Nairobi News

Sports

The long overdue sports lottery should be hastened

Officials of the Kenya Amputee Federation are still detained at the Sports View Hotel over unpaid bills a month after the Africa cup football championship ended in Nairobi.

Out of pity, well-wishers donated money which was not enough to offset the Sh3.8 million owed to the hotel where the participants stayed.

This embarrassment came about after the Government backed out at the last minute, throwing the amputees’ plans in disarray.

Similarly, the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) Senior Challenge Cup, which ended last month, was another humiliating episode in Kenyan sports. The tournament held in Nairobi, left organisers with egg on their faces.

Although they tried to put up a brave face, the poor preparations were bare for all to see. The losing finalists Sudan were blocked from leaving the hotel because of non-payment of bills. Amidst the confusion, Harambee Stars won the delayed final.

The hotel management said it acted that way because they did not trust the organisers to offset the arrears after the tournament, going by previous empty promises. The Government stepped in to save face. The list of incidents afflicting teams is endless.

It is a common feature in the news for teams to skip international championships because of financial constraints. Often times, they are at the mercy of sponsors. From skating, hockey, volleyball to basketball – the story is the same.

Establishing a National Sports Lottery as envisaged in the Sports Bill 2012 is expected to address these challenges facing sportsmen and federations.

But the associations will have to wait a little longer for the lottery to take effect as the government and the Licensing and Control Board work out the mode of operation.

Sports Commissioner Gordon Oluoch said the ministry had begun the implementation process that will be complete in April.

“We are thrashing out the finer details to ensure that this time round, the lottery is a reality after previous failed attempts. We’re committed to the plan,” said Oluoch.

The idea of a sports lottery is long overdue, the fund ought to be up and running to help our talented sportsmen achieve full potential.

Think of the benefits we reap when our sportsmen do us proud at major events. Athletes are our best ambassadors and it is instructive that we give them all the help available. They bring pride to the nation when they win medals.

Once the lottery is in place, individuals will no longer dip into their pockets to bail out stranded national teams. The shameful treatment teams receive from mean-looking hotel managers because of lack of cash, will be a thing of the past.

Sports is one of the few sectors that continue bubbling with good news in the wake of recent negative publicity brought on by terrorist attacks and the ICC cases following the 2007/8 clashes that engulfed Kenya after a botched presidential election.

The fund will inspire young talents to reach for their dreams with the assurance of reaping rewards.

Kenya has the capability of increasing its medal catch if more sports disciplines besides athletics are included at major events.

Stakeholders must fast-track the process of setting up a lottery to save our sportsmen the disgrace of unleashing begging bowls each time they want to represent Kenya at a championship.