Category Archives: Sports

Lessons from the Kenya versus Germany Test Match

The Germany national fifteens rugby team won the Test match against Kenya Simbas 29-30 with the last play of the game. A superbly taken drop kick ended coach Jeroome Paarwaters’ long-running winning streak at the RFUEA grounds.

The Road to Japan Rugby World 2019 started with a stumble but that may be a good thing if questions are asked and answers got.

There were a huge number of senior players dropped by the technical bench before the start of the season. The bench stated that they were not up to scratch while word went round that they had being pushed aside for being too vocal about player welfare. What is the truth? Can a middle ground be found?

Of what value was the ten day tour of South Africa? Can a team really get good value from just a ten day trip? There are also reports that a trip to New Zealand is in the pipeline. The ‘bench-marking’ tours are great on paper but their actually tangible benefit on game day is the question. Also, should they be so close to game day such that jet-lag seems to be an issue.

The list of sponsors for the Test Series was quite impressive and every five minutes the announcer earned his pay with a mention of the long list of sponsors: Sportpesa, Tatu City, Safaricom, Tusker, Dasani, etc. The coffers are presumably quite full and it follows that within reason anything the Kenya fifteens team and the technical bench need should be availed. Is that the case? Why then are the fifteens players not on contract like their seven’s counterparts?

Kenya missed out on qualification to the 2015 rugby world cup by just one match. This time round does Kenya Rugby Union have a coherent concrete plan to see Kenya bag the ticket to Japan 2019? For starters a decision has to be made on whether to continue with the players who have worked hard to lift Kenya up in the rankings or to retire them and try qualifying with young blood.

If KRU does have a plan then it is holding it quite close to its chest. However, if I can hazard a guess, it is probably business as usual and hoping for the best. That will certainly not do.

KRU is not the only one that has to step up if Kenya is to play in Japan.

The Simbas had beaten Spain and Portugal with ease in Test matches last year and the Germans who were two slots below in the world rugby rankings were expected to be easy prey.

However, from the onset The Germans seemed to be on the ascendancy with compact defensive play, brilliant forward work at scrum, mauls and line-outs as well as explosive bursts of speed when they spotted a gap. They certainly were the better team overall throughout the match and were good value for the win.

For Kenya, the forwards looked quite sluggish and they totally outplayed and this denied Kenya a platform to build on. As for the backs they were sucked into the contact play and Kenya seemingly lacks a play-maker to switch up the game or to split a defense. It felt over and over like the same play. Either try smash through the middle and when that was stopped by the resolute Germans taking it all the way wide to Jacob Ojee or to Darwin Mukidza to run on the line. It worked twice but it certainly is not enough as the one point loss showed.

The bad news is that the Kenya Simbas are seemingly not yet world cup material. The good news is with the bubble burst so early in the season Kenya can now work at being ready to try qualify for the rugby world cup. A silver lining to the 29-30 loss witnessed by one of the largest crowds RFUEA grounds has hosted.

“Rugby is Ngong Road and Ngong road is rugby” tweeted an avid football fan who had heeded the cry to be part of the Kenya Simba’s pride at RFUEA. Heck, even Jack Oguda, the C.E.O and Frank Okoth, the C.O.O of KPL were in the V.I.P area enjoying the rugby and marveling at the huge fan attendance which Kenyan football can only dream of. Respect to whoever was in charge of the marketing effort, job very well

That Ngong Road is the spiritual home of rugby in Kenya is now beyond doubt and that Kenyans are hungry for a sporting spectacle on a Saturday afternoon is not in question.

However, as has been stated on numerous occasions, the RFUEA grounds need a total makeover.

There needs to be seating stands all round the stadium for the fans as watching rugby while standing is not kosher. Public washrooms need to be build or hired as the ones at the Quins club house are not enough. The changing rooms available may just about pass muster for Eric Shirley games but definitely not for Kenya Cup much less international matches.

Security felt quite blaze and reckon it has to done in a better way given the current realities. Parking was a nightmare and a solution to that has to be thought of and while at it a way not to clog up Ngong Road. The queue to purchase tickets was pretty long and perhaps ticket sales should be moved online and also outsourced. An aside; it was cute seeing Homeboyz RFC players man the ticket booth but it showed a lack of professionalism.

Rugby is as much about the game as the party. Quins was overwhelmed as a party destination as early as 6pm with someone tweeting at 10pm that it was “a mess”. Clearly, therein is an opportunity for event organizers.

