Sports are very important in the whole country as they are well ingrained in the culture and society of Kenya. From elementary school, there is at least one lesson per week of physical exercise in the curricula of primary and secondary school that is filled with various sports and games. This is probably the most enjoyable class.
Sports competitions among schools are organized regularly at the district, provincial and ultimately national level for all primary and secondary schools. Popular sports include racing, soccer, cricket, rugby, tennis, golf, hockey and tennis, swimming, boxing, martial arts, sailing, rowing, canoeing, cycling, speed skating. Kenya has participated in international competitions and has won several awards and medals in long distance learning and marathons.
The athletic department was established by presidential decree in 1987 and became operational in 1988. The department is headed by a Secretary of Sports at national level. The objective is to provide “a policy – and a legislative framework for the development of sports at all levels in the country and improve the management and human resource capacity in the sector. The sports ministry is also responsible for mobilizing Kenyans to participate in sports as a way of life and to cultivate and develop young talents in various kinds of sports.
Athletics is the sport par excellence of Kenya. In the town of Iten, where many practices the sport, athletics is the industry that supports the region. Many schools, clinics, petrol stations and hotels have been built with money from athletics. Iten has become a training ground for athletes throughout the world for its altitude (2,400 meters) and world famous athletes who come from there.
Kipchoge Arap Keino undoubtedly remains one of the best athletes from Kenya. He won 6 gold medals and two silvers in several international races. In 1987, he scooped the prize “Sportsman of the Year” and in 1996 was inducted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame for his great work on his foundation that provides assistance to orphans and many other young people.
Several Kenyans have won marathons in the world as the London Marathon, New York, Sydney, Boston and Madrid.
Sportsmanship has always been present in several separate disciplines of athletics. One of the best teams in the country’s history are:
- The relay team of 400 meters won a gold medal at the Olympics in 1972 and gold medal at the Olympics – in Mexico.
- Men’s hockey team in the 1970’s was one of the top 5 teams in the world and has mid-late 80’s as well.
- Harambee Stars in 1987, the Kenyan national team managed to finals but lost to Egypt.
- AFC Leopards football team won the championship clubs of Eastern and Central Africa four times between 1978 and 1984.
- Gor Mahia team who’s half of the players belongs to the national team. The team won three national championships between 1987 and 1989 and the African club cup in 1989.
- The Women’s Volleyball Team was a model of excellence in the 80s when it stood as the best team on the continent to represent in the Olympics and international competitions.
- Cricket Team (1996 – 2003) which beat giants like India and West Indies. In 2003 they reached the semi finals of the World Cup ahead of South Africa, West Indies and England.
For more information visit: www.youthaffairs.go.ke