Athletics Kenya puts agents on notice, they concluded a month-long exercise speaking to athletes across 15 regions as they sought to gather information on all affecting them at the grassroots.
The meetings christened the ‘AK Consultative Forum’ unearthed a myriad of issues affecting athletes and one of the biggest issues that came up was the exploitation of athletes by unscrupulous agents who enter them into races and make away with their winnings.
The athletics-rich Rift Valley region is always littered with agents from all over the world who come into spot talent and sign them up, but most do not end up meeting their ends of the bargain.
“We understand the situation has not been helped by the fact that most of these juniors hail from poor backgrounds and are desperately in need of a helping hand, which provides these wolves in sheep clothing with an opening. I don’t want to be pre-emptive, but I want to assure our athletes that stern measures will be undertaken,” said Athletics Kenya chief Jackson Tuwei.
He added; “Many athletes and their families have been duped by middlemen in the guise of organizing races abroad for them only to disappear with their winnings. Moreover, we always remain hawk-eyed to persons masquerading as coaches to prey on young talents.”
A huge percentage of those exploited were females and Tuwei admitted that this was a huge issue picked up and they hope to address it soon.
The consultative meetings were brought about after the murder of former World Champion Agnes Tirop, allegedly by her lover. After Tirop’s murder, murmurs started coming up on issues silently affecting the athletes and hence the need to speak to them in fora.
Tuwei says they have collected so much information and would be compiling all their findings over the next two months, after which a report will be released and several courses of action taken to ensure an improvement of the sport in the country.
Athletics Kenya puts agents on notice, they went through four clusters that brought together 15 athletics-rich regions in the country where athletes opened up on the issues affecting them, ranging from scrupulous agents to administration issues.
Tuwei said the federation, with the help of two external experts, is in the process of compiling the final report with these and more issues.
Afterwards, the report will be validated by all stakeholders to ensure all the core matters expressed during the month-long meetings are efficiently captured.
According to the data released by Tuwei, a total of 2921 participants took part in the forums, of which 1916 were male,736 female and 269 were coaches and other support personnel.
“We discovered so many issues from the meetings we had and we have already started working on some, which are administrative. Some of the issues they raised include getting approvals for races and as AK we have already started working on them,” said Tuwei.
Tuwei said that although many of the issues highlighted were expected, some of them were quite earth-shattering and a reality-jolt on the need to work round the clock to address these concerns.
Among other issues that were raised included the halting of young female careers through early pregnancy and forced marriages.