With Safari Sevens scheduled to return to RFUEA grounds in November, KRU have a time-bound deadline to beat to fix all these glaring inadequacies at RFUEA.

Lastly, congratulations to KCB who beat Kabras Sugar to lift the Enterprise Cup for a third consecutive season. The final was played at 12pm. It was supposedly the curtain raiser for the Test Match that kicked off at 4pm. Why should a Cup final curtain raise a test match? Felt that this was unfair for the players, the fans and the neutrals. A better scheduling of games should be considered by the Union.

With local fifteens rugby season done and dusted it is now time for speed and thrills in the 6-leg national sevens rugby series. Series kicks off with Mombasa’s Driftwood Sevens on July 22 followed by Nairobi’s Kabereri Sevens on July 29 before taking a break in August for the General Election and resuming in September.

For Kenya Simbas next up is Elgon Cup first leg away to Uganda on June 10 with the return leg signalling the start of the 2017 Africa Cup that has been expanded to six teams: Senegal and Tunisia added to Namibia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Kenya.


Inside the Kenya Anti-Doping Act 2016

The extent to which the Kenya Anti-Doping Act of 2016 which was passed by parliament and signed into law by the President differed from the version approved by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is startling.

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Contrary to what the government termed as minor questions by WADA as to the reason for Kenya being declared non-compliant by WADA a total of 24 queries were raised by WADA in regards to the Act in a document that I have seen.

For instance, Section 3 (b) which indicated to whom the act applies to has provisions which narrow the scope of the Act to only focus on athletes instead of ALL sports women and men.

Part VI of the Act that tackled General Provisions and which is at the core of the Act was found to have been severely mutilated. Removed were the parts binding all sports people to the anti-doping rules, the making compliance to anti-doping rules a requirement to participation in sports in Kenya and the requirement for cooperation with Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) by all sportspeople.

WADA also had in issue with Section 26 (k) which terms unlawful stocking, distribution, transporting, selling or dealing in prohibited substances as prohibited activities in the Act. WADA does NOT consider this an anti-doping violation.

WADA is also uncomfortable with the lack of clarity in Section 42 (6) on how anti-doping violations would be handled.

Section 30 (4) which gives powers to an anti-doping compliance officer to arrest, search and detain a suspect for 24 hours was found to take Kenyan anti-doping officials into foray of criminal and prosecution procedures.

WADA took issue with a recommendation in Section 37 (2) that ADAK would annually submit a report to the Cabinet Secretary of Sports. The WADA code is transparent and so it would want public publication of the report and a copy given to WADA.

Section 7 (1) which laid out the functions of ADAK was found to have severely whittled down the functions of ADAK. WADA is for an ADAK that is totally independent.

Section 15 which tackled the conduct, regulation and powers of the ADAK board raised eyebrows with WADA. The board is top-heavy with government officials and political appointees. In the Schedule of the Act WADA once again took exception with the sweeping powers given to the ADAK board.

Section 23 (1) that established the Therapeutic Use Exception Committee was found to be altered from the final version approved by WADA.

Section 24 (2 & 3) that gives guidelines on Therapeutic Use Exception was found to have been modified and clarity lost.

WADA sought clarity in Section 31 (1) on whether the tribunal for dispute resolution would be before or after court process and what the disciplinary procedure would be.

Section 27 (6a) had a surprise reference to the Athlete Testing Programme which WADA sought clarification for as it was not in the definitions.

Section one alone of the bill had 10 comments with WADA questioning the deletion words or changes in phrasing. WADA questions were – Clarify how “prohibited activity” can be defined and why this replaced “anti-doping rule violation? Clarify whether a healthcare practitioner would fall under Athlete Support Personnel or there is a distinction?

The definitions of “national level athlete”, “out-of-competition testing”, “prohibited association”, “trafficking” were changed compared to final version approved by WADA.

All in all quite starling how the government managed to submit a law with SO SO many errors and put at risk the Olympics dreams of all Kenyan sportspeople.

This kind of incompetence needs to be punished by the President.

 

WADA-DELEGATION

 

Now to salvage the situation, the Kenyan government delegation led by Cabinet Secretary Foreign Affairs Amina Mohammed and the Cabinet Secretary Sports, Arts and Culture Hassan Wario met with World Anti-Doping Agency officials led by WADA Director General David Howman for day long deliberations in Montreal Canada on Tuesday 18th May.

