Kenya may have returned to Davis Cup Euro/Africa Group Two Championship after a breathtaking performance in Africa Group Three championship that highlighted 2018 tennis season, but the team must prepare adequately and early enough for Euro/Africa tournament in April.
The Euro/Africa Group Two tournament that starts in April on home-and-away basis, will be a tough test for Tennis Kenya, which has already presented a budget of Sh8.7 million to the Sports ministry.
Tennis Kenya President James Kenani anticipates that the Davis Cup team players will feature in a series of tournaments in South Africa, Egypt and Botswana ahead of the championship.
Kenya will be battling to either stay in the group or earn promotion to Group One next year.
Kenya also hopes to perform well at the eight-day Africa Zone Five Championships for players aged 16 and under, and 14 and under in Tanzania starting this weekend.
That will be followed by ITF Wheelchair Futures tournament, and later Wheelchair World Cup Africa qualifiers in February in Nairobi.
Kenya was promoted to Davis Cup Group Two, but Tennis Kenya will also look back at the 2018 season with pride for successfully hosting International Tennis Federation (ITF) President David Haggerty in April.
It was the first time an ITF president visited Kenya since the game was launched locally in 1922. And Haggerty presided over the ground-breaking of Tennis Kenya Centre at Kasarani, then paid a courtesy call on President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi.
During the visit, the government promised to support the construction of Tennis Kenya Centre.
Tennis Kenya also won the top award in the Confederation of Africa Tennis for the Most Outstanding Federation in Development Programme in Africa during the Convention in Rwanda.
The 2018 season saw the rebirth of junior tennis prodigy Angela Okutoyi, who made history by becoming the second youngest player to win the Kenya Open after the 14-year-old Wanjiku Ngaruiya in 2004.
She also became the first Kenyan to reach the Africa Cup of Nations final in November in Botswana. Kenya hosted nine other countries for the Davis Cup Africa Group Three Championship from June 16-23 at Nairobi Club.
Kenya, led by non-playing captain Rosemary Owino, won Group Three Championship to be promoted back to Davis Cup Euro/Africa Group Two championship after 13 years in the cold.
Kenya’s Ismael Changawa and Ibrahim Kibet stunned top-seeded Benin pair of Alexis Klegou and Felix Hounkpevi in split sets of 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the deciding match of the Africa Group Three Championship to gain promotion.
It was a thriller as Changawa redeemed himself after he had lost to top-ranked Klegou in closely-contested singles match 7-6 (5), 6-4. That was moments after Sheil Kotecha had stopped Delmas N’Tcha, also of Benin, 6-4, 6-4.
Top-ranked Benin and second-seeded Kenya drew 1-1 after the singles matches, leaving the doubles rubber to settle the scores. Changawa and Kibet silenced Benin opponents.
Namibia beat Nigeria 2-1 in the other semi-final match to qualify alongside Kenya to Euro/Africa Group Two.
Kenya narrowly missed promotion to Euro/Africa Davis Cup Group II after falling to Zimbabwe 2-0 in Africa Zone Group III play-offs in 2017.
This was the first time Kenya was hosting the Davis Cup since 2002 in Mombasa where Kenya featured in Group Two. Kenya would then drop to Group III after the country withdrew from both Fed Cup and Davis Cup in 2006.
Last year, president Uhuru Kenyatta said that the Tennis Kenya Training Centre to be constructed at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani would be complete in two years instead of five.
Mr Kenyatta said the government had allocated Sh30 million for the first phase that will cost Sh1 billion bust said the funding would be reviewed the following financial year, with more funds being allocated.
Kenani said that the first phase will consist of an administration block and six tennis courts while the whole venture will have 24 courts and hostels too.
During his visit, Haggerty also officially opened the ITF East Africa High Performance Centre at Upper Hill, Nairobi. The Centre was allocated US$ 210,000 (Sh21.4 million) after it that was moved from Burundi two years ago.
Olympic Solidarity has also supported the centre with US$ 20,000 (Sh2 million) while Tennis Kenya gave Sh700,000. The centre has 12 players drawn from Kenya, Burundi, Cameroon, Gabon and Madagascar.
Okutoyi, 14, dominated in 2018, winning ITF Under-18 tournament in Burundi in June to join the ITF World Tour team that enabled her tour France, Germany, Belgium and Czech Republic for five weeks between July and August.
Straight from the tour, Okutoyi went on to win the ITF/CAT Africa Under-14 Championships title in Algiers in August. Okutoyi beat home favourite, Algerian Bouchra Mebarki 4-6 6-0 6-1 to clinch the title.
Okutoyi would stun top seeded Shufaa Changawa, the 2011, 2014 and 2016 champion, to win this year’s Britam Kenya Open Tennis championship on September 22 at the Nairobi Club.
Ibrahim Kibet’s four years of hard work and patience finally paid dividends when he beat Ismael Changawa 7-5, 6-4, for his maiden major victory.
Okutoyi would make history as the first Kenyan to reach the final of the Africa Cup of Nations but lost in straight sets to top-seeded Bechri Chiraz from Tunisia 6-1, 6-3 to settle for silver.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
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Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.