Nandi County Governor, Stephen Sang and Mosop Member of Parliament, Vincent Tuwei have called for a rethink on the attitude towards the sports industry by the national government.
Speaking during the launch of the 10th edition of the Ndalat Gaa Cross Country yesterday, the two observed that it is a pity how the industry is allocated meagre resources despite athletes being the country’s best brand ambassadors globally.
While making a reference to failure by the government to honour world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge, Tuwei observed that it is a pity that such icons are well received and celebrated abroad while at home is it just business as usual.
“Why do we have our athletes conquering and winning titles abroad yet return home like cowards? asked Tuwei. “Look at even the way we provide budget for sports (at Treasury), peanuts… leaving the industry at the mercy of betting companies.”
But while observing that corporate companies are an important aspect of sports sponsorships, he said: “It is our responsibility as Kenyans to budget properly and allocate enough resources to support our sport, especially athletics since athletes are selling the country better that the Ministry of Tourism.”
“I think it is very important for us to realise that, other than tourism and agriculture, one of the other key economic venture in our republic is sporting activities. If there are ambassadors who have branded our country globally, it is the athletes,” said Sang.
“But it is very unfortunate and saddening that the budgetary allocation by the national government towards sport is absolutely disappointing. I hope the national government can appreciate the role our athletes play in ensuring our flag fly high out there and invest heavily in the industry. You cannot afford to reap where you have not invested.”
Sang observed that promoting athletes from the uniformed forces to higher ranks at their various departments when they excel in sport is good but some who perform exemplary, like Kipchoge, should be appointed goodwill ambassadors with the various diplomatic missions.