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NYENDE: Having official fact book would be an assured legacy for any head of Kenyan sports body

Tuesday June 02 2020
jordan_pix

In this file photo former NBA star and owner of Charlotte Hornets team Michael Jordan looks on as he addresses a press conference ahead of the NBA basketball match between Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Hornets at The AccorHotels Arena in Paris on January 24, 2020. PHOTO | FRANCK FIFE | AFP

By CHARLES NYENDE

America, the land of the free, has given the world so many life-changing inventions, including those that have revolutionised the way we communicate.

I can straight up mention the computer, mouse pad, cellular phone, iPhone, email, photoshop, Wi-Fi, YouTube, and Google. In fact, thanks to Internet search engine Google, I have quickly come up with the above list.

America also gave us the game of basketball sometime in 1891, never mind that it was a Canadian in Massachusetts who created the game.

Something else that America has given to the world, and I have not needed Google or reference to history books to confirm, is excellent cinema production.

The best movies, documentaries and any story told in moving pictures that I have watched have been produced by Americans.

God may have been in a foul mood to give USA the unconventional, utterly insensitive, dastardly and divisive narcissist Donald Trump as their president, but He must have been magnanimous to bestow the Americans with such admirable skills of directing and producing movies that we, the rest of the world, can only enjoy in admirable appreciation.

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I recently watched the riveting “The Last Dance”, a 10-part documentary series on Michael Jordan and the invincible Chicago Bulls, and the NBA dynasty they built covering a decade.

Co-produced by ESPN and Netflix, I would put the Last Dance up there with Fox’s compelling television series “24” and the (American) hero role of lead actor Jack Bauer.

There is really no doubt, and this is no spite to LeBron James, MJ is the greatest basketball player of all time. The buzz “The Last Dance” created on social media tells you it was a series to behold.

Several Kenyans loudly wondered why such a documentary cannot be made about our sports and teams.

I literally laughed out loudly. How? Where will the footage come from? Does it even exist?

I can wager you two sausages accompanied by, you know what these Covid-19 times, if you can get footage of, say, the late Joe Kadenge or Allan Thigo in all matches they featured in for AFC Leopards, Gor Mahia and Harambee Stars.

The sad reality is that Kenya’s television industry has seemingly been so averse to sports, live production was practically non-existent in the early years of the country's birth and even now is considered an afterthought rather than a viable economic and cultural venture.

This got me thinking further. The situation is clearly the same with our sports literature. There is no federation or team that has compiled official records of their activities from their respective dates of formation to date.

A factbook of sorts, recording all the official statistics of the teams or the federations’ activities.

Find me one and I will point you an incorruptible Kenyan politician.

The consequence of this glaring anomaly is saddening. There is no authoritative reference to indicate, say, which Harambee Stars player has been most capped in history, how many caps; how many Test matches Kenya Simbas have played since independence; how many matches Malkia Strikers have gone unbeaten, under whose reign. And on, and on.

Where are the official records for your national and elite teams in all sports?

The most a journalist or researcher for that matter can get for these queries is going through newspaper cuttings and perhaps interviewing the concerned sports persons to corroborate a narrative.

But the records in newspapers are not official. Is it any wonder that up till now it has never been settled on who officially won the Kenyan Premier League title in 1971?

Some say AFC Leopards, while others aver the league never ended conclusively!

It would make more sense to me, for instance, if the FKF, instead of practically throwing money away in an all advised Sh125-million (Outside Broadcast) OB van purchase that was never delivered, invested a fraction of that money in producing an official Kenyan football fact book from independence to date. 

The book would contain statistics on all the games played by Kenya, all the Kenyan Premier League and first division matches, all the players involved, all the goals scored, etc, plus anecdotes of the big matches, controversial ones and bizarre ones. Same for the other federations.

I am glad that some people have been doing research on some of our sports – Gishinga Njoroge, Roy Gachuhi on football, John Kagagi and Paul Okong’o on rugby. But official records are crying out to be compiled.

Federations need to treat these ventures as urgent for posterity. And time is running out.

Many of our elite athletes of the 1950s and 1960s are departing this earth in old age, their precious sports memories going with them.

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