NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 19 – Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does,” – Nelson Mandela.
The words of the former South African president and apartheid era hero could not resonate at a better time than now when the whole world is striving to combat the spread of the coronavirus that has sent the globe into frenzy, putting almost everything at a standstill.
The sporting world has been heavily hit, all events either being cancelled or postponed while there is growing fear that the Tokyo Olympics might not be held.
Closer home, all sporting activities have been halted and as at Thursday afternoon, there were seven confirmed cases of the virus in the country.
And, in a bid to curb the spread of the virus, the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) has partnered with various sports personalities across the country in a campaign to try use the power of sports and sensitize the public on measures to curb the spread of the virus.
“Our sports people have always been in the fore front reminding us who we are every time they win, our national anthem rings and we cheer them. This time they are leading in the other front of fighting the coronavirus, we thank them for showing us the way, we need to join them for the sake of humanity,” NOC-K Acting Secretary General Francis Mutuku told Capital Sport.
He added, “Sports has been affected the most by the pandemic, the athletes are suffering because they are not in action, we once again thank them for taking precautionary measures to combat the virus and urging fellow Kenyans to do so. Together we will overcome.”
NOCK has been posting messages from the sportsmen across all social media platforms, the same which has been picked up by other influential handles including State House Kenya to try and curb the spread with seven cases already confirmed in the country.
Algerian based Kenya Morans power forward Ariel Okall is one of the athletes to come out loud and clear to support the campaign, especially noting he is in a country that has so far recorded the third highest number of cases in the country.
Okall, who just recently joined top tier side USS from Kenya Ports Authority has been in his house for the last one week with all sporting activities in the North African country shut down.
“Follow the government directive by staying at home, practicing social distancing during this time of the coronavirus pandemic. Maintain high hygiene by washing your hands with antibacterial soap and if you don’t have it use a sanitizer with alcohol in it. By doing this we will be able to control the spread of the virus,” Okal says in his video message from his base in Algiers.
Other sportsmen who have sounded their voice in the campaign include Kenya Sevens stars Collins Injera and Andrew Amonde, Kenya Lionesses skipper Philadelphia Olando, Tennis Coach Rosemary Owino and former world javelin champion Julius Yego.
Others are Harambee Starlets striker Esse Mbeyu Akida based in Turkey and Sweden based Harambee Stars left back Erick ‘Marcelo’ Ouma.
“We will win this fight. God is with us all, there is hope and let’s take care of our health. Above all, let us ensure we maintain the highest levels of hygiene. Wash your hands often,” Ouma told Capital Sport in his message to Kenyans at this time.
Midfielder Eric Johannah, also based in Sweden added; “Out here we are trying our best to keep safe and I want to urge everyone to do the same back home.”
All Sports in the country, just like the rest of the world has been brought to a grinding halt with the government last week announcing it was closing down all public sporting facilities as a measure to contain the spread of the virus.
All leagues have also been halted as the country tries to control the spread with seven cases confirmed so far and more than 20 others being investigated.