The road map agreed with the government of Kenya and WADA will see adoption of the amendments to the Act, presentation of the amended clauses to parliament followed by presidential assent. Thereafter the amended bill will be presented to WADA where the WADA compliance committee will review and give approval.

While this process is on-going Kenyan athletes will be allowed to participate in international sport and Kenya will have representation at the Rio Olympics.

GOD BLESS KENYA!

 


Of fairy tales coming true

On Sunday 1st of May 2016 the eyes of many football fans in the world were fixed on Old Trafford to see if Leicester’s fairy tale would reach its climax at the Theater of Dreams.

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A win and the 5000/1 underdogs at the start of the season would be crowned EPL champions at the home of the twenty time champions.

I had a front row seat to witness this unlikely spectacle and I was living a fairy tale.

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Walking in Manchester on match day was akin to Nairobi on Mashemeji derby day. Fans decked in their club’s colors, singing and chanting. The visiting Leicester fans were the noisier and livelier.

In the tram to Old Trafford, chatted with 50 year old Steve. For 43 years, he had been going to Old Trafford. Began with his dad and never stopped. Tradition inculcated. Steve bleeds Red for Manchester United and his passion is life and death.

Outside the Old Trafford tram station met Denise. A Leicester City season ticket holder who despite living in Dubai had attended all but two home games. She is the embodiment of the Leicester roots that had sprouted the fairy tale that had captured the world’s imagination.

Walking towards Old Trafford with the thousands of fans was like making a pilgrimage. Stalls selling merchandise, open trucks offering fast food and beer on the go, hawkers calling out for their wares, fans singing all made one forgot the freezing rainy weather.

Several searches and into the stadium I went. “This is it! This is it!’ was the mantra I continually chanted under my breath as I searched for my seat.

I could not stop shaking. Perhaps due to the biting cold but mostly due to the overwhelming sense of occasion.

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Seeing the teams warm up, seeing at close range the players I had only ever seen on TV so close was exhilarating.

The teams then went back to the changing rooms and I settled back on my seat watching the stadium fill up.

A few minutes before 4 and the teams lined up at the tunnel to walk into the stadium. The atmosphere was electric with 75,275 fans attending the historical match and the noise levels hitting a crescendo.

As the teams began their walk into the stadium, the announcer said “Ladies and Gentleman, Welcome to the Theater of Dreams, Manchester United and Leicester City.”

I screamed. The fan next to me screamed. Everyone screamed. I have never heard so much stadium noise. Words cannot do justice to the atmosphere at Old Trafford. You have to experience it to understand.

Antony Martial’s early goal got me flying off my seat. Wes Morgan’s headed equalizer and the unbridled joy of the 3,000 traveling Leicester fans was a sight to behold. The first 45 minutes flew past breathlessly. In the second half the pace was less frantic but the drama was still as intense. The second 45 minutes were topped off with a red card for Leicester and penalty denied for Manchester United.

The match ended 1-1. An apt result for the player’s endeavors on the pitch and in my mind as a Manchester United fan as well as a Friend of Leicester.

Leicester players walked across the pitch to acknowledge their fans. Manchester United fans gave Leicester players and fans a standing ovation. I marveled at the delightful touching moment of sporting camaraderie.

Outside the stadium, Leicester fans were in great cheer. They may not have bagged the three points to win the title but they had got a point and anything other than a Spurs win the following day and their team would be champions.

So they sung and sung and sung. In praise of coach Claudio Ranieri, in praise of Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez.

“We are going on a European tour..European tour..European tour” was chanted repeatedly.

Amidst the boisterous traveling Leicester fans were Kenyans and Burundians. Surprisingly. I talked to them in Kiswahili and they spoke of their over ten years support for Leicester and the delight of seeing them almost be champions of England. One of the Kenyan gentlemen again from Mombasa proudly informed me that he was the barber for Mahrez and showed me pictures to prove it. Fairy tale things.

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This is a story about fairytales. Watching the game in person was the furthest thing on my mind when I sat watching Leicester City’s 4-nil win over Swansea on Sunday April 24th.

“Ulloa again. 3-0. Three points seemingly bagged without Vardy. 8 points ahead with 3 games to go. Your move Spurs. #FriendsOfLeicester

Is what I tweeted after Leonardo Ulloa scored the third goal in that match.

“Next Sunday – Man Utd v Leicester. Teren. Top 4 chase v Title chase. #FriendsOfLeicester tings will be tested :-).”

