Time for our sports stars to give back

Monday March 30 2020

Janeth Jepkosgei jogging with athletes from Central Rift World Under-20 camp at Kapchemoiywo, Nandi. PHOTO | FILE |


With entire sporting calendars thrust aside by the marauding coronavirus, it has been uplifting seeing the contribution sport continues to make in the fight against the pandemic.

On Monday, it was disclosed that Formula One champion manufacturers Mercedes have come up with technology that can aid the ailing.

Developed in partnership with the University College London, Mercedes’ “continuous positive airway pressure” (CPAP) device helps stand in for the oxygen mask, keeping patients away from intensive care need.

The fact that the technology by the German auto giants doesn’t require a ventilator and can reliably deliver oxygen to the lungs could be a game-changer in the fight against the Covid-19 disease.

News reports yesterday indicated that, already, 40 such devices have been delivered to London hospitals and if they prove to be reliable after going through mandatory tests, then Mercedes’ mechanical division will produce up to 1,000 such units daily from next week.

At the moment, raking in constructors’ and drivers’ points is the least of Mercedes’ worries as the suspended Formula One season has offered them an opportunity to use their technology for the good of mankind. A chance to give back.

Equally, global sports stars have, at individual levels, also dug in and directed part of their hard-earned earnings towards the fight against the monster from Wuhan.

From cricket stars Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Koli, Shahid Afridi to footballers Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and tennis great Roger Federer, sporting icons have come to the rescue.

And fittingly so as they are aiding the very people who dedicate a good part of their meagre resources to purchase expensive match-day tickets as they file through turnstiles to watch these stars strut their stuff.

And a huge chunk of these match day revenues ends up in the stars’ accounts, so they might just as well reciprocate.

It has been heart-warming to see Afridi, in particular, spend the last few days personally dishing out rescue packages, including disinfectant soap and food, to the fragile communities in Pakistan with as much enthusiasm as he exhibits when he hits grass-cutting fours and towering sixes.

Back home, it was gratifying to see Harambee Stars players, skipper Victor Wanyama and fellow midfielders Johanna Omollo and Francis Kahata, reach out to the vulnerable with donations to cushion them as Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe continues to lead us in the battle against the scourge.

With the national count of positive cases at 50, as at the CS’s brief yesterday, and certainly rising, such gestures give us hope, and offer the incentive to turn out whenever Harambee Stars are in action to scream ourselves hoarse in backing these players.

Whereas giving is purely personal choice and, of course, voluntary, it would be warming to see more of our well-heeled athletes and artistes come to the aid of the needy during these difficult times.

Scenes witnessed in Eldoret’s sprawling Langas estate on Sunday night, when some defied the dusk-to-dawn curfew orders, arguing that their dusk business operations put bread on their table, are regrettable.

These walala hoi (hustlers) are caught between a rock and a hard place, and are now on the receiving end of police batons and teargas.

These are the members of our society that need our support, and most certainly support from blessed athletes whom they serially cheer on empty stomachs.

I stand corrected, but in recent times, not a single elite athlete has been to Langas to show support the poor, perhaps the warmth of their leafy Elgon View mansions too comforting to abandon, the “stay at home” matra a welcome excuse.

We shout our lungs out when our marathon legends cruise through the 42 kilometres to bank tidy sums in the process.

We scream when they breast the tape, and shed tears of joy when our national anthem is played in their honour in global capitals.

We are told some have bank accounts that run into hundreds of millions.

Our support for them is undivided as they battle against the clock to make history across global capitals, telling us “no human is limited.”

While they have every right to keep their heard-earned cash in fixed deposits, it behooves them to at least show some warm gesture during these troubled times.

Most of our stars continue to give back, though.

Like former world 800 metres champions Janeth Jepkosgei and Eunice Sum, who launched an academy for upcoming talent and are running school programmes in Nandi County.

Or former world marathon record holder Wilson Kipsang, who continues to help the poor in Elgeyo-Marakwet County, including building homes for the homeless.

There are several other illustrious individuals.

Equally, there are numerous examples of blessed runners whose dollar accounts can shock the Central Bank Governor, yet they never care to give back to the very society that helped them break even.

Some won’t even care to record messages of goodwill to Kenyans, gratis, during these troubled times.

But, hey, here’s a chance for them to demonstrate that, indeed, no human is limited, even in caring for the less fortunate.

Especially now that Covid-19 seems to show no respect for rich or poor, fast or slow.

The coronavirus has indeed exposed our limitations, and has shown that our bank balances can, after all, count for nothing.

When mankind is swept away, who will be at the finish line to cheer our record-breaking stars?

Makori is the Editor (Sports) at Nation Media Group. [email protected]