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Athletics Kenya to start counselling athletes

Athletics Kenya (AK) is considering setting up a psychosocial support desk to offer counselling to athletes and coaches affiliated to the body.

AK Senior Vice President and Coordinator of Competitions, Paul Mutwii said that the athletics governing body was alarmed by the rising cases of homicide and suicide among sportsmen which he attributed to mental health issues.

Mutwii said that in addition to psychological support, AK will in the coming days equip athletes with financial management skills to help them manage better the millions earned during their athletics career.

Citing the recent incidents highlighting how former world champions were languishing in poverty after retirement, Mutwii said such cases were due to lack of financial literacy skills.

“We have a situation where athletes cannot even cater for their medical bills or take care of themselves after retiring from sports and this is what we want to address with the help of specialists who can talk to these athletes and try to guide them on how to cope with life when active and even after they retire,” he said.

Mutwii who was speaking at the close of a consultative meeting with athletes and coaches in Nyeri also expressed concern over the declining number of upcoming sportsmen from the county.

He challenged budding athletes to take advantage of the conducive altitudes and grooming from track veterans from the region to restore Nyeri to its former glory as a hub of world-class athletes.  

“We used to have very big names like Catherine Ndereba, Douglas Wakiihuri, Jane and Margaret Ngotho but we have realised that we are no longer getting athletes from this region. For instance, we did not have anyone from Central in the Tokyo Olympics. As Athletes Kenya we are not seeing why with everything that Nyeri has to offer cannot give us another generation of champions,” said Mutwii.

Also present during the event was Nyeri Education CEC, Margaret Macharia who said that the county government was ready to partner with the government to improve the welfare of sportsmen in the county.

She said that the construction of Ruring’u Stadium had resumed and it would provide the ideal training ground for the athletes.

 Macharia also cautioned athletes from getting entangled in toxic relationships which she said had robbed the country of great talent. “It is sad that we are losing young people because of love. It is even sadder because some of the cases are linked to poor management of their resources. You must learn to take ‘No’ as an answer. If your partner leaves you, it is important for you to move on,” said Macharia.  

During deliberations gender-based violence, doping, lack of psychosocial support, lack of training facilities and poor knowledge of investment emerged as the key issues that the athletes would like AK to address.

AK has been since November 8 holding consultative meetings with key players in the field of athletics in different counties in the country.

The forum in Nyeri was the third meeting with Mutwii saying that they will be touring 12 more regions in coming days.

This year Kenya managed to successfully hold World Athletics Under 20 Championship between August 18 and 22 and is now targeting to host the seniors’ global event in future.

Immediately after curtains fell on the global sporting showpiece, AK president Jackson Tuwei announced that Kenya was among the countries that will be fighting for the hosting rights of the World Championship event after Oregon, next year.

A decade ago, Kenya inscribed her name in the global sporting pages after staging the first World Cross Country Championship in Mombasa.

“We hosted the first world event ten years ago. In 2018 we hosted the World Under 18, here at Kasarani. In 2021, we hosted the World Under 20. What is next?” posed Tuwei when pressed to comment about Kenya’s prospect of staging the global event.

The World Athletics Council is yet to announce the host for the 2025 event and Tuwei hopes that the country will be handed the right to host the event.

By Samuel Maina and Wangari Mwangi 

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