Alumni associations not just for sharing WhatsApp jokes.

Alumni associations not just for sharing WhatsApp jokes.

Former students of Kakamega High School building a Sh120 million club house and stadium

Kakamega High School alumni are planning to construct a sports club, complete with a stadium in their old school. The news ignited debate on how far an alumni association can go to help their alma mater.

Kakamega High School has gone out of its way to demystify the fact that old boys’ and girls’ associations are just about sharing WhatsApp jokes, collecting money for funeral expenses and selling used cars and plots. Their idea to construct the Sh120 million Green Commandos Sports Club and Stadium with a capacity of 10,000 will change the profile of Kakamega High School.

So, which other school’s alumni can do the same? St. Patrick’s High School Iten has great and wealthy achievers in athletics who discovered and developed their talent within the comfort and confines of the school. Can’t the successful world beaters not give back to their school instead of waiting for the government?

The same case goes for Kisumu Boys High School. It was the granary of Kenya’s hockey stars from Western Kenya, when the Asian community played a significant role in the running of the school. Besides football, hockey was Kisumu’s pastime for the youth. Kisumu town had a highly competitive inter-estate hockey tournament. The hockey pitches in the town were either grabbed or left to deteriorate.

What if Kisumu Boys Old Boys Association led by MP Babu Owino woke up one day and decided to revive their hockey with an Astroturf pitch?

Mukumu Girls and Lugulu Girls are still the harvesting grounds for volleyball players. The Kenyan women volleyball team literally goes hunting for recruits from the two schools.

Old girls’ associations from these schools have names that sound like the who-is-who in the Kenyan public corporate world. Are they comfortable that their schools have no modern volleyball pitches? Whenever our women club wins, they watch TV and are quick to point out their classmates in the teams.

The three great volleyball clubs – Kenya Pipeline, Kenya Prisons and KCB – that recruit these girls from the schools can partner with their alumni to make such projects possible.

Organisations like KCB use their volleyball clubs to market their brand. If approached, they can be willing to support the goose that lays golden egg.

Lenana School and Nairobi School have always produced the best rugby players in Kenya. They had a historical advantage over other schools, having inherited the game from colonial masters. The rugby pitches are not what they used to be. By coming together, the old boys, The Laibons, could easily build a small stadium within the compound. In any case, its alumni hold top positions in both government and corporate worlds. A good percentage of Lenana and Nairobi School boys also have surnames that can be used to open doors in Kenya.

Whatever it is, alumni associations can be very important in reviving our dead sports activities. It is just a matter of coming up with ways of partnering with school management boards. This is possible if they  ensure one of them sits in the boards to push the interest of the former students.

A good example of a school whose sports heritage has disappeared is Njoro High School. Once a football powerhouse in the 1970s under the iconic headmaster Job Osiako, their history faded just the way their old boys association is unheard of. Today, nobody remembers that before Kakamega High School, ‘Njoro Boys’ were the perennial national football champions. Just ask those who played alongside their most famous old boy, Josephat ‘Controller’ Murila.

In Mombasa, Khamis Secondary School and Shimo La Tewa were famous for their football exploits although in a less competitive environment compared to Western Kenya. Their stars emerged as individuals rather than members of a collective team. One cannot easily point out a particular school whose alumni ought to intervene to revive a sports heritage in the coastal city.

Maseno School stamped their authority as basketball champions after their former principal Paul Otula invested his interest and energy in giving the school a sporting identity. It is now up to Maseno Old Boys Association to do what  Kakamega High School has done. They can pick up one pitch or court and modernise it for posterity. It is time alumni associations rescued their old schools from losing their sports heritage.

Green Commandos players celebrating after scoring against Vihiga High School during the Airtel Rising Star School Championship games in July 2015 [PHOTO:FILE]