Kenya: Vulnerable Athletes Need Help From All to Stay on Track - Korir

opinion

My recent visits across the country, courtesy of the Ministry of Sports and Athletics Kenya, has taught me just how much our junior athletes are suffering.

The last three months have not been easy for the juniors and especially those seeking to represent Kenya at the World Under-20 Championships which are currently on hold.

Listening to the plight of the runners has many times left me in tears, knowing some of them are the sole breadwinners for their family despite not having made it in their athletics career.

For me and AK, this was a learning curve and I guess we will immediately sit down and find ways of cushioning them depending on the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The stories we have been reading about, some of them turning to manual jobs to survive, are indeed real. For them, athletics was initially the only source of income and with all sporting activities suspended, they have had no choice but to take up odd jobs to survive.

I want to most sincerely thank the Government through the Ministry of Sports for joining hands with us to cushion these kids.

However, we need not to stop here because we can easily lose them if they stray. The idea is to keep them in the sport and make them believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

This period is very tricky because we can easily lose a generation, yet we know what this has done to other disciplines.

This is why other corporates should join the Government and ensure that this generation remains on the track.

Elite athletes should also play the 'Big Brother' or 'Big Sister' role to ensure their younger counterparts do not stray.

We have been to all camps in Kenya, and the catch word is 'suffering. From Makueni, Machakos, Nyeri, Nyandarua, Bomet, Narok, West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kericho, Kisumu, Nandi and now Kisii, things are not looking up for the athletes.

I believe this calamity is just for a while and the sun will shine once again. However, what we need to do is to ensure we safeguard this generation of athletes.

Kudos to Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed for taking the lead role and playing the mother figure to the young athletes.

The author is the chairman of Athletics Kenya's Nairobi branch. 

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