President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday hosted the Tokyo-bound national women’s volleyball team at State House, Mombasa. The President had invited the Malkia Strikers to the coastal city to celebrate with them after they qualified for the Tokyo Olympics following their victory at the Africa qualifying tournament in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Malkia Strikers qualified for Summer Olympics Games after 16 years, completing a clean run where they crushed hosts Cameroon, Nigeria, Egypt and Botswana. They become the third sports team from Kenya to qualify for the Games after the women’s and men’s rugby Sevens teams.
It is inspiring and heart-warming for the President to host the team, as it will help build morale ahead of the Tokyo battle. But the government should now walk the talk and help Malkia Strikers prepare accordingly for the Games.
Self-belief, determination and discipline put the team through in Yaoundé, having not had any meaningful build-up, while their rivals Egypt and Cameroon trained in Brazil and Europe, respectively. Credible build-up matches should not only be organised for Malkia Strikers but the players must be remunerated accordingly.
They should not head for Tokyo to fill in the numbers but have their best-ever international outing.
Besides Malkia Strikers, the government should also explore how the men and women’s rugby teams will prepare. The men’s rugby team, especially, are strong medal prospects.
In a nutshell, the country should embrace a solid rewards scheme, not recognition at the behest of the President. The Sports Ministry should wake up and smell the coffee.
The President really does need to act for those in the Sports ministry to wake up. We need change at the ministry especially with Joe Okudo back as Sports Principal Secretary.