Was my follow-up tweet.

What I meant was that my decade’s long love and support for Manchester United would be tested by my season long love of at that point runaway league leaders Leicester City.

Manchester United after a topsy-turvy season were somehow still in contention for a top four finish in the English Premier League and a chance to play in Europe. A minor fairy tale given the nature of the season with manager Louis Van Gaal in charge.

However the bigger fairy tale was the almost being relegated to top of the table exploits by Leicester City. A collection of castaways, journeymen, and nobody’s who had somehow not only managed to escape relegation but to everyone’s shock sat atop of the English Premier League.

Imagine my joy when the following day, Monday, I learnt of an opportunity to travel to the United Kingdom to watch the Manchester United versus Leicester City game at the Old Trafford.

But there was a twist to my taste of a fairy tale experience. I needed a UK visa urgently. Tuesday was spent filing and dropping the application while Wednesday and Thursday were spent praying, crossing my fingers and refreshing my email.

An email from the visa processing office on Thursday had me running across town to Westlands to get the results which to my eternal delight were positive. My joy knew no bounds. My fairytale was on track.

Lift off from JKIA was Friday lunchtime. Touchdown in cold and rainy Manchester was Saturday morning.

The tickets availed required dressing up and thus a trip to Primark to suit-up was the first order of business. Three hours, two carry-ons bags and a MacDonald’s detour later I was back in my hotel room.

A quick shower and out I went to navigate Manchester. First port of call was the mecca for many a football fans. Old Trafford. A stadium and museum tour were the goal. Got myself to the tram station after several wrong turns, managed to buy a tram ticket from the automated machine and I was on my way.

Three stops later I alighted at the Old Trafford station. Purposeful strides. Heart beating faster. Mind on overdrive. Imagine my shock when the first signage I saw was Emirates. Did a double take and realized that this was the Manchester Cricket Grounds. Sharp intake of breathe and off I went again. Couple of minutes later and I was at the Sir Matt Busby Way. A motley of fast food joints and a pub aptly named Trafford were begging to be sampled but I had my eyes on the ball.

And then finally there it was. Old Trafford. In its magnificent imperious splendor. The Theater of Dreams. I was in dreamland. Spine tingling. Mouth agape. Hands on my head. Heard myself chant Oh My God repeatedly. Sat on a bench to steady my shaking legs. This was it. This was my fairytale come true.

After halfway composing myself I made my way in. Stewards in the black uniforms and bright yellow reflector coats stood at the entrance standing between me and my goal.

With thousands of fans in Manchester for the historic game to my horror the stadium and museum tour was sold out. I was in shock. So near yet so near. Fairytale was turning to night mare.

As I stood there for who knows how long to catch my bearings a steward brought the news that there was an opening for a 30 minute tour. Oh joy! I jumped on the opportunity faster than Bolt at the Olympics.

Started with the museum tour which was orgasmic. The trophy room is overflowing. The memorabilia from Keane, Cantona, Schmeical, Giggs playing days was a marvel to behold. The video reliving the 1999 UEFA champions’ league final win gave me goose bumps. Seeing the three trophies from the treble year as well as the three jerseys from each of the treble season competitions brought so much pride.

Then was the stadium tour. Walking in and reading the “You are now entering the Theater of Dreams” sign on the wall almost made my heart stop. Short flight of stadium and bathed in glorious sunlight was the stands and pitch.

Standing at the Sir Alex Ferguson stand, facing the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand with the Stretford End on my left. A sea of red folded up seats. The pitch in impeccable condition. Sensory overload as an old gent gave us a speech on the different stands and cracked us up with dry British humor. Time stood still as I absorbed all these then flew as the old gent abruptly announced it was time to leave.

Traced my steps back to the museum and relived the memories. Then finally grudgingly walked out of the stadium.

 

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As I sought to say thank you to the stewards who had given my dream life and to ask for directions to the merchandise shop another fairytale experience awaited me.

“Habari yako” asked one of the stewards. Kiswahili at Old Trafford was surreal. “Mzuri,” followed by “Ala, hutoka wapi wewe?” Was my reply once I got over my shock.  “Wewe wafikiri natoka wapi? Huko huko utokako” was the swift reply.

