The government of Kenya has invested Sh190 million to improve sports through the establishment of grassroot centres across the country, the Cabinet Secretary for Sports Ababu Namwamba has said.
The CS said the government would be increasing the budgetary allocation to the camps yearly to ensure that they are well equipped with state of the art facilities to improve the training of sportsmen and women in the country.
Speaking in Iten during the launch of the Kiprun camp, the CS said so far, at least 50 camps have been established and urged the youths to take advantage of the camps whose purpose is to enable the identification of talents and training in a controlled environment.
He said due to its position as an athletic powerhouse, Elgeyo Marakwet would get 8 camps adding that his ministry would soon be rolling out a programme to train coaches to add to their numbers saying currently they were few and thus overworked.
Namwamba who was accompanied by the French ambassador Arnaud Suquet directed Athletics Kenya to start preparing for the Paris Olympics by identifying Kenyan athletes who could compete in steeplechase, identify one of the camps where they would train together for three months before the games saying his ministry would fund the training.
He said this was to ensure that the country reclaims its glory in steeplechase which he said for a long time was known as the Kenyan race but the country has started losing it to athletes from other countries especially Ethiopia and Morocco.
“I have just been told that in the steeplechase, athletes from the same country don’t compete against each other but run together as a group and to achieve this, they must have trained and stayed together at least for three months before the race,” he said.
The CS said while Kenyans have always dominated athletics especially long distance running, other countries were offering stiff competition hence the more reason to invest heavily in sports.
Former Cherangany MP Wisley Korir who is also an athlete said with the launch of a student athletic sponsorship programme, no camp should be allowed to train junior athletes saying they should be trained in the various schools where they would be admitted.
He therefore called on the Ministry of Education to consider their training by adjusting class time saying they should not begin lessons at 8.00am like other students but at 10.00am as this would give them time to train in the morning and take breakfast before heading to class.
He said they should also be given time early in the evening to train saying the training offered in camps should also be availed in school.
The French Ambassador said his country would partner with the country in supporting talents.