The fast pace in the renovation of the Nyayo National Stadium, the country’s second-biggest sporting facility after the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, is a welcome step by the Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts under the stewardship of Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and Principal Secretary Joe Okudo.
With Kenya set to play host to a raft of international events in the next five months, not least the World Athletics Continental Tour and the World Athletics Under-20 Championships, conclusion of refurbishment of the Nyayo National Stadium is long overdue.
The revamping, however, should not only be limited to the stands and the amenities within, but also a new tartan track should be laid to host future athletics events.
Now that the country has been adopted as a prime candidate to host key international athletics events, the onus is on the various levels of government to ensure that facilities across the country that have been left derelict or whose repairs have been left hanging are swiftly concluded.
The issues of last-minute renovations of sports infrastructure, particularly when events are being held, should be a thing of the past.
The Kipchoge Keino Stadium, the Ruring'u Stadium, the Kamariny Stadium all which have been earmarked for redevelopment in the past, should be quickly fixed to ensure the country is ready to host any world-class sports event. The development and nurturing of talent at the grassroots level hinges on the availability of proper infrastructure for training.
If facilities are standard, then it goes without saying that the depth of talent that emerges from such places would be of a higher quality. For years, our athletes have trained in abject venues but performed wonders in world-class facilities.
So it’s not hard to imagine how good they would be if they were accustomed to using quality facilities.
It is time for the governments, both county and national, to work together and ensure our sportsmen and women have what they want.
The availability of training venues at the grassroots will undoubtedly lead to an increase in the number of youths taking up sports as a profession as is the case in the developed world.
The promise to use much of the money in the sports fund for improving sports infrastructure should be religiously followed if the country is to fulfil its potential in the sector of sports and entertainment which is one of the biggest employers in many parts of the world.
Korir is the chairman of Athletics Kenya’s Nairobi branch.