economy,” Okello noted.
CUEA Vice-Chancellor Stephen Mbugua Ngari noted that the inclusion of sport as a key element in the Competency-Based Curriculum of Education in Kenya will help spur talent development.
Wednesday’s symposium was organised by Lightpulse in collaboration with CUEA and was also addressed by Yetkin Tildirim the Director of STEM Projects at USA’s Rice University and Peter Changilwa Kigwilu, the Director of Quality Assurance at the United States International University-Africa.
Lightpulse is the owner of the Light Group of Schools in Kenya.