With the ice broken we chatted for 15 minutes. Mohammed from Mombasa left Kenya close to thirty years ago to study in the UK. For 25 years he has worked at Old Trafford in his own words, kutafuta rizik. When I marveled at the fact that he must have seen all the Manchester Legends up close, his reply was simply, wanatalanta…lakini si ni binadamu tu…What was a magical dreamy experience to many was routine day’s work to others. Grounded me.

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Different from Kenya where the full buffet of EPL matches is on offer to football fans, in the UK very few pubs show the games. So when I walked into Trafford Pub run by Stacy and Sarah and found the Arsenal Norwich game on-going I pulled a seat and soaked up the British pub experience.

Still walking on cloud nine I made my way back to the hotel with a spring on my step.

The title deciding Chelsea versus Tottenham game would find me 30,000 feet in the air as I traveled back home on Monday night.

Having watched a game at the Old Trafford I now broke new ground. One of my traveling companions streamed the game on the plane and my fairy tale continued as I watched Spurs throw away a 2-nil lead at the break to draw with Chelsea.

Eden Hazard’s beautiful equalizer was met by loud cheers and the final whistle and the ensuing brawl by high fives.

Incredibly Leicester were champions of England.

A fitting end to an incredible UK tour that was the stuff of fairy tales.

GOD BLESS KENYA!

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PS: This trip was part of a promotion by gaming platform mCHEZA to reward its customers by giving them fully paid for VIP trips for European live match experiences. Other games lined up for the lucky winners are the UEFA Europa league 2016 finals on May 18th and the UEFA Champions League Finals on May 28th.


Giniwase-chaos?

Sunday, the third of November was the day which had failed to come for many a season. Eighteen seasons if you are keen on counting. To their credit, Gor Mahia players, officials and fans kept the faith, swallowed the heartache and kept believing.

Finally, in 2013, they could say, actually with a couple of games to spare, Giniwasekao (this thing we have taken it) and Ginimarwa (this thing is ours).

Given that the team styles itself as Sirikal (the government), the trophy presentation ceremony was dubbed a state function with a promise of a spectacle worth remembering. There were rumours of suits being measured, limos being hired and conflicting reports as to who between Raila Odinga and President Uhuru would present the trophy.  It was a moment of history in Kenyan football.

I got to town at 1400HRS and Tom Mboya Street was engulfed in a carnival atmosphere. Green and white was everywhere. Fans actually got suits! White with a trim of green or green with a white shirt was the preferred style. Ladies were also not left out with some donning green figure hugging dresses while others went for green and white kikoys.

Unfortunately, what would have been a delight to marvel in was ruined by the sense of entitlement exhibited by some of the the fans. Both vehicular and human traffic was at their mercy as they wailed, chanted and hogged the street. One fan shouted, “Make way for Sirikal and if you have a problem, go to your house.”

By a stroke of luck I got to the road leading to Kasarani just as the convoy of limousines carrying the players made its grand entrance.  It was impressive with the four stretch limos complimented by Mercedes’ and several four-wheel drive cars.

Sadly, what was a great idea was ruined when someone decided to allow the limos onto the stadium track for a celebratory lap of honour. Never mind that there was an ongoing KPL match.  The fans went berserk and stormed the stadium. This lead to numerous injured fans, a damaged ambulance and it was awhile before sanity was restored.

The arrival of Raila Odinga made the fans go wild as did the stadium walk-around by the K’ogalo players who were dressed in suits.

The choice of music was Ohangla and it blared from the mega speakers positioned around the stadium with fans dancing and singing along. Kenyan and American flags blew in the wind as a whiff and at times a cloud of marijuana smoke wafted around the stadium. Flares were lit and the noise levels were phenomenal.

Words fail to do justice to the atmosphere inside Kasarani. Personally have never seen anything like it and I felt as though this was more than just a trophy celebration.

Several images stood out for me:

There was a feeling of defiance and achievement with one placard capturing this by simply declaring: “This is a victory which you cannot steal from us.”

Gor Mahia fans are no slouches in the dressing department but the fan who took the cake was clad in white underwear, long socks and green sports shoes. All through the match he danced – perhaps to keep warm as a light drizzle and a chill engulfed the stadium – while clutching a portrait of prolific striker Dan Sserunkuma. At the end of the match, the fan, still in his underwear went into the middle of the pitch and presented a very surprised Sserunkuma with the portrait.

