There is no other game that has ever put Kenya on a global map than athletics and without it, Kenya would be ‘sportically’ dead.
Kenyans love football than any other game and the continual disappointment of the national team, Harambee Stars, has forced many to embrace foreign teams and matches. In football, as Kenyans, we don’t have much hope in our national team but in athletics, we always roar to the top of the world.
Athletics is often our only hope as Kenyans, the only sport that often sees a Kenyan flag being raised for the world to see and our national anthem ringing across the globe.
The previous week, however, these national heroes, the athletes, threatened to down their tools and boycott the Commonwealth games due to unpaid allowances.
The move rekindled the 2016 Rio Olympics scandal where the officials accompanying the team lived like kings and queens in posh hotels while the team struggled even for a place to sleep. The officials also stole money meant for the team and shared the team kits among themselves and their families as the team was left to struggle with old attires.
The issue of athletes in Kenya going without allowances hasn’t started recently. It is an issue that moves more than five years back and the continued ignorance of the issue will soon kill the sport.
From the chat organized by Kenya’s giant betting firm, SportPesa, it emerged that some athletes have not received allowances dating as far as the year 2011.
During President Mwai Kibaki’s tenure, a fund was set up to award Kenyan athletes. Those who won gold were to receive 750,000 shillings, those with Silver to pocket 500,000 shillings while those with Bronze to go home with 250,000 shillings.
When President Uhuru Kenyatta took the helm of the country’s leadership, he increased the amount to one million shillings for gold, 750,000 shillings for Silver and 500,000 shillings for Bronze.
Ever since the fund was set up, Kenyan athletes have participated in 2012 Olympics, 2013 World Championships in Moscow, 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China.
The fact that athletes have not been receiving their allowances for all these years means that there is a well-orchestrated plan to loot the sweat of Kenyan heroes as they wallow in poverty and officials swim in what they didn’t work for.
SportPesa was at the forefront of supporting talent as well as various teams in the country until the introduction of the 35 percent of the earnings of the gaming industry in Kenya.
Despite the challenges, SportPesa still remains the hope for many teams in the country as well as upcoming talents.