Kenya to host continental hockey championships

ERICK OCHIENG’ writes –The International Hockey Federation (FIH) and the African Hockey Federation (AFHF) have given Kenya the rights to host this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

African teams will use the continental championships to be staged at City Park stadium, Nairobi on September 26-October 6, as qualifiers for the World Cup in the Netherlands in June next year.

The event will see only top teams in the men and women’s categories qualify for the World Cup.

“Initially, the Africa Cup was awarded to Egypt with Kenya and South Africa as standbys, but with political tension in Egypt, the Egyptian Hockey Federation decided to withdraw their candidature and the FIH and AFHF gave Kenya the permission to hold it,” said Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) chairman Resham Bains at a press conference, in Nairobi, yesterday.

The local hockey federation boss said it is a great honour for Kenya to host a tournament of such magnitude.

“We have already presented our budget to the National Olympic Committee-Kenya and the Sports Ministry. We need Sh40 million to comfortably host the continental championships,” Bains said.

KHU officials have said the country’s leagues will commence on May 11 with 13 teams in the men’s Premier, 17 in the men’s National and nine in the women’s National leagues.

League winners will qualify for the Africa Club Championships to be hosted by Ghana between November and December.

KHU said the league will begin later in the year since the federation wants all the teams to pay their fees and other pending monies owed the federation.

KHU revealed floodlights will be utilised to play night matches to shorten the league. Even though the federation is looking for a title sponsor for the league, it is grateful that pay TV station SuperSport has come on board to broadcast live some of their matches this season.

KHU is also due to hold its elections, probably this month, depending on the approval of their constitution by the Sports Kenya interim committee.

Since its inception in 1960 KHU has for the first time unveiled its logo, a player celebrating a goal in the background of Kenya flag colours that has been conveyed to AFHF and FIH.

Tina Okulo, who was the eventual winner of the new logo, was presented with Sh20,000 by the federation which will soon launch its official website.