Sports sector should get its act together after Rio mess

The enactment of the Sports Act 2013 and subsequent adoption of the national sports policy were meant to bring in new ways of running the sector.

This came after Kenya had witnessed corruption, mismanagement and wastage in sports over several years. The new legal regime was meant to assist harness sports’ potential to spur socio-economic growth.

Thus, what happened in Rio following the revelations of massive mismanagement of team Kenya and related processes, which though did not hinder our brilliant sportspeople from doing the country proud, is a testimony of failure to implement the Sports Act to the letter or impunity at its very best.

The government must act on officials implicated in the scandal to save the sector.

The intention and interest of the Act and policy was for the government to mainstream sports in national development agenda, including Vision 2030 and especially in sectors working to alleviate poverty.

In both the Act and the policy, it is acknowledged that sports are a big time business, which must be handled well for the good of not only the country, but individual sportspeople.

The Sports Act provides a lot of institutions and administrative structures that would otherwise cushion the sports sector from mismanagement.

It is important that we ask hard questions. Do we have competent people managing our sports docket? Does the legal regime provide a way of running sports in a professional manner and not through cartels?

The Sports Act provides for the establishment of several institutions including the Sports Kenya, National Sports Fund, Sports Academy of Kenya, and Registrar of Sports.

Missing tickets

These institutions are given mandate to streamline sports management. The Sports Fund is, for example, required to ensure no sportsperson misses the facilitation to represent the country abroad, so issues of missing tickets should not arise.

We must also address the state of sports journalism. While the sector has the potential to contribute to national development, media coverage has remained personalised and individual based, with a lot of professional breaches noted in both print and broadcast media.

We lack regular serious in-depth and informative stories on developments in sports, which are necessary in such critical industry. Sports is a big business, is key part of the Vision 2030. Given that the country is promoting sports tourism, the sector needs serious oversight.

With weak training, mentoring and professional base, sports coverage remains peripheral in most media houses, thus mentoring and professional growth for local journalists is a big challenge.

Mr Bwire works at the Media Council of Kenya and teaches sports writing.