Kenya: Government to Invest Sh192 Million in 42 Athletics Camps - CS Ababu

26 December 2023

Nairobi — Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba has revealed that the government has rolled out a financial package of Sh192mn to finance the setting up of 42 athletics camps across the country.

The Cabinet Secretary says this is in line with the 'Talanta Hela' program, which aims at nurturing sports talent bottom up.

He says this is in a deliberate effort to improve the athletics fortunes of the country, especially coming at a time when Kenya is beginning to play catch up in what has for a long time been its traditional sport.

"We want to have a pipeline of talent that can convey these athletes from the lowest levels to a point where they can be nurtured," CS Ababu said in an exclusive interview with Capital Sports.

He added that these camps will be spread across the country, but majority will be in areas with abundant athletics talent, especially in the north rift.

"Athletics Kenya has done the mapping for us. You will find that some counties may have two or three camps but we have ensured that the whole country is covered," further added the CS.

He says that the biggest concern for him especially has been Kenya's loss on the grip of the steeplechase, a race traditionally known to be Kenya's forte.

Kenya lost both the Olympics and world titles in Tokyo 2020 and the subsequent two World Championships to Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali, and this has been a massive concern for him.

CS Ababy says Kenya must reclaim the steeplechase title and as such, two of the 42 camps will be exclusively reserved for steeplechase training.

"We will equip those two camps with top of the art steeplechase facilities because we want to reclaim steeplechase back. The loss is a lesson that however good you are, if you are not deliberate, intentional and structured in investing in talent development, you will lose your spot," he notes.

The CS adds; "We did not invest while others did so in training and development and they have taken the steeplechase away."

The Cabinet Secretary said that the success witnessed with the inaugural edition of the Talanta Hela Under-19 football tournament is testament enough that investing in youth development is the only way to improve national team and individual performance in sports.

"We do well despite the fact that we don't invest in youth development. However, if you do that for too long, you will be found out and lose your spot," noted Ababu.

He says the plan is to extend the Talanta Hela program into other sports, with the athletics plan just one of the efforts his Ministry has put in to ensure that all sports are covered.

"Talanta Hela is not restricted just to football. We started with football because when I came into office, football is where we had sunk the lowest. We have been able to rescue football with the lifting of the FIFA suspension and we have brought money back to the league," he says.

Adding; "The plan is to do this with the rest of the games and we are already doing something with rugby, with the work around Chipu. We will slowly move this to all other sports."

The Talanta Hela football tournament culminated in the final on Jamhuri Day in Nairobi with Homabay Counting winning the boys' title and Busia the girls'.

A select team of talented players were then put in a week long high performance training camp in Kasarani, as part of the success story of the tournament that kicked off way back in August.

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