When the Cabinet Secretary for Finance was reading the budget in parliament, social spaces were full of IEBC related drama. Very few people spared a thought for the more important once a year ritual of reading national budget. The budget is usually a projected estimate of how the government plans to spend funds raised from taxes, grants and loans for the coming financial year ending next year in June.
Looking at the budget; Social Protection, Culture and Recreation has been awarded Ksh. 33.7 Billion. Out of these, Social Safety Nets got Ksh. 17.9 Billion. The assumption is that part of the remaining Ksh. 15.8 Billion will go to sports. This is because, this is the same money that will run the whole Ministry of Sports, Culture and The Arts which apart from sports also includes institutions like National Museums, Bomas of Kenya, Kenya National Library and Kenya Film Commission.
The sports related institutions are Sports Kenya and National Sports Fund which are expected to receive funds from the exchequer. This begs a lot of questions, is sports given the importance it deserves? The world over we are known for two things, forget our tribal politics; our national parks and sporting prowess. Yet there are no funds set aside specifically to run this big national asset.
Can such meager allocation generate results in our playing fields? The low allocation is evidence that the government is doing very little in sports development. I can bet with Rio Olympics coming up in August, Sports Department will spend a good amount of its allocation by the time Rio Games come to a close. CAF has awarded Kenya the 2018 hosting of CHAN Championships which we need to be ready for by end of next year.
There can never be results without financial and technical input in sports. The Cabinet Secretary for Sports needs to find ways of raising more money if at all Kenya is to make it beyond the track in Athletics. Every time I pass through Uhuru Park, Humphrey Khayange and Collins Injera come to mind. They play their club trade at Mwamba RFC and their home ground Railways Club sits at the corner of Uhuru Park. A look at those facilities proves that our success in Sevens Rugby is more out of players’ passion than our investments in the sport.
If I follow Victor Wanyama’s tracks from LandiMawe grounds through Kawangware grounds of Nairobi City Stars proves that the virtue is in individual players. I feel like telling Tottenham Hotspurs not to pass on development fees to FKF after acquiring Wanyama from Southampton. Hockey, Cricket and Volleyball are all treated the same way. If we are not ready to put money in our sports then let us resign to wherever raw talent will take us.
Wisdom says that only fools throw money at every problem, I agree. The problems in our sports go beyond money and throwing funds at them may worsen the situation. One thing the government must do is to insist on every federation complying with the Sports Act. Come to think of it, parliament passed a defective Anti-Doping Bill after passing a defective Sports Act a while back. It shows where our problems in sports begin.
The Ministry of Sports can begin by insisting on federations putting their house in order before they get funding. Training on best practices and exposure on the same will also help. Another way is to reward well managed and performing federations. These measures will go a long way in streamlining operations before funds are channeled to the federations.
Meanwhile, low investments mean low returns. The Ksh. 25 Billion that was allocated to National Youth Service last financial year generated more heat than light. Sports is a double edged political sword. It gives the youth a chance to expend their energy positively as they earn a living while keeping the majority of the young population happy cheering them. This feel good factor is huge political capital.
A good stadium to the tune of the main arena of Kasarani Sports Complex will take about Ksh. 5 Billion to construct. The Jubilee government can invest in one stadium per year as per their five stadiums pledge in 2013. This will be good to our prospects of successfully hosting the CAF CHAN Championships. The other facilities require much lower in terms of investment value to warrant any excuse.
If you want to show me the government’s commitment to the youth and sports in particular, I will ask, SHOW ME THE MONEY.