What you need to know:
- The surface of play is probably the most revolutionary aspect of sports infrastructure in this century
- Every sport through in-depth scientific research has developed the latest model of surface to attain the highest standard of performance
- Most expert analysts of Kenyan tennis have attributed the poor surface to the technical standards of the players and this change ensures tennis standards in Kenya will positively change
Sports are a popular activity watched by billions of people around the world. In the spirit of the Olympics motto of “Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together”, human beings have been able to show the lengths and depths to which the body can be trained to perform some of the greatest skills ever known to man.
My favourite is the synchronised swimming and gymnastics. The level of skill, coordination, flexibility and execution of the drills is simply breathtaking. Football fans have photographic memories of some of the greatest goals. We are in the world of precision in sports!
The surface of play is probably the most revolutionary aspect of sports infrastructure in this century. Every sport through in-depth scientific research has developed the latest model of surface to attain the highest standard of performance.
For a long time with the emergence of football on television, debates raged on whether the surface was grass or carpet.
Perennial rye grass was not familiar and the default thinking was that the surface was carpet! Fast forward to our football which is played on a surface where not only is the grass inappropriate it also has military drills done on it.
This “carpet” concept has been employed in different sports with Astro turf, synthetic rubber, hard maple, concrete and asphalt, some of the surfaces used in modern sport with appropriate shoes to match.
It is therefore very exciting that over 100 years later, Kenya will now have “appropriate” surface tennis courts at the Nairobi Club. This has been home to lawn tennis and despite the unconventional murram surface, it still produced top level players. In the recent past, hosting rights were denied on account of the surface.
Most expert analysts of Kenyan tennis have attributed the poor surface to the technical standards of the players and this change ensures tennis standards in Kenya will positively change.
The bounce of the ball was so irregular that timing of the shot, movement to strike and sufficient step to recover could not be achieved consistently to attain required standards.
The World Cup of Women Tennis in Africa will be first to enjoy the newly renovated courts this month.
As we prepare for Paris 2024 Olympics, the matter of playing surfaces should be under focus.
Kenya hockey team, which we expect to qualify in the biennial Games in October must train on an international standard surface. Currently, the only field used by the federation is in poor state. Our players will not be able to develop skills required in modern hockey if they train on bumpy grounds.
Good surfaces ensure a player can manage the speed, distance and trajectory of a ball on the ground.
Basketball and volleyball, both indoor sports have an equally big challenge. Facilities with surfaces which can pass the standards are either at Nyayo or Kasarani.
Raising standards of our sports requires re-looking critically at our playing surfaces.
Mutuku is the Secretary General at the National Olympic Committee of Kenya.