The imminent appointment of a new Sports Cabinet Secretary is one which the sports-loving public will be awaiting with bated breath, particularly after the reign of Hassan Wario.
While the outgoing CS may want to take credit for the country hosting July’s IAAF World Under-18 Championships, and the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup won by Harambee Stars in December, stakeholders will affirm that both competitions went on with little or no input from the CS.
But still, Wario must be given credit for helping pass the Sports Act and launching the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya to curb the then increasing cases of doping among the country’s elite athletes.
But it is the numerous failures, like those of his predecessors, that remain in many of sports stakeholders consciousness.
PROACTIVE SPORTS CS
First, the failure to keep their promise of building five international standard stadiums and the embarrassing act of the country failing to host the Africa Nations Championship football tournament despite having been given the rights by the Confederation of African Football.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, in his final term, must now appoint a proactive Sports CS if he is to live up to his promise of putting the youth agenda first.
It’s not lost on many that the youth were the bedrock of the President’s re-election support and it is them that benefit directly from sports.
The next Sports CS must be one who loves, or has direct interest in, sports.
We shouldn’t just appoint someone just because we want to plug in the gap. We are tired of beginners, who take four years to learn the ropes in the Ministry.
While it is understandable that very few former sportsmen meet the requisite standards for a CS, it behoves of the President to consider them for this key ministry.
The recent tiff between the government and the betting firms over the increased tax doesn’t bode well for sports and only a lover of sports would understand the impact of these companies exit with the games they support.
DEDICATED SPORTS MINISTRY
Should the government stand by their decision, then the President must look for ways to plug the budgetary holes that many sports associations and federations will face.
But again, we need someone who understands sports to ensure everything in back top normal.
In a year when the country’s athletes will be going for the Commonwealth Games and Harambee Stars will be competing to qualify for the African Cup of Nations in the wake of the end of their half a billion five-year deal with SportPesa, an increase in the Sports ministry’s budget is one that should be considered and, possibly, the creation of a dedicated sports ministry.
The sports lottery that has been touted for many years should finally become a reality under the new Cabinet Secretary as it is only that way that sports disciplines can stop depending on private entities.
It is for these reasons that the next Sports CS should be a true lover of sport.