In Summary

  • Kenya is Africa’s sports powerhouse and a global champion in athletics, rugby and other sports.
  • One of Kenya’s best-kept secrets is the numerous golf courses.
  • The game of rugby was introduced in Kenya around the beginning of the century.
  • Water sports of all types are available in Kenya.
Sharon Cherop and Wesley Korir post for cameras after winning the Boston marathon in 2012

Kenya is Africa’s sports powerhouse and a global champion in athletics, rugby and other sports. But despite Kenya’s exemplary performance in sports there is a lot of untapped potential.

As a great sporting nation, Kenya is probably best known for her award-winning athletes who scoop several awards at the Olympics and other international meetings worldwide. However, despite athletics being almost synonymous with Kenyan sports, there is a lot more on offer to the sporting enthusiast.

Most world sports – golf, football, rugby and cricket, to name a few – have taken root in Kenya and are fast growing in their popularity and participation. As such, Kenya is now a sports safari destination where one can enjoy:

  • golfing on some of the world’s most beautiful courses;
  • diving in the lovely tropical waters at the coast;
  • rugby action at the Safari Sevens Rugby tournament;
  • high-altitude training camps;
  • and much, much more!

 

One of Kenya’s best-kept secrets is the numerous golf courses. Few places in the world offer such a perfect mix for fantastic golf holidays as Kenya does. The opportunity to play your favorite game, to see wildlife, sometimes on the course, and to relax on the beautiful white sandy beaches all during the same holiday is unique. Kenya has 40 golf courses, 12 of which are 18 hole and 10 of which are used for championship events. Six of the courses are within a 20-mile radius of Nairobi. The oldest 18 hole course is the Royal Nairobi Golf Club, founded in 1906, and the newest is the David Jones-designed pay-and-play 9 hole golf course, the Golf Park within the Nairobi race course. There are several new courses under construction, and a number are being upgraded from 9 holes to 18 holes. Kenya’s ideal weather allows for golfing all year round. For the visiting golfer, Kenya has a broad appeal. There is everything for the fanatic golfer, whilst the avid golfer can fashion his safari to include some wildlife viewing as well. A golfer who prefers to laze on the beach can still fit in a game or two, and the business traveler with an afternoon off can easily play his favorite game right at his doorstep. Despite all the potential little or nothing is done to promote golf in our country.

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The game of rugby was introduced in Kenya around the beginning of the century. During the colonial times, rugby was strictly for whites only. With the coming of independence, and schools and clubs becoming multi-racial in the late 50’s and early 60’s, rugby gained a wider appeal. Over the years, rugby has become an established sport on the Kenyan scene. Local teams have played visiting foreign teams and toured other rugby-playing countries around the world. The Kenya Rugby Football Union was formed in 1923 with a role to manage, administer and develop the sport of rugby in the country. For the rugby enthusiast, an event not to be missed is the Safari Sevens Rugby tournament. Rugby fans from all over the globe flock to Kenya for the annual Safari Sevens. This classic annual event is held at the R.F.U.E.A grounds in Nairobi. The Safari Sevens is now a world recognized tournament in the annual Safari Sevens Rugby tournament in the global sevens rugby series. Having such an event flourishing there is much left to be desired. The potential that our country has is organizing and hosting global rugby tournaments is yet to be achieved. With a little more effort and good management Kenya can compete with other rugby great nations.

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Motor sporting is well loved in Kenya, and includes motocross for the younger generation, motor rallying, off-road racing and go-karting. Just to mention one event – Safari Rally. This world-famous rally is the only African event on the World Rally circuit, and is without doubt the toughest of the 14 international rally courses. The first rally was held in 1953 to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, and the race has since then become an annual event. The promise of the world’s most grueling race brings many international drivers to Kenya yet its full potential of attracting global recognition has not been achieved yet. Are we as a country doing enough to market and promote such a world famed event?

Water sports of all types are available in Kenya. The warm seawater is ideal for swimming, with none of the health risks that inland waters have. Windsurfing, parasailing, water-skiing and jet-skiing are available at many coastal resorts and clubs. Also available is yachting, sailing, boating, kayaking and white-water rafting. The thrills of white-water rafting are possible on three main rivers: Tana, Athi, and Ewaso. For nature lovers, Kenya’s crystal waters in the marine parks offer excellent opportunity for snorkeling, scuba diving and the unique possibility to swim with dolphins.

As an athletics giant, Kenya now offers training facilities for local and international athletes. The International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) Regional Development Centre in Nairobi provides training opportunities for both coaches and athletes. The most notable training camp is the High Altitude Training Centre, which is located near Eldoret in Western Kenya. As a country we have numerous facilities ready to be used by athletes and other sport’s personalities for training.

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Whenever Kenya’s sportsmen and sportswomen win medals and trophies abroad, and the national anthem played to the global audience; the country unites for a cause. Those are moments for najivunia kuwa mkenya despite the domestic politics that so easily divides us.

Our sports men and women are the country’s ambassadors abroad. They can play an imperative role in reconciling communities, since they are highly esteemed by the public. Tegla Leroupe, a celebrated Kenyan athlete, has effectively carried out sports diplomacy in Northern Kenya. Her ‘Tegla Leroupe Peace Foundation,’ organizes peace marathons that bring together professional athletes and warriors from the warring Turkanas and pokots.

In Kenya, there are areas that have suffered years of tribal clashes, inter-clan conflict and cattle rustling. Historical injustices that date from the pre-independence period have hardly been addressed. The country has not yet healed and reconciled from the 2007-2008 post-election violence. Political leaders have failed to unite the country, therefore our sportsmen and women should take the lead in bringing cohesion in the country. When they speak everybody listens, they wield so much power to make a lasting difference in the country.