, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 12 – The Coca Cola FIFA World Cup trophy tour has reached Kenya.
The trophy was received by President Mwai Kibaki who said its arrival was historic, and heralds great things to come in the promotion and development of sports in the country.
"Winning the World Cup trophy is every footballer’s dream and its arrival in Kenya is an opportunity to reconnect with one’s soccer ambitions and to appreciate that dreams can come true," President Kibaki said.
In this regard, the President urged young upcoming football stars and the national team, Harambee Stars, to dream big so that Kenya can take its rightful place as a great Football nation.
President Kibaki, at the same time, disclosed that the government has formed a committee to work on the modalities of inviting teams which have qualified for the FIFA World Cup to train in Kenya, before going to South Africa.
The President pointed out that Kenya, which has an excellent communication network, is easy to access from any part of the world and is only a few hours away from South Africa by air.
"I, therefore, encourage teams qualifying for the World Cup to take advantage of Kenya’s strategic location, excellent climate, sports facilities of international standards, hospitality as well as great tourism sites, and train in the country on their way to the World Cup," President Kibaki said.
President Kibaki said the 2010 World Cup tournament which is being held for the first time in Africa provides Kenya with an opportunity to benefit from the large number of teams and fans who will take part in the competition.
President Kibaki, however, called for the establishment of proper management structures that will take football to the next level as the country has an abundance of talent.
The FIFA World Cup trophy tour sponsored by Coca-Cola is an epic journey that commenced in Egypt about two months ago.
President Kibaki said the trophy tour, which will cover 53 African countries during a 70-day trip, will allow thousands of fans to enjoy a rare close-up view of the FIFA World Cup trophy.
"In particular, I note that the trophy will spend three days in our beautiful country. This is a clear demonstration of the confidence that Coca-Cola and FIFA have in the government and the people of Kenya, given the fact that the trophy has only spent one or two days in other countries," the President said.
President Kibaki appreciated the role that Coca-Cola has played in the development of sports in Kenya.
Saying the involvement with grassroots football up to the FIFA World Cup level demonstrates the company’s commitment to supporting the realisation of the sporting dreams and aspirations of young Kenyans, the President pointed out that the efforts fits in well with the Government’s overall pledge to propel Kenya towards social prosperity.
"Our vision 2030 is fully supportive of this agenda and I call upon corporate organisations to support sports development in our country," President Kibaki said.
The Head of State took the opportunity to urge the National Football Team, Harambee Stars, and its technical bench to be inspired by the Trophy’s presence in the country and give their best shot when they play the Super Eagles of Nigeria in a FIFA World Cup qualifier match in Nairobi this weekend.
Said the President: "I look forward to a good report from this game. By the same token, I urge football-loving Kenyans to turn out in large numbers to cheer our team to victory."
Speaking during the same occasion, Prime Minister Raila Odinga thanked the Coca Cola Company for sponsoring the trophy tour to Kenya, a gesture which enabled the sports fraternity the rare opportunity to view and interact with the symbol of world football supremacy.
Mr Raila appealed to the soft drinks company to consider extending sponsorship to local soccer clubs to enable them advance the standard of football in the country.
The Prime Minister also expressed gratitude to FIFA and Coca Cola Company for making it possible for the coveted trophy to land into the country and give soccer fans the chance to enjoy a rare close-up view of the authentic FIFA World Cup Trophy and a chance to take souvenir pictures with the trophy.
He congratulated South Africa for qualifying to host the 2010 World Cup and wished success to African representatives.
The prime Minister at the same time appealed to soccer fans to come out in large numbers to cheer Harambee stars as the team take on Nigeria in the World Cup qualifier on Saturday.
Sports Minister Helen Sambili appreciated sponsorship support accorded to sports by the Coca Cola and other associates.
The chairman and Chief Executive Officer Coca Cola East and Central Africa Mr Nathan Kalumbu also addressed the gathering.
The trophy is on a 70-day tour of 52 African that will end in South Africa on December 3. Some 32 countries will compete for the FIFA World Cup next year.