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Make merry and dig in, but be ready for busy 2019

Monday December 24 2018
By ELIAS MAKORI

Merry Christmas!

As we dig into the sumptuous holiday offerings, let it not be lost on us that, in a few days’ time, a fresh, high-adrenalin sporting season will launch.

And an extremely busy one at that.

To the active sportsmen and women, remember to: east slowly; exercise; handle alcohol carefully, or not at all (actually active sportspeople shouldn’t imbibe liquor); plan ahead; be mindful of what you eat and choose healthy alternatives.

Most importantly, let’s remember to share with the less fortunate and bring them the Christmas cheer.

That’s the little piece of advice I’d love to share as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ today and bring yet another, largely successful sporting year to an end.

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Kudos to Toby Tanser and our elite athletes in the North Rift for bringing the traditional Christmas smiles to the faces of little ones at Eldoret’s Shoe4Africa Children's Hospital.
Would rather plunder
Over the years, Tanser, an American athlete-philanthropist, has flown into the North Rift and led in using sport to make lives better for the underprivileged, especially in the fields of education and healthcare.
From scratch, Tanser has raised funds to construct the Shoe4Africa Children's Hospital, the region’s biggest specialist children’s hospital.

A selfless example we should seek emulate as citizens of this beloved nation, especially the well-heeled national sports administrators who would rather plunder already scarce resources, than give back to society.

This is a season when some high performance athletes are tempted to let their guards down only to regret days into the new season as they struggle to shed off excess weight and get their form back.

Thankfully, Football Kenya Federation’s rescheduling of the football season means that the 2018-19 leagues are already underway with fixtures astride the holidays, implying that players must keep fit and resist the temptations of over-indulging during these holidays.

In fact, tomorrow, there are two Boxing Day fixtures on the cards with Gor Mahia - still mourning their ejection from the lucrative Caf Champions League – back down to earth with a date against Posta Rangers and Nzoia Sugar up against Kariobangi Sharks, another side jettisoned from continental action.

Next year will provide huge challenges, with Harambee Stars’ having qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations football finals for only the first time since 2004 when they lost in the preliminary rounds in Bizerte, Tunisia, under celebrated coach Jacob “Ghost” Mulee.

It means our serially blundering footballers must hit form early, avoid hangovers and put up a decent showing in Egypt or South Africa, wherever the Africa Cup of Nations finals will finally be held following the stripping of hosting rights from an unprepared Cameroon.

Being a pre-Olympic year, qualification tournaments will form an important part of the programme in 2019 as we build-up towards the Tokyo 2020 Games.

There’s no gainsaying the fact that proper planning is essential if we are to make a mark in Tokyo.

We hope to see the incessant tug-of-war over the administration of the National Sports Fund kitty brought to an amicable end so that our teams get financial allocation early to prepare for these qualification tournaments.

The Ministry of Sport and Heritage clearly doesn’t have the financial muscle to transform our sport, and we must now look elsewhere with the National Sports Fund the main hope for salvation alongside partnerships with private concerns.

Equally, we hope to see the ghosts of the Rio 2016 management malfeasance finally exorcised, those found culpable in the rot prosecuted and a clean build-up to Tokyo embraced.

Meanwhile, Telkom Kenya’s 10th title at the Africa women’s club championships in Abuja last weekend implied that, with proper planning, such success can form a firm foundation of the national team’s qualification for the Olympics.

It’s sad that Kenya’s representatives to the continental men’s tournament – Kenya Police and Butali Sugar – failed to travel to Abuja.

They denied the Kenyan game an important opportunity to assess our standards as we wait to tackle the Olympic qualifiers.

As we take stock, let’s make merry with one eye on the extremely busy 2019 season that lies in wait.

On behalf of the Sports Desk at Nation Media Group, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a successful sporting year, 2019.

Be blessed.

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