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By Stephen Ochieng’
With a good number of lives being transformed through sporting activities in countries with proper training structures, Kenya has once again come under the spotlight for its paltry investment in sport.
Kenya continues to do little to gain from this unexplored fortune (under development of sports) – even as studies show that our athletes are some of the most celebrated sports personalities on the global stage.
However, the number of athletes that make it to the international levels is negligible, therefore watering down the pride and the sporting potential Kenya possesses.
Investment into sport in Kenya is predominantly much less than in developed countries – with sport development usually not a top priority in the national budget or in our education system.
Studies have also shown that a vicious cycle is emerging as a result of the under development of sport in developing countries like Kenya, in which lower investment in sport decreases the potential for athletes to build their talent.
One of the major failures of Kenya is the lack of systems that foster talent development. Educational institutions have, for a long time, acted as development centers through school games, and they have proved quite effective.
However, talent development programs end in high school, while students in higher education play for leisure with no expectations whatsoever of reaping from their talents. The irony of this situation is that some of these institutions of higher learning have some of the best sporting facilities, making them suitable for talent development.
Despite the massive potential that the institutions of higher learning possess, stakeholders in the sports industry have completely turned a blind eye to this goldmine that might propel sports in the country to higher levels.
Few universities offer talent-based scholarships, and this bothers no one. Hundreds of talented students graduate from high school every year with the hope of building a better future for themselves, but they are met with the cruel situation on the ground; there are few clubs to absorb them, and their grades do not allow them to join any institute of higher learning.
These talents end up rotting in the villages, talents that could have accorded them a luxurious lifestyle and glory to the country.
One of the most successful team sport in the country currently is rugby, and a close look at the players’ profiles reveals a squad of elites who honed their skills not only in their respective clubs but also in institutions of higher learning.
This is a classical example of the significant role universities plays in bettering player performance on the field. Considering that Kenya has used schools as talent development centers, stakeholders in the sports industry should change tact and encourage a balance between sports and academics by talented children.