OPINION: Playing on under-developed surfaces is a big challenge

By Peter Okova

Covid-19 though a pandemic with ramifications that include death has provided a window of opportunity for us to reflect on many issues at hand.One major issue that calls for our urgent attention is the development of state of the art facilities in schools that have an opportunity to host Nationals.

Sponsors like Brookside used to construct basketball courts brand them Hockey goals and the fields of play. Today branding is what remains, take note most of this grounds are uneven with tufts of grass strewn here and there. Anthills form part of the playing surface and the mode of marking are furrows created using a jembe..Those of who were in Embu in 2018 can attest to the fact that playing on the surface was a challenge even before you engaged the opponent. I remember in 2017 we lost one of our players to injury at the county level in Malava because he tore his knee ligaments after stepping on an anthill. To date no new facilities have been established at the school level apart from Mpesa Academy which is private.

This continues to be our biggest undoing in the development of sports because the training surface forms an integral part in the nurturing of talent at amateur levels. One of my young players who had an opportunity to travel with the under 16 national hockey team intimated to me that in Durban all schools have artificial turfs.It is sad that in Kenya only the schools established before the colonial era can boast of having sports facilities in the name of land that hasn’t seen any value added apart from paint that is painted during Nationals games that are hosted once in eight years.Clearly no deliberate strategies are in place to ensure that we develop this facilities yet if we must move forward it is a key element.

The ministry of education and KSSSA need to hot-seat and brainstorm on avenues that will see us leave a mark in hosting regions.In the same vain with the inception of counties in 2012 it is possible to partner with the said governments so that they can invest in schools who in turn can have the facilities but in trust such that the same can still be used by the public.Case in point I when Manchester city hosted the commonwealth games and the university received the swimming pool while Manchester city took over the stadium.

Sadly there are no strains of banter in this direction since regions know they are entitled to host and need not to bid.The organizers who inspect this facilities prior to the activities simply endorse the same.Sports is big business apart from nurturing talent and giving the youth a chance how much do we bring to the hosting regions if not a fortune…There is need to invest in our facilities..have them graded ,compacted,planted with good grass and fixed with standard goal posts.This is only if we have then intention to make things better.

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