Money matters, pressure from family and gender based violence, have been found to be the major causes of depression among athletes in Kenya.
The revelation was made, Tuesday, during a consultative forum organized by Athletics Kenya in Bomet, where athletes were encouraged to voice all issues affecting them.
Emmanuel Rotich, a 3,000 meters steeplechase runner, said the lead cause of depression was the inability for the young athletes to wisely spend money, saying most of them were exploited by their parents and relatives.
Rotich, who was sponsored as an athlete by Government to study Architecture in a New Orleans University, US, said budding athletes found it difficult to manage their finances, saying many end up falling prey for some unscrupulous relatives who collude with lawyers to con them through dubious property and land buying deals.
Rotich noted that in some cases, the athletes made online transactions, transferring millions of shillings to engage in bogus deals while still abroad.
He said there is an urgent need to introduce training not only on financial matters but also on various life skills which would enable athletes cope with challenges of life.
“Money comes in large sums for some of our athletes and when they do not spend the proceeds wisely, they end up losing hope in life. They need to be equipped with financial skills that will enable them invest wisely so that they live a better life when they retire or even in case of a permanent injury,” he said.
Leonard Bett, another steeple chaser from Silibwet, Bomet Central, said the issue is about the high family expectations that puts a lot pressure to the athletes.
Bett said he represented Kenya in the 2017 World Under 20 and that upon his return to the country, his family wholly depended on him financially, saying he was completely broke in just four months.
“You see they think you have a lot of money and they will ask you for everything. If it is not money for school fees, it is money for farm inputs and the list is endless,” he said.
“The pressure is very high and we urge the Government and Athletics Kenya to step in since most of the athletes are young and lacking experience with money matters.”
The over 200 athletes also raised concerns over gender based violence where women were mostly affected.
Disma Chepkoech, said some athlete girls come from humble backgrounds where they lack even basic necessities including food and sanitary pads.
“It is on this background that most of the girls fall prey for sex pests who promise to buy them necessities. When they get pregnant, they know their career in athletics is over since most of them are forced to be married off. ”
Chepkoech stated that the Government should look into the plight of female athletes by training more women coaches with whom the girls could be freer to open up to on private and confidential matters.
Bomet County Athletics Kenya Chairman, John Kimetto, said the issues affecting the sports men and women, were being compiled during the ongoing conversations, and that the data analysis will enable the federation classify them in terms of the urgency with which they need to be addressed.
Kimetto said the Federation was beginning cluster two in Bomet, after collecting data on the problems and pressures affecting athletes in cluster one covering areas, including Ngong, Machakos, Chuka, Nyeri and Nyandarua.
He said the main task of AK was to listen to the athletes in detail so as to come up with professional interventions to address the issues coming out.
“We care and we are concerned about the athletes amid a wave of pressures the athletes are going through. Generally, the pressures are felt by almost everybody globally due to Covid-19. Many people are depressed and that is where we want to come in and assist,” he said.
The official said the AK had not done much in providing training camps since the State Department for Sports was a devolved unit, hence more needs to be seen done by the County Governments in the provision of training facilities, personnel and equipment.
By Kipngeno Korir