NAIROBI, Kenya, June 26 – This year’s Federation of East Africa Secondary Schools Sports Associations games will feature swimming as the regional body targets to include all Olympic disciplines for the annual affair that kicks-off from August 22 to September 1 in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
However, the planned introduction of rugby 7s has been postponed to next year to allow other countries develop their structures.
Speaking when launching the fourth Airtel Rising Stars Under-17 boys and girls competition, Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) Secretary David Ngugi, said the Term 2 Ball Games County competition will begin next weekend with the regional finals set for Kakamega High School from August 5 to 10.
“This time round we have included swimming in the East African Games since this is the only sport that was missing, last year we added the racket games so this is going to be the biggest championship ever in Dar.
“The federation games have grown and this year we had planned to start the rugby 7s since we as Kenya we are good at it and we wanted to encourage other teams to start participating but since they requested more time to put up their structures, we have postponed it to next year,” Ngugi said.
He added they are looking forward to start inviting countries like South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Mali and either Egypt or Algeria to participate as guest teams since they have expressed interest.
“This year’s KSSSA will be very competitive since every team is working hard to board a plane to Gabon and in most regions the standards of soccer are high.
“Nairobi has concluded the districts competitions and it was hotly contested since some of the big teams like previous winners Ofafa Jericho have already been eliminated,” he added.
National boys’ defending champions Upper Hill High School and their girls’ counterparts Olympic High will be looking to retain their title after having a good start by winning their respective district games.
Upper Hill captain Wilson Njuguna was confident they will retain the title since they have strengthen their midfield that was a big let down at last season’s continental championship where they were eliminated in the preliminary round.
“We have worked hard so defending out title will not be a big issue, even if Spain failed to retain their World Cup, we are determined to lift it once more since there is no team to stop us in Nairobi, Kamukunji had their time and now its our moment to reign.
“I missed last season’s Airtel Rising Stars due to injury so this time round I must inspire my team not only to go to Gabon but to win it, the girls performed better than us in Nigeria but people should know the boys competition is usually difficult,” the form four attacking midfielder told Capital Sport.
For Olympic skipper Latonia Atieno, they are going for the African crown after missing last season by a whisker when they went down 1-0 to Tanzania in the finals held in Nigeria.
“We are not taking anything for chance we have trained hard so when we head to Gabon I promise Kenyans we will come back with the trophy since we have worked out on our weakness.
“We were under pressure when we lost last season because we thought we could equalise in the second-half but time was not on our side. We have a stiff competition in the Metropolitan region where we are yet to face Matuu High and then Tartar if we make it to the nationals,” Atieno who is in form two stated.
Upper Hill will face Lavington and Embakasi secondary school at Eastleigh High School in the County stage.
The pan-African tournament that comprises of 17 African countries, will run from August 20-25 in Gabon with the best players selected to participate in football clinics under the supervision of coaches from the Arsenal and Manchester United soccer schools.
“We have renewed our contract with KSSSA for another six years and I’m happy with how this event is run so far. the same format of selecting teams for the Airtel Rising Stars remains the same and we will have our usual training camp after the Gabon trip,” Airtel Corporate Communication Director, Dick Omondi said.