The South African government is offering Kenya a football coach and other technical assistance, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said on Saturday.
And to set the ball rolling, Sports Minister Hellen Sambili is on her way to South Africa where she will attend a summit in Durban which will strategize on how A frica can explore sport’s many benefits.
In a news dispatch from the Prime Minister’s Press Service (PMPS), Odinga said Sambili would subsequently visit Johannesburg to meet government officials and the National World Cup Committee to explore better cooperation, technical assistance and sponsorships.
“In this regard I am most grateful for the South African offer of a coach and other assistance such as giant screens for 2010 World Cup matches in all urban centres,” the Prime Minister said.
He did not, however, unveil the name and other details pertaining to the offer, apparently leaving them to the sports ministry and Kenya Football Federation.
Touching on Saturday’s 2010 World Cup/Africa Cup of Nations qualifier match in which Kenya beat Zimbabwe 2-0 he lauded Harambee Stars for the “thrilling” victory.
“Watching yesterday’s (Saturday) fabulous Harambee Stars’ match was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. As I told players in the changing room afterwards, I feel privileged to have been able to watch the action-filled game.”
Odinga said celebrations unleashed by the victory were unequalled in post-crisis Kenya, “except, of course, the jubilation we saw over the 28 February Kofi Annan-mediated National Accord”.
He said Harambee players told him that they felt a new energy and commitment because they were no longer dogged and demoralized by the disputes and controversies that came close to ruining the national sport forever.
Reaffirming his commitment to sports Odinga, who played soccer in his younger days, said sports remained his priority as it had the capacity to be one of the engines of rapid economic growth and employment, given the people’s passion for it.
One of the many reasons the passion for sports should be tapped is the role it can play as a central instrument for urgently-needed reconciliation and national unity.
“To ensure we exploit the game’s full potential for our players and our people, the new budget provides one million shillings for each of our 210 constituencies to develop the sport, and we are embarking on a programme to refurbish stadia. The Ministry of Youth and Sport has its own budget as well for sports development, ” said the Prime Minister.
He also lauded world soccer governing body, FIFA, for giving Kenya time to resol ve the leadership wrangle in KFF.