Kenya rules East Africa
Schools have continued to play the role of sports academies as they identify and develop sportsmen and women through primary and high school championships. The tournaments have been attracting talent scouts who flock venues to identify prospects for national leagues. And improved standards have seen milk giant Brookside Dairy Limited and mobile phone firm Airtel partner with the Kenya Secondary Schools Sporting Association (KSSSA) to help students realise their dreams.
Brookside started working with KSSSA in 2006 during the first term games. From the huge free publicity the event received in the mainstream media, the firm to date spent more than Kshs40 million ($470,588) in sponsorship to the association, publicity and refreshment. Talented footballers in the games have joined Thika United Football Club, a Kenya Premier League side sponsored by Brookside since the 2003/4 season. Recently, two of these talented players went for trials in South Africa.
The corporate sponsorship has raised standards in the East Africa Games, where Kenyan teams have dominated by claiming overall position unchallenged since the inaugural event in Nairobi 11 years ago. Ugandan town Mbarara hosted the games in 2011 and Kenyan teams proved superior and well prepared, winning nine out of 12 gold medals on offer. Archbishop Njenga Girls’ Secondary School won the girls’ football title and the other gold medallists were: Tigoi (girls’ basketball), Laiser Hill (boys’ basketball), Cheptil (boys’ volleyball), St Anthony’s (boys’ hockey), Kerugoya (girls’ hockey) and Malava (girls’ volleyball).
All the schools, except Kerugoya went to East African Games as National champions. Kerugoya were runners-up. Although Kenyans have proved a force to reckon with in the regional extravaganza, boys’ soccer title remains elusive. St Anthony’s lifted the inaugural trophy in Nairobi in 2002 but Ugandan schools have dominated boys’ soccer since.
Although softball is considered a minor sport fighting to remain afloat, officials are working to make it a mainstream pursuit. National Olympic Committee of Kenya treasurer Fridah Shiroya heads the Kenya Softball Federation (KSF). KSF has a busy schedule featuring national league and inter-universities and college tournaments countrywide. Africa Nazarene University are the reigning league champions. Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) had dominated the league since its inception.
Polo is an equestrian sport introduced to Kenya long before independence. The Kenya Open, the flagship event of the sports calendar from May to October, is always a spectacular show that attracts a large number of foreign players. The championship is held between two weekends with first tournament featuring low-goal (4-6) players. In the 2011 season, Chevrolet beat Tall Hoarse in Kenya Open and 2011 event by Chevrolet was won by Ultimate Security. They beat Tall Horse with backline goal after a 6-6 draw in regulation time.
The high-goal (6-10) Kenya Open co-sponsored by Standard Bank Offshore and Coca Cola was the high point of the season. Standard Bank Private Clients team – dominated by Gross siblings Tarquin (2.5), Casimir (3.5), cousin Jamie Murray (3.5) and backed by two-goal McCorkell from England – won the main cup with a cracking 9-3 victory over Karen Provisional Store. Murray, named player of the tournament, scored six goals including five penalty conversions while Casimir, Tarquin and McCorkell converted one goal apiece during the match at Nairobi Polo Club.
Playing for Karen were five-goal handicap Brad McGibbon, Tanzanian Jule Camm (2.5), Manyatta captain Jonti Barclay (2.5) and Mbugi Ngugi (1.5). McGibbon got a brace for Karen while Camm had one in the final. The plate final was won by General Motor-sponsored Chevrolet featuring celebrated South African captain handicap five Selby Williamson,Phillou Salle (2.5), Philip Arungah (2) and Raphael Nzomo (1). S
elby missed three penalties, but atoned for the failure by converting an open back-hard goal to help Chevrolet record 8-5.5 victory against Standard Bank Offshore team of Rory Twort (4), Mini Trappe (3), Vishal Somaia (1) and Hansie Bruin (2). Former India captain and four-goal handicap Angad Kalaan’s Dasani team lost to CFC Stanbic 7-5.5 in bowl final. Small tournaments were held at North Kenya Club and Manyatta, Gilgil.