Deputy President William Ruto has said it is time sports was considered an economic activity like any other in Kenya.
Mr Ruto said while sports is a major contributor to the Gross Domestic Product of some countries, Kenyans were still perceiving it as a form of leisure.
Speaking at the St Mary’s School-Nairobi on Sunday evening during the finals of the inaugural under-16 Wanyama Cup football tournament, the Deputy President called on the youths to mimic the Kenyan international Victor Wanyama and his brother McDonald Mariga.
“These two men are our heroes. They have shown that Kenya is not only home to athletics and rugby but also soccer. I applaud you for aiding the youths in exploiting their football talent,” said Mr Ruto.
Mr Ruto said sports was a powerful stage for uniting Kenyans, besides depressing the young people from engaging in anti-social behaviors.
“Now, youths should treat sports as a productive activity that can empower them economically,” he said.
Citing the blossoming English Premier League, the US Major League Baseball and the National Football League (American Football), the Deputy President noted that Kenya also stands to boost its revenues from soccer, athletics, rugby, among other sports genres.
The two-day tournament, which is the brainchild of Mr Mariga and Mr Wanyama, attracted 24 teams drawn from Kangemi, Lavington, South ‘C’, Mathare North, Dandora, Kahawa Sukari and Ruai.
Dandora Young Stars beat Mainstream 3-0 in the finals played on Sunday evening to pocket Sh500,000 cash prize.
While applauding the two brothers for their effort in helping youths to exploit their football talents, Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja called on the government to put more resources in sports.
He said that Kenya was full of talented youths who lacked requisite resources to fully exploit their faculties.
His sentiments were supported by Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen who said that it was time sports was given more prominence that politics.
“Why should we see politicians as our heroes when we have excelling talents like Wanyama and Mariga? These are our celebrities for they sell our brand Kenya in foreign soils,” he said.
Other leaders present during the event were Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris, MPs Kimani Ichungwa (Kikuyu), Babu Owino (Embakasi East), Charles Kanyi (Starehe), John Kiarie (Dagoretti South) and Tim Wanyonyi (Westlands).