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As the Gor players did their lap on honour in the stadium, impeccably dressed in lime green suits, white shirts, dark green ties and black shoes, I spied among them Rama Salim looking lost and forlorn in jeans, tshirt and sneakers. For context, Rama played for Gor in the first leg of the season and he and Sserunkuma had a brilliant partnership. To everyone’s surprise and the club’s dismay, he ditched Gor for Arab money, signing up to an obscure team in the Gulf. Watching him, I wondered whether he regretted his decision.

After a thunderous rendition of the Gor Mahia anthem, the match kicked off. K’ogalo players were clearly overawed by the occasion. Or maybe for them it was just a formality before the trophy was presented. Either way, KCB played delightful one-touch football and took a two nil lead into the break.

On the stands the party continued albeit in a muted tone. The fans were getting restless since KCB were hell-bent on spoiling their party. The entry into the stadium of roughly thirty anti-riot police led to ugly scenes. Apart from horrid verbal abuse, the fans threw plastic water and soda bottles, broken seats, beer cans and even poured water on the cops who exited and stood at the entrance of several gates. It was a shocking display of anti-authority.

Just a few minutes to seven in the evening, the referee blew the whistle and the K’ogalo fraternity was put out of its misery. Despite the two nil loss to KCB, the Okombe (trophy) was Gor’s.

The trophy presentation which was the point of the point of the afternoon was nothing to write home about. The Kenyan Premier League management did make a gallant attempt to put on a show like normally seen abroad. Confetti, fireworks, a winner’s podium, the works but it all seemed rushed and somehow not authentic.

Unfortunately, no sooner had Jerim Onyango lifted the trophy aloft and even before the rest of the Gor Mahia had a chance to hold the hard fought for trophy; shots of teargass rent the air. This was because thousands of fans were invading the pitch overwhelming the thirty or so anti-riot police. Alas, there was to be no orderly celebration.

That for me was my cue to leave.

As I walked out of the stadium in the dark, with thousands of fans making deafening noise around me, I reflected on the afternoon.

There had been glimpses of excellence and even moments of heart-warming expression. However, these were drowned out by excesses of unprofessionalism and hooliganism. Sadly, a fitting metaphor for what is the state of Kenyan football. I also thought of what could be a booming professional football industry in Kenya as opposed to the infrequent current sparks in the dark.

One day, it will happen, I told myself, one day, and hopefully, it would not take 18 years. However, getting to town at around 2100HRS and seeing the mayhem being caused by a section of Gor fans around the Tom Mboya monument, I was not so sure.

There you have it. K’ogalo, the Kenya Premier League Champions 2013. K’Ogalo, the team which is never far from chaos and mayhem.

Good and Bad.

Wonder what comes to the mind of Kenyans when they think K’Ogalo?

GOD BLESS KENYA!

(Images courtesy of Google)


Proudly Kenyan!

I love sports. This past weekend was a brilliant sporting weekend for Kenyan national teams in various categories. I take this opportunity to salute the sportsmen and sportswomen for flying our flag high.

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In athletics, the Kenya team to the World Cross Country Championship battled muddy and icy conditions to register wins. I pay tribute to the entire tem and pay special tribute to Japeth Korir who bagged the elusive gold in the 12km senior men’s race. The 19-year old joins a prestigious club of John Ngugi, Paul Teregat, Joseph Ebuya and Kenenisa Bekele. Not a small feat. Hongera!

Japheth Korir

Japheth Korir – Winner 12km Men’s race

In rugby, the Kenya sevens team was at the Hong Kong Sevens. They emerged fourth in this leg and are placed fifth in the IRB world standings. While I pay tribute to the entire team I wish to pick out two players who stood out for me; Willy ‘Lomu’ Ambaka whose receiving of the ball from kickoffs and amazing runs are a sight to behold and Biko Adema who had an almost 100% conversion record. These are a bunch of armatures who juggle work, school and other commitments in addition to rugby but are mashing it up with the best in the world in their field. They embody the never-say-die-in-your-face Kenyan spirit.  For the joy and occasional heartache that their performance delivers consistently as they journey around the world, I say asante!

Biko Adema

Biko Adema

In football, Harambee Stars traveled to Nigeria and secured a draw against the defending African champions. This was after they were accorded shoddy treatment by their hosts. It is worth noting that the Stars were leading from the 35th minute and the Nigerians equalized in the 94th minute with the match ending in the 95th minute. Apart from the shock result, there is the fact that the boys played attractive football; they showed self-belief and the free-kick that delivered the goal was sublime. I pay tribute to the entire Harambee Stars team and pay special tribute to my man-of-the-match Francis Kahata who had the match of his life.  Great job Harambee Stars, keep it up!

