The Kenyan team to the Youth Olympic Qualifiers in Algeria came to the end of their quest following a 4-1 loss to Zambia. This was after their qualification into the semis through a 3-1 win over Namibia in the quarters. The side had reported a relatively poor performance at the group stages, whereby they collected no points from their two encounters against Zambia and Nigeria. This was despite and otherwise impressive show of skill and technique among the boys. The team now has the opportunity to take the third position as they face off against Nigeria in their final match of the ten-day tournament.
State of the Nation
The return of the boys’ team back home allows us to contemplate the state of the sport in the country. Kenya only took their boy’s side to the events, despite having prepared both the ladies’ and men’s team. Communication from the union cited financial constraints, suggesting that insufficient funding hindered them from taking both teams to the qualifiers.
It is unfortunate that, despite multidimensional efforts to facilitate the growth of the sport in Kenya, it appears that old trends still persist. Player motivation issues have long been expressed among teams, both in the national capacity and among individual clubs. That our youth team may begin experiencing disappointments so early in their life as hockey players is regrettable. From their training sessions, the zeal with which both teams anticipated the games was evident. The pride of representing the nation in an event at such a young age is irreplaceable by little; except maybe by the sinking realization that this will only ever be a dream. It is highly dubious that the young girls understood why there were no funds to take them to Algeria. How do you explain the choice of one team over the other to little people in their teens?
We are not suggesting that the funds were present and failed to be used; only questioning the basis for subjecting teams to such disappointments. Hockey, as a sport, is not only for entertainment , but should also serve as the therapeutic reprieve from life it is meant to be. The fact that let-downs and setbacks plague every dimension of its execution severely hinders its capacity to accomplish this aspect. All players can do is pray for the best while expecting the worst.
For now, let us welcome our boys back with firm smiles on our faces. They did well, and we are proud.