Pay attention to sports heroes and heroines


A total of 17 medals, seven of them gold, won  in an international  sports  competition  is by no means  a mean achievement  for  a  poor country that boasts  no sophisticated   sporting facilities. Behind  superpowers  United States  and Russia , Kenya  ranked  third   overall in the medal  standings  at the  just  concluded  International Amateur Athletics   Federation   (IAAF) Championships  in  Daegu, South Korea. No better words can describe Kenya’s performance in these competitions.

It is not in doubt that Kenya is a superpower in track events.

For every medal won, there was a pledge of cash rewards from individuals and companies as a token of appreciation for the sterling performance. As a mark of recognition, employers of some of these track stars promoted them. Flowers and gourds of milk from relatives are some of the gifts to the heroes on arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. These are laudable gestures but fall below expectations and hardly match the effort.

The country boasts abundant sporting talent but the   political leadership has not taken seriously the participants in various disciplines. Instead, institutions have sponsored sports as part of their corporate responsibility.

For instance, sporting heroes should be given freedom of cities, streets named after them   and special seats reserved for them during national day celebrations. Under no circumstances should honouring national heroes be negotiated.

Unlike  Kenya, some countries  celebrate any medal  won in an international competition and leaders  turn up  at the  airports  to meet  their  heroes  and heroines  on return  from  an international competition.

Kenyan athletes  have over the years done the  country proud  at the  Olympic,  Commonwealth  and  All Africa Games  respectively and it  is the  contention of many Kenyans   that  apart from the cash rewards and promotions , there are  better  ways  of rewarding  such stars. Against  all odds, Kenyans  still  shine  in  various  sports  disciplines  like rugby, football   and lately basketball .
Sports  stars have been given a raw deal  at home  and opted  to take citizenship of other  countries  who  recognise  talent  and abilities. It is  time we stopped  the  migration of sportsmen and women  to other  countries and  instead   nurture talent   by  putting up  sports  academies  in the   counties.

It defeats  reason and common sense that officials  compiling  honour  list  of those  to be decorated hardly  consider  sports heroes  but would rather  submit names of friends   and relatives  to  the  authority  for consideration.  Some  of  the people  in the annual  list  of  honours presented for decorations   are  unknown  and  one  would  wonder the criteria  followed  in choosing such nondescripts.

The big  question is,  why  should it be standard practice to decorate  every cabinet minister including  those  who preside over  mega scams but forget the  athletes in whose  honour a  national  flag is hoisted and anthem  played  in the country’s  honor? It is  time  the  government  gave a serious  thought  to  national  decorations  and give  sportsmen and women  the  attention they deserve.

The writer is a former cabinet minister and one time Secretary General of the then ruling party, Kenya African National Union (KANU)

4 Replies to “Pay attention to sports heroes and heroines”

  1. JJ should just give us a break, he was in a similar government for a long time and did nothing concerning the same issue. As Kenyans we appreciate our athletes and other sportsmen but we also understand the current government has its hands full with various needs. Let Kamotho take a rest and let the govt perform it duties, the athletes know appreciation is not only in form of monetary terms.

  2. I do agree with Mheshimiwa Kamotho,its time we as a country appreciate talent through actions.We should have a policy paper on nurturing talent e.g to have County Theatres and County Sport Academies  taken to parliament.The government should also consider building houses for those who make Kenya proud internationally!

  3. “The writer is a former cabinet minister and one time
    Secretary General of the then ruling party, Kenya African National Union

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