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Championing a new legacy in Kenya

A player looking into the distance
Copyrights: Gabriel Tito Tabona

Championing a new legacy in Kenya

Sports itself is a perishable product but for it to continue breathing, an element of development cannot be wished away as COVID19 has demonstrated.

Commercialisation of sport has brought with it a monster of some sort, sometimes overlooking the importance of labour rights and occupational safety. Flexibility in leadership and governance models of institutions organising mega events and competitions will need to be entrenched so as to safeguard athletes’ mental and physical health as they are inextricably linked. Therefore proper scheduling of sports activities will ensure that athletes aren’t fatigued to the point of falling into depression. For example, through formidable trade unions, athletes can compel governing bodies and broadcast rights partners to negotiate agreements which will enable them to spend more time with their families while at the same time include a “calamity financial benefit package” as part of an appearance fee to cushion them against unforeseen disasters. In Kenya, betting firm, Betika recently stepped in to directly send relief cash to Kenyan football players through the Football Kenya Federation.

Will COVID-19 expand or reduce inequalities? Poor policies in developing countries continue to deny economically challenged population groups various opportunities ranging from employment to education. Hence the alternatives are not always safe as crime and early sexual debut produces devastating effects such as spread of HIV/AIDS and teenage pregnancies. This further compounds their problems. The sport and development sector will need to get out of their “reactive comfort zone interventions” which normally consists of awareness campaigns, and vocational education initiatives to more proactive efforts like the one between Yunus Sports Hub and International Olympic Committee’s Impact 2024 program which will see young people at risk equipped with skills and competencies to deliver essential services which match those of established companies during the Paris 2024 Games

With technological revolution disrupting conventional ways of human kind, the sport and development sector has to re-evaluate its existing programme delivery models. The current pandemic has greatly changed the education and workplace landscape hence contributing to reduction of carbon footprint. Universities are conducting classes online and while schools in Kenya remain closed, the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development has partnered with media stations to conduct lessons as part of home schooling. Through the Athlete 365 e-learning platform, the International Olympic Committee is offering free courses. In addition to an appeal for resources through crowd-funding, the sport and development sector can plug in to e-commerce to work with firms like Amazon and Jumia to deliver goods and services during calamities and in future, incorporate it to advance inclusivity in access to social services.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenya has demonstrated its capacity to provide solutions to its own problems. Kitui County Textile Centre (KICOTEC) and other textile players have stitched facemasks and personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers and the public while Kenyatta University students devised a ventilator prototype. In the long run, these manifestations should trickle down to the sports industry and encourage growth of local capacity and economy. For instance, Vita merchants, which manufactures soccer balls and other sports goods local should lobby for government incentives so as to match global sports apparel giants like Nike and Addidas while Football Kenya Federation should set up a technical study group that will help in defining its playing philosophy as opposed to now where it borrows a mixture of Dutch, English and German philosophies.

Gabriel Tabona highlights sports issues at the intersection of social, political, economic and environmental angles.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020 - 16:32