Wario lacks will and wherewithal to tackle Kenya’s sports problems

By: SEAN CARDOVILLIS

I, along with a large section of the sports fraternity, was shocked to see Dr Hassan Wario retained as Cabinet Secretary for Sports, despite his failure to resolve several crises involving sports associations.

On Monday dozens of Kenyan athletes stormed the headquarters of Athletics Kenya (AK), Rhiada House, locking out officials and demanding that top national officials of the body step down following allegations of graft and doping cover-ups.

Kenya boasts some of the world’s finest middle and long-distance runners, but has in recent years been rocked by a spate of failed drug tests, and the country’s athletics federation has drawn criticism for not doing enough to tackle doping.

Allegations of corruption among AK chiefs tied to a Nike sponsorship deal, combined with Russia’s recent ban from global athletics, have stirred fears that the country could be banned from international track and field.

This is part of the greater problem of sports in this country, and the unwillingness of the government to clamp down on what is a cancer that’s slowly but surely killing the industry is very worrying indeed.

Harambee Stars players were once again seeing action in Ethiopia without allowances. Why? What have these patriotic players done to deserve these shoddy treatment, from the Cape Verde debacle to this current tournament? This is simply unacceptable and what is terribly sad about what has happened in recent weeks is the deafening silence from the Cabinet Secretary himself.

He had time to go and see the Pope, but has not spared a few minutes to address the nation on why Harambee Stars risked their lives to travel in a rickety, propeller powered plane to west Africa!

It is time for Wario to get his act together. Sports is in a mess and needs a strong, level-headed leader to grab the bull by the horns. The President has given him another mandate, and he needs to show that he has the will and the answers, two attributes that have been missing over the last twelve months. We, the sports loving public will be watching and monitoring carefully.

RUGBY SEVENS’S YEAR OF DESTINY

Nine months before rugby sevens debut at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the Emirates Dubai Sevens launches the HSBC World Series next week. Kenya faces a baptism of fire in Pool “D” against giants England, Australia and Wales.

This is where the talking stops for Benjamin Ayimba’s men, as a critical Kenya rugby fan-base closely monitors the team now that they’ve qualified for the Olympics. This will be a true test as it was felt that Kenya never really got pushed in South Africa during the qualifiers, except in the final against Zimbabwe.

So, with global excitement building ahead of sevens’ biggest season, the world’s top players representing 28 national teams will compete at the Dubai Sevens from Thursday until Saturday. There will also be a 12-team women’s tournament, which will be held on Thursday and Friday.

In the men’s competition, reigning series champions Fiji head Pool “A” and kick off proceedings against Canada with further ties against Japan and Argentina.

Dubai’s defending champions and the series’ second-ranked side last season, the Blitzboks of South Africa, start in Pool “B” against Scotland, Samoa and newly promoted core team Russia.

Twelve-time series champions New Zealand face matches against USA, who are the most recent cup winners at the 2014-15 series finale in London, as well as France and Portugal in Pool “C”, while in Pool “D” the fourth-ranked side in last year’s series England line up against Australia, Wales and Kenya.

With the Kenya Rugby Union’s top officials heading to the tournament, as is tradition, let’s hope that they can bring home ideas on how to jump-start the flagging Safari Sevens. Huge crowds are once again expected to attend one of the region’s favourite sporting and social occasions of the year.

In excess of 100,000 people will be at 7he Sevens Stadium for this year’s three-day annual rugby extravaganza as international attention on the event is increases in the lead up to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

MOTOCROSS

The FIM Central Africa Challenge Cup is set for Saturday and Sunday at the Jamhuri Park, although the heavy rains that have pounded Nairobi this week will be topmost in the minds of both the riders and organisers.

I understand Lee Construction have been very busy working on the drainage of the track, and making sure that the riders, particularly the younger ones on smaller bikes, don’t get stuck.

The event features competitors from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania over three heats. This also doubles up as the final round of the motocross championship.

The competition involves over 60 riders with their large fan base, especially the Ugandans, who view motorsports as a religion. Last year Uganda sent 18 riders, Tanzania 5 and Kenya 40. On Kenya’s last visit to Uganda, the visitors won the Challenge and expect to do the same in Nairobi.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION