By JOSEPH KANYI
Strange happenings are going on at a ‘government hostel’ in Nyeri town. For close to three years now, a group of athletes have been living and training at the Central Province Sports Hostel, which has no basic facilities such as water and electricity.
Strangely, the ‘hostel’ doesn’t have a caretaker to monitor its activities and the athletes have no coach to co-ordinate their training.
The hostel was previously a pub.
But for the love of sports, a group of 20 youths have been staying at the facility, which is situated a few yards from the Ruring’u Stadium, training everyday as they seek to improve on their skills.
There are currently five girls living in the hostel, two of whom have been residents for over a year. One hails from Nakuru while the rest are from around Nyeri Town.
The oldest resident of the facility is Philemon Getea, the 2006 Standard Chartered Nairobi International Half Marathon winner.
Raised red flag
The local Athletics Kenya branch raised the red flag over the strange goings-on at the facility about a fortnight ago, although they said they could not act since the facility wasn’t under their management.
While touring the hostel recently, Nyeri AK secretary Mutahi Kahiga urged the Central provincial sports officer to move swiftly and investigate the matter.
“They [hostel managers] may have done it as a positive gesture to assist our runners, but this is not the right way to do it. They [athletes] live in pathetic conditions with no basic amenities,” Mutahi lamented.
“The presence of girls in the hostel warrants special attention from the Sports department, which should have provided them with a matron or remove them [from there] altogether as they are living with men.”
The provincial sports department gets a monthly allowance of about Sh4,000 to provide for at least three coaches for various sports disciplines.
Upcoming 400m runner Esther Wangari, who hails from Tetu, joined the group in 2009 and she is preparing for this season’s track and field meetings.
“We all have a common objective, which is to train and become professional runners. But no one notices us,” said Wangare.