Sebei Athletes Association have taken it upon themselves to fundraise and upgrade the Boma grounds after Kapchorwa local government’s failure.
With proximity advantages as Boma is centrally located in Chepsikuroi ward in Kapchorwa Municipality, the athletes’ body has come up to improve the facility on their own to reduce the burden of moving to training facilities further.
The campaign is spearheaded by World Cross-country champion Joshua Cheptegei, three-time Commonwealth champion Moses Kipsiro who is the treasurer and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich.
According to the group’s coordinator Issa Kosgei, each of the trio contributed Shs1m and other national athletes also added to total Shs8m.
This was solicited after the Shs10m sent by National Council of Sports (NCS) through the district was not enough to complete the work.
“We have tried our best with the Shs10m but it was not enough and getting it was a tag of war as few individuals wanted to chew the money,” Cheptegei said.
“It’s very unfortunate, we had to just protest to the District through a march and that’s when they managed to give us money,” the long-distance runner narrated.
Cheptegei and co were triggered after the 18 athletes in national camp preparing for the Doha World Championships failed to get a training spot in Kapchorwa and were relegated to Sebei College ground at Tegeres.
“I don’t expect a high level performance because of lack of a training ground. If we had a training track, we will be able to produce so many gold and silver medals.”
The camp has Cheptegei, Kiprotich, Fred Musobo, Stella Chesang, Esther Chebet, Sarah Chelangat, Albert Chemutai and Abel Sikowo among others.
Athletes from the national camp like Jacob Kiplimo and Chesang contributed Shs500,000 each and so did Moses Kurong plus more coming from runners who hail from Kapchorwa, Bukwo and Kween districts.
Traveling to Sebei College which is about 7km or to Cheptegei’s own constructed ground about 12km from Kapchorwa town is expensive. It is even difficult to connect when it rains. The Teryet High Altitude Centre which is nearing completion is also 12km away from Kapchorwa, where most athletes reside. The few who are able to skip these hurdles train in Eldoret, Kenya but Cheptegei cautions this move as Kenya is facing doping scandals.
“The Boma ground is more convenient and accessible for the upcoming athletes because most of them reside within the Municipality,” marathoner Kipsiro spoke before explaining the need for both Teryet and Boma.
“Teryet has taken really long, they (runners) would be using the ground as they prepare for Doha but I should say there is progress on that facility,” he added.
“These athletes also have their own challenges of meeting their personal needs, so it may not be enough that’s why we are calling upon the general public, companies, and local leaders to support us financially,” Cheptegei remarked.
“Our upcoming athletes are at risk of dropping out of the game because of frustration of lack of training ground,” he added.
In reaction, Kapchorwa District Education Officer Mike Cheptoek says they have no budget for sports.
“The grounds have no specific funding, we only received Shs10m as a grant from NCS for purchase of fuel for grading the ground and removing boulders and it’s not enough,” he says.
“Central government considers Boma as a local ground and it’s supposed to be funded by the local revenue which is not there.”
“We are planning for a fundrasing to see that we upgrade the grounds,” said district chairman Christopher Songhor.
Cheptoek says Teryet is 70 per cent complete and the storage athletes dormitory is done and they have opened the 3km jogging track. Also, construction of an artificial turf and started fencing off the facility and will be complete by 2020.
“Whereas there is development of Teryet, the government should join with local governments to upgrade local grounds because this region has a very high potential,” Sebei Region Athletes Association chairman Simba Rotich.
“It should copy the Kenyans and channel support through athletes’ groups so that things move faster and not through bureaucracy because it takes long,” Rotich added.
Uganda will send it biggest contingent ever to the Worlds of 22 runners to Doha and the event runs September 26 - October 6.