Kenya: Editorial - Cushion Our Sports Legends

The government on Thursday apologised to Kenya's sports veterans for neglecting them over the years.

Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said her ministry is compiling a list of heroes and heroines whom they will put up in a long-term assistance programme.

It goes without saying that our sports legends have been suffering in silence for a long time with many of them dying in abject poverty. The government has only come out to either help or recognise them when it's too late, with some on their deathbed.

While we commend the government for finally acknowledging the legends, the Ministry of Sports needs to come up with a lasting solution to their plight. Proper medical cover and a financial stimulus package, including a pension scheme, should be put in place for them to appreciate what they did for the country.

The ministry, in conjunction with sports federations, should also come up with a crystal-clear criterion on who should benefit from its intervention to avoid imposters gatecrashing on the largesse at the expense of the real legends.

At the same time, the ministry's efforts should not be misconstrued to mean that it's the government's responsibility to take care of retired sports people. The sports celebrities should not only be a living example on the field of play but also in life through the personal decisions they make.

Lastly, while we acknowledge that sports didn't pay handsomely in the past, some of our veterans led themselves into the path of self-destruction. We hope that the current crop of sportsmen and women will learn from their tribulations to lead productive lives both on the field and off it in order to eventually become worthy role models for the young ones who are coming through.

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