Sports scholarships will go a long way in producing more champions

Malkia Strikers

Kenya players celebrate a point during their FIVB World Championships opening Pool A match against Netherlands at Gelredome arena in Arnhem, Netherlands on September 23, 2022.

Photo credit: Samuel Gacharira | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Like education, sports is a long term project which requires substantial resources.
  • At basic level, costs are not as high. However, with progress, at elite level it gets very expensive.

One of the most followed event  in Kenya is the release of national examination results.

Countrywide celebrations follow especially for those with exceptional grades. Certainly, this is in recognition of many years of toil, sacrifice and resource investment.

Immediately after, students are admitted to the next level of education. We have another avenue that offers scholarships geared towards pursuance of academic distinction.

Like education, sports is a long term project which requires substantial resources.

At basic level, costs are not as high. However, with progress, at elite level it gets very expensive.

Similarly, there is a strong case for sports scholarships to accelerate sports development. This is both for actual resources of the individual sports and also to cater for academic needs of the sports person.

It would be a great turnaround to our sports development if individuals and institutions would identify, after the school games, students who can benefit from long term support.

Sports equally requires the focus, effort and sustained interventions for talented athletes such as the programmes across the country that offer education scholarships to students at all levels of education.

Like the students in need of financial support to pursue their academic programmes, so do those in sports programmes, whose needs can be as basic as food and kit.

There is therefore an urgent need for us as a country to look into sports scholarships at all levels of development.

In the lead up to the Paris 2024 Olympics, the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) has provided several scholarships to athletes from 12 different sports under the IOC Solidarity Programme, a worldwide curriculum aimed at providing as many athletes as possible an opportunity to get to the Olympics.

The process of awarding these scholarships involves several parties, including national federations proposals of prospective athletes, and vetting by the National Olympic Committee and the IOC, which, in conjunction with the respective international federations confirms those who qualify to receive the scholarships.

There is a second scholarship programme focusing on Teams. NOC-K strategically awarded this to a women’s team, which, as a result, earned an additional slot for another team.

Thus the Malkia Strikers and national women’s 2x3 basketball teams, selected based on their international competitions’ performance and the current ranking internationally and continentally.

The third scholarships are the ANOCA Athletes scholarships, whose aim is to attain podium finish for African Athletes and increase the medal tally of the continent in the Olympics.

So far, only sportpersons in athletics could attain the required standards of benefiting from this scholarship. Currently, sevens athletes are going through the programme.

Brisbane 2032 Olympics is less than 10 years away. It takes 10 years to get a champion in any sport. It would be such a wonderful initiative if we started providing our athletes scholarships towards preparation and participation in Olympics.

We have successfully done it in education. There is talent out there. Let’s offer sports scholarships!

Mutuku is the Secretary General at the National Olympic Committee of Kenya. [email protected]