Saturday, April 29, 2006
There has been a fair bit of talk recently in the press about the new Draft Sports Bill to be tabled in parliament. At first glance it seems that it will improve the general administration of Sport in Kenya - hardly saying much, but well needed none the less. Part of the bill sets out provisions for a National Sports Lottery that will be used to fund sports in Kenya. I have commented on this before, and my stance remains unchanged: If this is genuinely where the money will go, then fantastic. I believe that the economy would greatly benefit from a stronger and better managed sporting community. One only has to look at the success of sports ventures across the World to see that Kenya, with the talent we have available, should be able to do the same. A vibrant sporting culture can provide a lot of related jobs for all sorts of people as well as just the sportsmen and women involved. My worry is that the money raised by the lottery to fund development will mysteriously evaporate and find its way into bank accounts belonging to those connected with the new Kenya National Sports Board. After all, this sort of thing would not exactly be new to Kenya. Raising extra funds for sport is a great incentive, but for Kenyans to benefit, there must be a regular and transparent public auditing of the KNSB accounts.
The Standard also points out that the new bill does not have a provision for limiting the tenure of club officials, and in a separate article notes that the new body will "also monitor the transfer of athletes and keep a record of all existing agents. It will also have the sole powers of accrediting foreign journalists covering local sports events." They then go on to mention that there are no provisions for preventing people who know next to nothing about sports administration from being appointed to run it. In other words, the bill could turn out to be yet another vehicle for power hungry men to hijack, and could turn out to do more harm than good.
The Nation, who broke the story yesterday, tell us that the Bill intends KNSB - the statutory body that will take over the running of sport in Kenya from the Kenya National Sports Council, to have the "powers to approve the registration or deregistration of sports any organisation". Again, this could be a cause for concern. Not least is the fact, already noted in the cricket and soccer disputes, that sport governing bodies around the World take a pretty dim view of government intervention. There is again the possibility that these powers could be abused. Likewise the clause that lays down provision for the imprisonment and fining of sportspeople convicted of certain crimes. I can see where all of these changes could make a difference for the better, and I am not opposing the Bill. What I do want to point out is that it will need to be very seriously looked at, and amendments introduced to prevent things getting out of hand, and the new body simply turning into a more powerful, condensed version of the problem it is proposing to fix.
On the bright side, there are several positives to the Bill. Perhaps first and foremost is the fact that the government ostrich has taken its head out of the sand and acknowleged there is a problem. What needs to happen now is for safeguards to be put in place so that once the problems are fixed, they are not allowed to pop up again. Also positive is the stated intention for the government to aid in preparation Kenyan teams for international events, and in promotion of grassroots and national infastructure. This has been wanting for some time, especially in some of the team sports. It would certainly make a big difference in Kenya's preparations for next year's Cricket World Cup. The new bill includes proposals for recognition of achievements and tax exemptions for athletes. It aims to aid in development of facilities and in funding training and in encouraging ordinary Kenyans to get involved in sports. These are all fantastic goals, and will make a huge difference in taking Kenyan sport forward, and also raising the general standard of living.
Taking the optimistic attitude that the neccessary amendments are made and the KNSB has a positive effect, Cricket Kenya needs to be in a position to take advantage once the changes are implimented. Our position in the World Cup is a powerful bargaining tool, as is the fact that Cricket Kenya seem to have sorted out many of the problems the sport had before they took over. Of all sports save possibly athletics, cricket is probably the best placed to make use of available funds at the moment and channel them into development. The 2006 Sports Draft Bill could have a really positive impact on Kenyan cricket, but this will only happen if things are done right.
Posted by Chemosit at 1:29 pm