The Kenya Hockey Union (KHU), with the support of the Africa Hockey Federation (AfHF) and the International Hockey Federation (FIH), hosted the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCONHOCKEY) cum world cup qualifiers from 18th to 24th November 2013 at City Park Hockey Stadium in Nairobi. During the tournament that was won by South Africa in both the women and mens categories, Kenya finished third behind Egypt Men and behind Ghana Women respectively. There were lots of lessons for Kenya and indeed Africa. Africa felt abandoned by the world hockey fraternity. This was inspite of the presence of the FIH president Mr. Leandro Negre in Nairobi. There was a feeling that FIH needs to do more for capacity development in Africa.
Kenya on its part just awoke to the fact that the mens hockey standards are not improving while that of the ladies has deteriorated with Ghana overtaking Kenya in the Africa’s pecking order. Ghana women have had quite a number of international tournament participation in Germany recently and this seem to have had an impact in the outcome of the tournament.
To jumpstart its development program, the KHU in partnership with the Nairobi Hockey Association (NHA) are taking advantage of the forthcoming national celebration of Kenya’s 50 years of independence to organize a hockey carnival. The Union has invited the whole hockey fraternity including retired players, veterans, fans and admirers of the game to come for the CARNIVAL OF HOCKEY event which shall also include family fun activities. The carnival will be at the City Park Hockey Stadium from 13th to 15th December 2013.
Wazalendo hockey club will be among the participating teams in the CARNIVAL OF HOCKEY event. On its part, the club will seek to use this event to launch it’s under 16 boys’ team that is a product of the clubs Young Players Development program (YPD).
Other than unveiling the U16 team, Wazalendo will also look to use the carnival as part of league preparations after the clubs teams (senior and youth) took a two months sabbatical from training to pave way for the AFCONHOCKEY. While speaking to Waza Media, Fidhelis Kimanzi senior club coach said “The team has been on a sabbatical since the league was suspended. Now that we are back in training, we intend to use these matches to get ourselves into the competitive mode.”
Wazalendo’s latest outing was a dismal performance in the Kishen Singh cup in the Rift Valley town of Nakuru over the 30th November weekend where the team was eliminated in the preliminaries for the first time in over 2 years. Kimanzi was quick to note that lack of competitive matches during the league break was their main undoing, “Yes, lack of competitive matches, in the 2 months break plus mixing of players from different teams (U16, Youth and Senior) might have caused it but this is bound to change as the teams are back to full training, the team will be stronger than ever before”.
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On his experience as the coach of the National ladies team in the recently concluded AFCONHOCKEY, Kimanzi expressed his satisfaction with the progress Kenyan Hockey has made in getting back to its glory but was quick to note that there’s much more that still needs to be done.
”Kenya Hockey has had its ups and downs in the last 50 years. The 70s were our highest point with Kenya being ranked 4th in the 1971 world Cup. The 90s and 2000s were our lowest points as the country never participated in any competitive international tournament. We started to ascend in the 2nd decade of 21st century but we need everyone on board to raise the standards of Kenyan Hockey and I see the carnival as a great opportunity to start things up.” Said Kimanzi
“Investing in the Youth is the best way to go. All clubs should be encouraged to have Academies and if possible a league started for them. Most of the best players in the world started playing hockey at age 5. We can do the same.” Added Kimanzi
“KHU should have a long term strategy for hockey development in the country which should have the buy-in of the clubs and the Hockey fraternity as a whole then it will be possible to take advantage of the such gestures as offered by FIH president recently”, Kimanzi said in reference to the offer by FIH president Mr. Leandro Negre recently at City park Stadium when he said that FIH is ready to support Kenyan teams with accommodation and air fares when they are participating in FIH organized tournaments.
Waza Media sends best wishes to all those preparing for the CARNIVAL OF HOCKEY and hope that this will be the stepping stone to the next phase of hockey development in Kenya.
Waza Media © 2013
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