Kenyan hockey has gone down according to Federation of International Hockey (FIH) President Leandro Negre who expressed concerns over nation’s drop in standard of the sports and asked both the government and Kenya Hockey Union to do more in uplifting the standard of the game.
Speaking at Sikh Union Club Nairobi where he opened the Hockey section of the Club’s Mahan Hall of Fame- a tribute to all the Olympic, World Cup and national players who have held the stick over the last 85 years, Negre expressed his sadness with the level of the sport in the country.
“I have been following Kenya’s development for a while now and it’s sad to note that Kenya is struggling every time. Kenya still have a chance to get back to where they were in the 70 and 80’s but it will depend on the support that the government will give and how they will work with the Union,” Negre said.
The hall of fame –Mahan Singh Sandu was named after the late Sandu is regarded as the grandfather of hockey in Kenya. The hall of fame was put together by Sikh Union Club’s assistant Secretary Del Mudher.
Negre whose seven year’s helm at FIH comes to an end at the end of the year said with right investments, Kenya is in a position to host major tournaments and even attract top teams for a series of matches similar to what is witnessed in Asia and Europe.
“I know it’s hard to penetrate the world of football. But with better planning and investments it’s possible. Countries like India and Australia have been able to attract big investments because of proper planning,” the president said.
The event saw the club’s legendary players gather as they reminisced their playing days and were each recognized for their efforts in making Kenya a hockey powerhouse.
Players from the club who represented the country in hockey in the Olympic Games, World Cup between 1956 and 1992 were all honored.
Among the Olympians who are still alive and graced the occasion were Avatar Singh Sohal (six Olympics), Surjeet Singh Panesar (Four Olympics). Tarlochan Singh Channa (One Olympic), Resham Bains (One Olympic) and Inderjit Matharu (One Olympic).
Negre, a former goalkeeper recalled the match between Kenya and Spain during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico.
Sohal, a veteran of six Olympics challenged the Kenya Hockey Union to work with former players to restore Kenya back to its rightful place in the sport.
“After 1988, we have been going down and our performances have not been that good, what has happened? We need to work towards returning the sport back to the top”, he posed.
The national men’s and women’s team failed to advance to the second round of qualifications for the 2018 World Cup after finishing second behind hosts Ghana.
South Africa, Egypt and Ghana have become the dominant forces in the continent since the 90s.
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