REVIVING SPORTS

Involve all players in running new sports fund

In Summary

• If well managed, youthful talent that has hitherto been neglected would be developed at the grassroots

• The fund is the magic wand that will inject a breath of fresh air into Kenya’s sporting wing

Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed. /FILE
Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed. /FILE

A lot of excitement followed news that the sports sector will no longer rely on direct Exchequer financing to participate in various activities across the world. The big news came as an early Christmas gift to sportspeople, sports administrators and enthusiasts as it was delivered in the first week last December, when the board was unveiled.

The composition of the oversight board was also received with open arms, except for some murmurs over the inclusion of former Vice President Moody Awori. The mutters were however addressed by none other than the President of the Republic when he expressed his confidence in the octogenarian in view of the recent squander of public resources by young professionals.

 

The open admission by the country’s Commander-in-Chief that, lately, there has been wanton pilferage of state resources by well-placed and connected individuals in government did not come as a shock to many. In the recent past, the world has been treated to scandal after another involving billions of shillings embezzled in dubious projects where money is paid with little or nothing to show for it.

 

While functionally the role of administrator to the fund has been vested with the State Department of Sports Development PS, a lot of safeguards need to be put in place to ensure that the fund is foolproof

Kenyans are still watching as a former Sport CS, later appointed ambassador, together with other ministry officials fight in court to clear their names over the infamous Rio Olympics debacle where there were allegations of misuse of government funds.

The President’s sentiments are worrying, just as they are the true reflection of the worrying levels of corruption in the country. All is not lost though as we can ensure that the newly established Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund does not degenerate into another scandal given that it is home to billions of shillings accruing from betting taxes introduced in the Finance Bill 2018 amendments.

While functionally the role of administrator to the fund has been vested with the State Department of Sports Development PS, whose current holder is Peter Kaberia, a lot of safeguards need to be put in place to ensure that the fund is foolproof.

If well managed, the fund could transform Kenya’s sports sector in ways unimaginable. Youthful talent that has hitherto been neglected would be developed at the grassroots. Differently put, the fund is the magic wand that will inject a breath of fresh air into the country’s sporting wing. But if mismanaged, like other projects, it will easily turn out to be the poisoned chalice for the country’s youthful multitude.

The most immediate and important factor for consideration by the fund oversight board chaired by the seasoned Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei, who is also the President of Athletics Kenya, is embarking on stakeholder engagement. As we speak, football fans are salivating at the amounts Harambee Stars players will pocket in terms of allowances and other benefits as they head for the African Cup of Nations in Egypt in June.

At a minimum each player will pocket Sh750,000, even without even touching the ball and an additional share in the Sh250,000 set for the team in case of a win or draw. This is part of the Sh219 million received by the federation from the government as part of the Sh244 million submitted in their budget.

 
 

According to the legal framework establishing the fund, the Sports ministry will have 55 per cent of the money in their control. The context shows that 35 per cent of this money is meant for sports, 20 per cent for Heritage and Arts, while 40 per cent is earmarked for healthcare and the remaining five per cent to administration of the fund.

The onus is on the oversight board to engage all stakeholders on what their plan is with respect to growing the sector through prudent financial management. The fund is meant to finance the development of sports and recreational facilities, including stadiums, gymnasiums, buildings and tracks.

It is also expected that the board will enhance support and access to funding for sportspersons and sports organisations to enable their participation in sporting events and competitions. Further, it is envisaged that it will enable facilitation for the acquisition and provision of equipment and leisure amenities.

The board must realise that effective stakeholder engagement supports the translation of their needs into organisational objectives and is the foundation for effective strategy development. Determining the area of agreement or common motivation helps a group of stakeholders to arrive at a decision and ensures investment in a meaningful outcome.

Communications specialist