Local clubs Butali Sugar Warriors and Blazers (formerly Telkom Orange) retained Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) league titles at the weekend.
On Saturday, Butali beat Wazalendo 2-0 at City Park Stadium to retain the men’s league title, their fourth, with two matches to go.
On Sunday, Blazers saw off Kenyatta University 2-1 at the same venue to win a record-extending 22nd title in the women’s league.
The two teams are poised to finish the league unbeaten, which speaks to the hard work they have put in.
The decision by KHU to reduce the number of teams in the top league seems to work. The season has been shorter, and teams had adequate time to prepare, improving the quality of matches.
But the league winners will, once again, skip the Africa Club Championships due to inadequate funds. This year’s edition is for Egypt next month.
Again, the standard of the sport locally is yet to match the best in Africa.
Kenyan teams still come up short against most opponents from southern and northern Africa. That was manifested in the African qualifiers for 2020 Olympic Games early this year.
Officiating is wanting, with only a few umpires measuring up to the standard.
This is an area KHU needs to look into seriously if the standards of the local game are to improve. Also, teams have been competing for years without incentives.
This brings to question the ability of the KHU board in steering the sport.
The leagues need to be invigorated with good sponsorship, live coverage of matches and cash prizes for the winners.
And with dilapidated facilities across the country, it is difficult for local teams to display the high-quality hockey desired by the fans.
In addition, KHU must punish league winners who fail to represent the country in international club competitions.
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