The year of our lord two thousand and eleven will be an eventful year for Kenyan sports teams and sports people. This post is a quick run through the major events in a number of sports that will either happen in Kenya, or involve Kenyan sports teams and people.
This year’s big event is the World Athletics championships in South Korea. At the last World Championship event in Berlin, Kenya’s middle distance athletes were caught up in a pile ups that cost some opportunities in the 800m and 1500 events. These pile ups, in this bloggers opinion, were probably the result of the anxiety of the competitors to replicate the ‘front running’ tactics, which had been so decisive in determining the outcomes of these same races in the Beijing Olympics a year earlier. But I digress, this year see Kenya going into the World Championships on the crest of a wave of success started in the 2007 World Championships. However aside from the fact that Kenya will (as usual) have serious gold medal contenders (if not the outright favourites) all the way from 800m to the marathon, this blogger doubts it will be enough to achieve, what Athletics Kenya officials have bragged was the aim at the last three World championships, outright victory. After all, even at the recent Africa Athletics Championships, we still struggled to make much an impact in the field events. Success at the international level in the field events is the real key to claiming topping the medals table at the World Athletics Championships.
On the Local Scene, the Nairobi Marathon enters its 7th year, with only one athlete so far successfully defending his title. Standard Chartered, I believe will continue to be the title sponsors for the event, which will also double up as a ve`1nue for them to raise awareness about their campaign to raise funding for children will eye infections. I would like to venture to predict that before 3 years are out someone will emerge from this event to claim a major World marathon.
Its World Cup year and Kenya will be making the 5th consecutive appearance in the blue ribbon event. Unless, by some miracle, Kenya is granted full membership (and test status) by the International Cricket Council it may also be the last time Kenya gets to shine at this tournament. Aside from that there is also the Intercontinental Cup, a tournament which Kenya, have not yet won.
On the local scene, June? Marks the first full year of Cricket Kenya with Tom Sears as Chief Executive Officer. He came with a C.V. littered with incidents of turning moribund and struggling institutions into lean, mean money making machines , this blogger reckons that this assignment will be his toughest yet. Despite being the first sport in Kenya to desegregate its institutions, Kenya’s cricket administrators have historically failed in getting the game to capture the nation’s imagination. Something particularly evident when the national team making a World Cup semi-final and still it failed to garner a significant growth in player numbers.
On the local scene, without an overall national league, focus will be on the NPCA leagues. Kanbis look like there may be part way to establishing dominance over the Super league, taking over from Swamibapa at the turn of the millennium. Yet one cannot discount a strong challenge from Swamibapa, Kongonis CC or even Stray Lions.
Harambee stars will already be part way through their first assignment by the time this post comes up. The Nile Basin Invitational in Egypt will see Zedekiah Otieno leading a relatively young squad still hurting from their worst CECAFA Tusker cup showing in awhile. The Gor Mahia Coach will no doubt be looking to reinstate a feeling of self confidence and purpose in a side that was lacking both in December. After all Kenya will be needing both in plentiful supply if we are to realise our objective of making the Africa Cup of nations for the first time since 2004.
This year Kenya faces tough home and away matches against Angola in the ACN qualifiers. Harambee stars are bottom of the group with just a single point and without a goal yet to their name. This blogger would assume that a home win and an away draw as the minimum necessary results needed to kick some life back into the qualifying campaign.
This year’s Kenya Premier league season starts on the promise of one of the best organised (crowd management issues aside) campaigns in a long time. Kenyans are really starting to take an interest in their long forgotten local teams, not that there is anything wrong with supporting foreign clubs. My favourite team, Mathare United, had a uniquely mediocre campaign last season. I hope they rediscover the form that saw them win the league in 2008.
Off the field, FIFA appointed a committee to oversee elections that are supposed to close a dark chapter of wrangling in local football administration. The FKL, which FIFA was a part of creating, has been cornered into accepting a poll, an (bizarrely enough) on FIFA’s instruction converting into an association from a private limited company. But we all know how elections go in Africa, don’t
I start with the sevens team. Even though points say that the last World Series Campaign was Kenya’s best ever, the first two legs of the new season were a shock to the system which I hope the KRU take seriously enough to examine the real strengths and weaknesses of the game, vis-a-vis, the level of competition Kenya are meant to be keeping pace with now. Then there is the XVs team, what became of all those pledges to get test matches against European opposition (YES NINAKUMBUKA MULISEMA!) Will we be able to hang on to both the Victoria and Elgon Cups? It was no mean feat winning them both in the first place, yet I am not the only one who noticed that even within the sunshine of that success there were some pretty large dark clouds.
The Kenya Cup is back, and the usual suspects will be fighting out for the title. The questions on my mind are, will local TV stations like K24 sustain extend the in this competition
there is also the Bamburi Super Series, which goes from strength to strength every year. Will local broadcasters show the same interest they did last year in covering the tournament?
there is the 2011 Kenya National rally championships. The big story there so far is the return Of Ian Duncan to the Group N category, driving a Mitsubishi Evo 9. There is also a growing renaissance of sorts in Karate, basketball and volleyball to keep an eye on. The Karatekas have in particular been very vocal in the press about the scale of their ambitions for this year. Talk in the press about spreading the game to all disciplined forces and what not. However implementation, as some have said is only the last 98% of a project. Last but not least is the East Africa Classic Safari Rally. This year’s evernt, with Kenya Airways as title sponsors could do well in