Francis Kahata

Francis Kahata

These men and women are true Kenyan heroes. They give their blood, sweat and tears for the sake of our country and they deserve respect, recognition, and accolades! They also give us priceless joy, pride and bring us together like nothing else does. I salute them. I am proudly Kenyan!

GOD BLESS KENYA!

***All images are courtesy of Google***


Beauty of Concours d’ Elegance

Check out here for more info on  Concours d’ Elegance.

GOD BLESS KENYA!


Safaricom Sevens 2012

Safaricom Sevens is billed as Kenya’s and to some Africa’s premier rugby event. It celebrated its 17th birthday this past weekend.

Since 2000 I have not attended the tournament but this year I broke my hiatus and was at Nyayo Stadium all of Sunday to sample the rugby and atmosphere.

Image | Google

These are my reflections:

The Good

1. Nuturing of talent. It was great to see Under-12, Under-14 and the University teams.

2. The coach has a bigger selection of international quality players available to pick from going by the standards of Morans (2nd placed) and Shujaa (3rd placed).

3. The expression of patriotism was amazing. Folks donned national flag colors, got painted, carried flags. In a country where tribalism is rife, that was refreshing to see.

4. I was socialized into rugby on Ngong Road. Therefore I was skeptical on the move from KRFUEA. Also wondered on the security. After Sunday I was sold on the move. Nyayo Stadium has potential. It just needs to get nurtured.

5. The security has intense, had to endure six body searches before entry into the stadium.

6. Safaricom did try to relieve the fans of the torture from the sun by providing branded mini-umbrellas, big umbrellas, helmets and hats. For that I applaud them.

7. Russia (the stands directly opposite the VIPS) was ROCKING! It was a-laugh-a-minute.

The Bad

1.  The KK guards were pretty rude.

2. The rule about no food and drinks from outside was not uniformly enforced. The group I was with have to give away fruits and water. Imagine our surprise when we got into the stadium and folk had sandwiches, bottles of wine, vodka and all manner of food and drinks from outside.

3. Speaking of food and drinks, the vendors at the event charged exorbitant prices. Seeking to take rugby to the masses should also include vendors being considerate to mwananchi.

4. On Friday and Saturday there was limited coverage on mainstream media as Gor v AFC grabbed all the headlines. This was slightly remedied on Sunday though.

5. A well-manned social media account preferably twitter would have come in handy to enable fans plan their day by providing match day fixtures and times.

6.  Only VIP and hospitality sections were tented. The fans in the rest of the stadium were left to open to the vagaries of the intense sun. How much would it cost Safaricom to provide tenting for all?

8. Got into Nyayo at 9.30am. Matches were already on-going. Fans were steadily streaming in. However mounds of garbage from the previous day were gathered at various points around the stadium awaiting collection. This finally happened at around 11am.

9. Also noticed that the Coke vendors directly in front of Russia had tattered branded umbrellas. Not a good look for a major event.

10. It was ironic that Safaricom sponsored the tournament but Safaricom cellphone internet was a matter of chance. Half the time I could not log on.

11. This was the first major rugby event that I have attended that I did not see Arigi, the staple of Kenya rugby for the last 15years. What happened to him? Who are the new people running the cheering squad? They are not cool. Ministry of Rugby do something!

12. In related news, Come baby come is now a rugby chant. How now?????

13. 90% of folk there are clueless about rugby and are there for the carnival. The carnival fans are great but wish the numbers of folk who get rugby would get to at least 50% of the crowd.

The Ugly

1. The dispensing of the branded merchandise was handled badly. Officials threw the Safaricom merchandise at fans in the stands who then scrambled for them, this would easily have led to a stampede.

2.Most fans are clueless about old school rugby songs. Aren’t they being sang in school, uni or club rugby matches? It would be very sad if the songs which are our heritage were to die off.

3. The women in minis, heels and makeup. Honey, it is rugby. Jeans, shorts, sandals/sneakers will do.

Bonus

This was my 7s moment (the two were seated next to me in the stands and were speaking in Kiswahili):

Chic: (Sips beer, puffs cigarette) Do you understand the rules of this game?

Guy: Kinda

Chic: I have no absolutely idea. I just come to look at the well-built guys in tight shorts running around.

Me: HAHAHAHA!

GOD BLESS KENYA!


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