Basketball in Kenya is not at a level where athletes could consider themselves professional athletes; they can barely depend on the game. Around 75% of the basketball player populations are youths, who join the fraternity with so much energy and zeal to grow their game and maybe make a legacy in the game.
This fact raises eye brows why it is taking so long to get where it was in the past or better to where all athletes yearn for it to be. Do we tag this to the federation? Is it lack of financially stable clubs and poor club management to support players or is it the slow pace growth of the game?
Besides the likes of Equity Bank and Ulinzi that provide athlete job programs, we really have a very minimal percentage of the players who gain directly from the sport.
The crème de la crème opportunities are minimal and limited to certain talent level players or personalities. As a youth athlete we got to think inside our life box, what other opportunities can you explore as an individual to comfortably enable you have basketball as a part time aspect.
Access to education is key as an athlete to access opportunities; you need an academic background to land a good job, no doubt about it. its unfortunate how a huge number of youths get to join the league and assume that’s all they need in life..! Not forgetting the few who’ve walked all the way and graduated and landed great opportunities besides basketball.
Investing in education and sports training is crucial and essential for boosting young people personal development and job prospects. Thanks to schools like Strathmore University and United States International University (USIU) that invest in effective student athlete programs that hold on students to perform both academically and on the court.
Education is critical but besides not everybody might have a chance to access education due to several reasons considered, their are so many opportunities that we as youths could explore beside education to be financially independent and effectively make use of our skills , talents, youthful energy and time.
What happened to entrepreneurship, free lancing jobs, hustling, employment, getting engaged in skill development projects, NYS opportunities, like it or hate it most of this opportunities need knowledgeable individuals, education is not a luxury for the 21st century African athlete.
Self-empowerment towards education, employment or entrepreneurship is essential due to the fact that age will catch up with you then what next?
How will you meet your demands?
Has this question ever come to mind? what if you lose a limb today, injuries do happen at very critical moment; do you have a backup plan?
At the end of the day you will not play forever. Is it essential to establish something out at your youthful stage or retire and then you have no clue on what’s next with your life, a legendary die poor?
With honor and respect, keenly look out for all the key veterans a good number has been forced to seek employment or indulge in business after retiring from playing. These are personalities that created a legacy in this game, but the reality is, Kenyan basketball is not at a level where we acknowledge and reward legends to a sustainable state. As you wine and dine in fame today just take a minute and think about tomorrow. Yes just a minute.
At 20, 22, 26, 31 you comfortably want to move from team to team, move from school to school ? You have the time, fame, energy and support to easily do that without income, no business and you figure out your codes right.
The big question is for how long will you do this?
Will you wait for 5, 10, 15 years for the game to develop and still be at your best then?
Let’s play and have fun, but never forget that one day we will eventually call it quits.
- The writer is a student athlete at a local university.