New Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Heritage Ambassador Amina Mohammed finally took over her new office at Kencom House, Nairobi in a brief ceremony attended by her predecessor Rashid Echesa on Tuesday.
The career diplomat, who has now handled Foreign Affairs and Education ministries before landing at the Sports docket, is already facing resistance from sports enthusiasts who are of the opinion that the docket has been not treated with the seriousness it deserves by the Jubilee government.
But with a busy year ahead and most federations and clubs struggling to attract sponsorship, Mohammed’s plate is already full to the brim before she even makes her first speech.
Financing of sports events has been a big challenge not only to the government but respective federations in the country.
Over the last few years, the ministry has been riddled with graft cases and allegations of favouritism in key appointments and nepotism - a common feature in sports federations in the country.
Will she reign in on the cartels in the federations?
All eyes will be on Mohammed with over 28 national federations expected to stretch their begging bowls at the ministry’s Kencom House headquarters, looking for funds.
With the Sports Fund now activated after the formation of the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund Oversight Board led by Athletics Kenya President Jackson Tuwei, it’s up to Mohammed to give leadership and direction.
Mohammed will have to ensure that the newly formed board utilises resources at its disposal to restore the country’s sporting glory, promote the arts and preserve the rich national heritage.
The board will now foresee the building of strong national teams through provision of adequate funding as well as branding and provision of the necessary supplies they need to excel.
The board will manage some of the proceeds from the 15 per cent that is taxed on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming companies where the Sports ministry will have 55 per cent under their control - with 35 per cent meant for Sports.
Perhaps the most immediate assignment for Mohammed is the hosting of next year’s IAAF World Under-20 Championships where the government is expected to spend close to Sh2.5 billion.
STARS PREPARE FOR EGYPT
Harambee Stars will also be in focus as they prepare for this year’s Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt where Sh 200 million is required for their preparations.
The country’s journey to have the Safari Rally back in the World Rally Championship calendar in 2020. Safari Project has received Sh250 million towards the event with the Candidate Rally expected this year.
The country is also expected to grace the IAAF World Championships set for Doha, Qatar later this year among other sporting events.
In 2017, the government allocated over Sh2 billion for the refurbishment of seven county stadia across the country. The targeted stadia were Ruringu Stadium in Nyeri, Chuka (Tharaka Nithi), Kamariny (Elgeyo Marakwet), Karatu (Kiambu), Kipchoge Keino (Uasin Gishu), Makueni and Marsabit.
None of these stadiums are complete two years down the line yet funds were allocated for their construction and renovations.
The Jubilee government offered huge hopes for the country’s sporting fraternity in their manifesto where they promised five ultra-modern stadium in key areas in the country but seems it was just but a promise.
Sportsmen and women especially athletics, handball and basketball teams have continued to suffer owing to the closure of the Nyayo National Stadium for renovations for over two years now.
This is something that Mohammed should aim to unlock and ensure work at these arenas are completed.
The Sports Ministry has been on the radar and is still reeling from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games scandal that saw former CS Hassan Wario, Principal Secretary Richard Ekai and officer in charge of administration Harun Komen charged in court alongside top National Olympic Committee of Kenya officials.
Mohammed should also ensure that sports federations align themselves with the Sports Act so as to end many years of patronage by some officials in some associations.