Voice of Sport

Games in Djibouti postponed as Kenya team urges Government to throw in full support

The regional games will involve athletes aged 14-18 and Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association [KSSA] pleads for an April date in order to get round a busy calendar


THE proposed launch of the IGAD Games has been postponed and on Tuesday Kenya were the first member nation to appeal to the organisation to set a new date, preferably the second week of April 2016.

The eight-nation Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) said from their headquarters in Djibouti, venue of the inaugural games, that member countries had failed to confirm their participation in time and hence they were postponing the January 16-26 date indefinitely.

Deadline

By co-incidence, when the e-mail advice from Djibouti arrived in Nairobi, the Kenyan games continent management committee were having a meeting on Wednesday morning hoping to beat the deadline of assembling their athletes and accrediting them while awaiting clearance and financing from the Government in order to go to Djibouti.

The Commissioner of Sports, Gordon Oluoch, said the postponement of the 1st IGAD Games took the Kenya Government unawares but added it was not surprising that member states may also not have been ready.

Quota

“The Games were announced when many regional governments had already done their budgets without factoring in the event. It would have been a problem to most countries, ” Oluoch said.  However, the Kenyan management said they were eager to send their full quota of athletes invited to the games and that the postponement could have been a blessing in disguise.

Kenya had assembled their teams in Athletics, Basketball, Football, Handball and Table Tennis and they were all already in training. The exercise was thus disbanded on Wednesday but sports federations told to monitor the selected teams, arrange all accreditation documents of those that may not have been ready and await the announcement of a fresh date for the start of the games.

Packed calendar

The games will involve junior athletes between the ages of 14 and 18 and therefore the Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association [KSSSA] will provide most of the participants. David Ngugi, the secretary general of the KSSA appealed to the Kenya Government to ask the IGAD Games’ organisers to set the new dates for second week of April because that was the only window for the Kenyan youngsters to take part because of an already packed domestic and international calendar.

Barnabas Korir, representing Athletics Kenya [AK] who have a slot for 45 athletes to the Games said his organisation was enthusiastic about taking part in Games that would benefit youthful athletes in the run-up to bigger international competition.

Support

Ndiritu Gikaria, chairman of the Kenya National Sports Council, said sports federations in the country were eager to take part in the games and asked the Kenya Government to assure IGAD of their support.

“If Kenya supports the Games and the Government firmly confirms participation it will blaze the trail. Many countries look up to Kenya to show they way. With the Government supports, these will be very successful games.” The Kenyans also supported the plan for the games to take place every two years.

Recreation

Apart from the IGAD initiative, Djibouti as a country has been making huge progress in sport in general and in particular in football, athletics, martial arts and general recreation for healthy living. “A casual look around the national sports centre in Djibouti, for example,” said Oluoch, “reveals great enthusiasm and full utilization of outdoor and indoor facilities by masses of citizens.”

Chief executive officer of the Kenya Games contingent,  Charles Nyaberi,  said the postponement would enable them to polish up all logistics including acquisition of kit and equipment which would have been a challenge if the games kicked off on January 16.

Safeguard

Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta is the current chairman of IGAD a regional initiative to foster peace and security, develop agriculture, trade and economic and social co-operation and safeguard the environment among other things.

A new date for the Games will be decided in the next meeting of the Council of Ministers comprising of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and one other Minister designated by each member state. The Council formulates policy, approves the work program.

The IGAD member countries are:

  • Djibouti
  • Somalia
  • Eritrea
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Ethiopia
  • Uganda
  • Kenya