Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kenya Wasting a Huge Opportunity Ahead of the 2010 World Cup?


Kenya needs to get their act together.

The country's had an abundance of problems the past few years.

From two competing football leagues to a FIFA suspension, the people running Kenyan football can't seem to figure out how to make football work in their country.

It's a pity, too. The 2010 World Cup is an economic bonanza waiting to happen.

The East African nation could gain financially from teams planning to come to the country to acclimate themselves before proceeding to South Africa for the 2010 finals.

It's strategically placed to attract teams who want to take advantage of the high altitude and visit world-famous tourist sites ahead of the tournament.

However, due to a lack of adequate international stadiums and never-ending political strife, there could be problems.

Football Kenya (FKL) technical director Patrick Naggi said Kenya, being a tourist hub in Africa had shot itself in the foot through its approach at marketing itself and the failure to upgrade its sports facilities to attract teams.

"We have not done enough as a nation. There is too much bickering among the politicians over petty issues," said Naggi.

"Instead of working together to compliment their efforts, they are busy fighting each other. Our football has also taken the same route. We are all to blame."

The Kenya government has pumped 30 million shillings (225,000 dollars) towards the maintenance of the national stadiums, of which there are two - both in Nairobi - which can be adjusted to international standards.

The Sports Minister Helen Sambili is due to name a high-level committee, composed of officials from her office and the ministry of tourism to look into exploring ways to exploit the World Cup to the country's advantage.

But one top official in her ministry conceded that time was running out.

"The concerns are well-founded and understandable since the World Cup is just less than ten months away. We have to move very fast," Benjamin Sogomo, the new chief executive of the Sports Stadia Management Board (SSMB) told AFP.

One of the main objectives the committee will be tasked is to convince some of the top teams to base themselves in Kenya prior to the tournament.

But although Nairobi is only four hours away from South Africa, the inadequate training facilities may put the whole process into jeopardy.

Due to the favorable climatic conditions, the national teams of Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria, have in the past opted to hold their training preparations in Kenya before traveling to play their away qualification matches.

But this appears highly unlikely before the 2010 World Cup as competition from the neighboring countries such as Mozambique, Angola and Botswana, which have already embarked on massive construction in readiness for the big event, may sway their national federations to move away.

But Naggi believes Kenya could still have attracted national sides from South America and even Europe, especially the Italian and German teams because of the huge business investments in the Kenyan coastal region, owned and managed by nationals from the two countries.

"I am sure a team like Brazil would be very keen to come here. They show a lot about Kenya in Brazil," said Naggi, who spent three months in the South American nation training as a football coach in 1999.

"Coming from sea level, they would have taken advantage of our high-altitude and by the time they move to South Africa, they will have gained in their performances over the other teams.

"The two countries also share the same multi-ethnic backgrounds and the diversity of the natural resources and heritage. But unlike them, we don't have the numerous training grounds and stadiums they would require to set up their training camp here," he added.

With the exception of the Nyayo National stadium, which is currently under suspension from FIFA for failing to meet its safety standards, the only other world class facility is the Moi International sports centre, on the northern outskirts of the Kenyan capital.

21 comments:

SportsKenya said...

Can't say it better. We've had over 4 years which we could have put our act together. I'm particularly incensed by Govt officials who have proved to be more of the hurdles than enablers of any benefits we would have reaped from fringes of the 2010 WC.
Private sector efforts have been snared at and most companies now are undertaking their own initiatives without a more unified approach.
Look at what the Kenya Airways strike has cost us? The Govt as a stakeholder would have sought a better approach to manage this.
Infrastructure is slowly developing but as you say, we've less than 3 stadiums worthy writing home about.
Such a disappointment !

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