All not lost with Chan, universities must step up

Sunday October 1 2017

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta with IAAF World Under-18 Championships chief executive Mwangi Muthee (second right), Kenyatta University acting Vice Chancellor Paul Wainaina (third right) and the championships’ deputy director of accommodation Peter Angwenyi during an inspection tour of accommodation facilities for the championships’ Athletes’ Village at Kenyatta University on July 4, 2017. PHOTO | FILE |

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta with IAAF World Under-18 Championships chief executive Mwangi Muthee (second right), Kenyatta University acting Vice Chancellor Paul Wainaina (third right) and the championships’ deputy director of accommodation Peter Angwenyi during an inspection tour of accommodation facilities for the championships’ Athletes’ Village at Kenyatta University on July 4, 2017. PHOTO | FILE |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By PAUL WAINAINA
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The heartbreaking news that Kenya has lost the opportunity to host the continental football tournament, the Africa Nations Championship (Chan), is incredibly sad given the preparations that had gone into hosting the tourney thus far.

Despite the sad news, this may well be a teachable moment and offer lessons to be learnt by local university administrators.

Kenyatta University was one of the designated venues for the tournament as the training ground for the referees selected to officiate matches during the tournament.

We had put up an elaborate calendar to prepare for Chan using our newly established facilities including the training grounds, a new tartan running track currently in the process of installation by Spain based Mondo Company and even offered our hotel facilities to host the referees and officials.

THREE-STAR HOTEL

All new track and field equipment have been delivered for the project.

Our desire to be part of this big tourney came out of our demonstrated experience to play host and deliver credible games last July.

Kenyatta University was the designated athlete’s village for the July 2017 IAAF World Under-18 Championships in which we hosted over 2,500 athletes and officials from close to 140 countries.

The highly successful championships required team effort working closely with the government, the Local Organizing Committee and a determined team of KU staffers to deliver credible a successful championship.

SPORTING HUB

The process involved converting six student’s hostels and upgrading them to three-star hotel facilities, refurbishment of the kitchens, internal road network and enhanced security to meet IAAF standards.

With the championships over, our vision is to now use the facilities to help market the institution as a sporting hub in the region that can serve both regional and international events.

Kenyatta University was voted the number one university in sports in the region in 2016 by CPC International, a reputed international rating firm.

Our desire is to work with the government to allow us to use the facilities to promote sports culture across the country and region.

And if the government agrees to provide funds, the university plans to develop new hostels for the regular students and dedicate the renovated ones for hosting sporting events.

The success of the championships, I am sure, has inspired Kenya to challenge and offer to play host to major championships including Chan, IAAF grand prix events and other major global events that have remained hosted in Europe, Asia or North America.

The successful hosting the IAAF 2017 World Under-18 Championships offers lessons for other public and private universities to upgrade their facilities and offer them to international organisations.

It may sound lofty but there is no reason why Kenyan universities, with the right management and support from our government cannot deliver world class games and allow our youth to interact and play host to other young people from around the world.

PROPER MANAGEMENT

Sports is a powerful and uniting factor in a world filled with conflict, disasters, hunger and other challenges.

It is one of the reasons sports is accorded prominence at KU that includes having the only sports academy in Africa.

It is Also one of the reasons KU has dominated the regional university games for the last 10 years.

The Kenyatta University strategic plan envisions the construction of a global standard stadium with a capacity of over 30,000 complete with a running track and a football field.

When actualised, it will allows KU to compete on equal footing for hosting of important sporting events and complement government efforts to put up stadiums around the country.

We want to embark on this journey with other private and public universities to take sports seriously by improving their infrastructure not just for their students but to empower them to play a bigger global sports role for Kenya.

With the right vision, proper management of resources and state support, local Universities could be the next breeding grounds for the next Lionel Messi, Victor Wanyama and David Rudisha.

Kenya has built a major brand as a sports nation. Now it is time to take the brand to the next level by demonstrating that we have the capacity and facilities to play host to big sporting events.

And that journey can start with our universities.

The writer is acting Vice Chancellor, Kenyatta University