alexa Amina-Okudo synergy key in very busy year for Kenyan sport - Daily Nation

Amina-Okudo synergy key in very busy year for Kenyan sport

Tuesday January 28 2020

Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed (centre) speaks the press flanked by Sports Principal Secretary Joe Okudo (second left) and Sports Kenya director Fred Muteti (left) on January 22, 2020 at Nyayo National Stadium. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed (centre) speaks the press flanked by Sports Principal Secretary Joe Okudo (second left) and Sports Kenya director Fred Muteti (left) on January 22, 2020 at Nyayo National Stadium. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

ELIAS MAKORI
By ELIAS MAKORI
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Last week, Nairobi was finally granted hosting rights for the 10-meeting World Athletics Continental Tour in a decision that will most certainly transform Kenyan sport.

The May 2 Nairobi meeting -- the only African stop on the tour -- joins nine others on the 2020 roster, namely Tokyo (Japan, Asia, May 10), Nanjing (China, Asia, May 13), Ostrava (Czech Republic, Europe, May 22), Hengelo (Netherlands, Europe, June 1), Turku (Finland, Europe, June 9), Kingston (Jamaica, North America, June 13), Szekesfehervar (Hungary, Europe, July 7), Silesia (Poland, Europe, September 6) and Zagreb (Croatia, Europe, September 15).

That Nairobi joins the elite "Gold level" meetings, ahead of several other well-heeled competitions appearing lower down on the "Silver level" schedule, such as the famous ISTAF Berlin, goes to show the confidence that World Athletics President Seb Coe and his team in Monaco have placed in Kenya's organisational acumen.

Also, that Nairobi hosts the opening leg of the new series builds pressure on Athletics Kenya and the Ministry of Sports who both lobbied intensely in Monaco last November to have our capital city considered as the African stop of the new series that's in the second tier of global competitions, just a rank below the iconic Diamond League Series.

Credit must go to Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed for fighting to offer, in the nick of time, the requisite government guarantees for Nairobi to get the Continental Tour leg, especially at a time that the ministry's management was at sixes and sevens owing to a huge rift between the Cabinet Secretary and her now redeployed Principal Secretary, Kirimi Kaberia.

It was a major coup considering that the well-endowed cities of Los Angeles (USA) and Durban (South Africa) were waiting in the wings, bidding for the same competition.

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The CS seems to have, thankfully, struck instant rapport with her new PS, Joe Okudo, which portends positive times ahead for Kenyan sport.

A healthy partnership between the CS and PS is required for the seamless delivery of government projects, and the changes at Kencom House couldn't have come at a better time, especially given the heavy schedule that awaits Kenyan sport this year.

A lethargic work ethic, incessant infighting, the godfather syndrome and bloated egos at Kencom House stalled several sports projects and saw crucial wickets fall unnecessarily.

We hope that the new Amina-Okudo partnership at the crease will deliver the runs so badly required in this important innings to chalk up a decent score for Kenyan sport.

KEY ASSIGNMENTS

A focused, transparent, incorruptible and committed work force at Kencom House will enable Kenya deliver successfully on the key assignments ahead.

Most significantly the Kenya Open Golf Championship from March 12 to 15, the World Athletics Continental Tour (May 2), the World Athletics Under-20 Championships (July 7-12), World Rally Championship Safari (July 16-19), Olympic Games (July 24-August 9), Safari Sevens Rugby (October 23-25) and other commitments in between.

There's absolutely no time to politick as Kasarani must get a major facelift, immediately, to host the May 2 Continental Tour meet which comes as a blessing as it will then act as a test event for the World Under-20s.

Questions on whatever happened to the yet-to-be-laid synthetic track at Kenyatta University are still being asked after the government allowed the legacy programme from the 2017 World Under-18 Championships to slip through our fingers into the sewer. Also, the world class Media Centre put up for the 2017 championships at Kasarani was allowed to disintegrate even after Coe and foreign journalists covering the competition hailed it as "one of the best ever" at this age-group competition.

Thankfully, Nairobi will host the Continental Tour meet for at least three straight years, meaning the Ministry of Sports must put together a serious team that will ensure facilities that will be used for the inaugural meet and the subsequent Under-20s are spic and span throughout.

Even if it means putting up a temporary military camp at Kasarani to ward off incorrigible vandals that serially tear down the venue, making away with even toilet seats, door handles and bulbs as Sports Kenya, the supposed custodians of public stadiums, look on.

The management of our facilities is too important to be left to the underfunded Sports Kenya alone.

Millions of taxpayers' hard-earned cash has gone into the sewer through the all too often renovation works at Kasarani and Nyayo stadiums that also provide an avenue for "tenderpreneurs" to go for the jugular.

Meanwhile, Athletics Kenya have a lot on their plate in ensuring a sober management of the Continental Tour leg.

OUTSOURCE

Given the gargantuan task the team at Riadha House already has in putting together the World Athletics Under-20 Championships, I propose they outsource the management of the May 2 Continental Tour meeting.

Experienced 'one day meet' organising teams, such as the Netherlands-based Global Sports Communications (GSC) and Belgium's Golazo, both behind the success of Diamond League legs such as Shanghai (GSC) and Brussels (Golazo), come into mind.

GSC are also organising the Hengelo leg of the Continental Tour. These two management companies are well positioned as they also handle scores of Kenyan athletes and have the interest of Kenya at heart, apart from having been tried and tested in global track and field event management.

AK should also, in conjunction with coaches and managers, ensure our athletes are well conditioned to perform credibly on the home Continental Tour leg as well as on the Diamond League circuit.

It will be important for Nairobi to successfully host the 5,000 and 10,000 metres races, along with the 3,000m steeplechase, that have all been included in the Continental Tour having been struck off the Diamond League Series as we continue the fight for respect for distance running events on the global circuit.

Let's roll up our sleeves!

****

Rest in peace Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

Condolences to the Bryant family, the "Laker Nation," families of the fallen passengers and pilot, and also to lovers of basketball and sport generally. May God grant you the strength.
Legends don't come any bigger than Kobe.

And the shock of their sudden departure doesn't surface in more surreal fashion than Sunday night's air tragedy.

Too sad to take.

Makori is the Editor (Sports) at Nation Media Group.

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