Following President Kenyatta’s directive during his Labor day address on Saturday, there is hope for the resumption of sporting activities in the country even as stakeholders await the joint declaration of the same by the Ministry of health and that of sports.
Sporting activities came to a halt following a raft of measures announced to contain the spread of Covid 19 third wave. Apart from the mainstream top and second tier leagues, community football has equally suffered as the upcoming talent took a break in their efforts to follow set out guidelines.
Just before the announcement of the new guidelines Bangbet, Kenya had organized the Bangbet Champee wa mtaa tournament the winning team Kipaji FC walking away with the grand price of Ksh.200, 000 as 1st runners up AV fitness got awarded Ksh.100, 000 and Bundes Fc ranked 3rd position getting Ksh.75, 000.
Such tournaments held in Kibera and other regions in Nairobi attract great interest from neighboring communities where the participating clubs represent. The Bangbet Champe wamtaa tournament for example attracted over 3000 fans who rallied behind their different teams from. Were there emotions? Much of it was evident especially on the final day as Kipaji FC celebrated their resounding victory.
All participating teams benefitted from jerseys and balls which with the hope of the resumption of sporting activities help them pick up team training and hopefully other corporates will join in to push community football even further through such competitive tournaments.
“Times have been rough and tough since the pandemic kicked in. A lot of things have changed beginning from how games are played to how games get watched and most importantly the game financing because there has been few organized tournaments. Covid 19 has brought a massive loss to the sports industry though teams keep practicing and hoping for things to get better with time,” observed Mr. Feisal Hassan, Coach Kipaji Soccer Academy.
Fans equally remain optimistic that the pandemic will sooner than later be managed to finally allow them inside the stadiums as their favorite teams take part in major competitions.
“Watching my home boys play football was part of my routine because I enjoy watching them grow and follow their dream but now I cannot anymore because of the covid-19 restrictions” noted Mr. Omollo, a Kipaji FC fan during the Bangbet Champe wa mtaa tournament.
“The emptiness can be felt while we play with no audience or our fans. One of the biggest challenges is having matches and rehearsals cancelled and this obviously brings our spirits down but we keep pushing regardless of the challenges.” Notes, AV Fitness team captain David Ochieng.
Community football has over time been credited for bringing down the rate of crime within Nairobi neighborhoods as most youths engage in constructive sporting activities thereby avoiding idleness, drug and substance abuse. Such tournaments such as the Bangbet Champe wa Mtaa should be encouraged to ensure as a country we not only identify upcoming footballing talent but also progressively strengthen our sport to be a career like any other.