Kenya and Cuba have signed a sports exchange programme that will see Kenyan coaches, medics and managers benefit from Havana experts.
The memorandum of understanding between the two countries was signed on the outskirts of Havana at the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER), the organisation that runs Cuban sports.
The arrangement — signed by Kenya’s Sports and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa and INDER President Antonio Eduardo Becali Garrido — will also cover the areas of academic exchange, anti-doping, sports medicine, community sports, equipment and training and development of coaches.
Speaking from Havana on Friday, Echesa described the partnership as a “breakthrough in the development of Kenyan sport.”
While Kenyans will benefit from the infrastructural and technical prowess of the Cubans, Havana will gain from Kenya’s prowess in middle and long distance running.
In the partnership, Cuba will also offer education on the application of computer science to sports.
The National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation is based at la Ciudad Deportiva (Sports City) which is a national sports complex near Havana.
It runs programmes for youngsters in sports (from the age of 12) with talented performers moving to a government-funded national training centre or landing sports scholarships at the University of Havana.
INDER, which is basically Cuba’s ministry of sport, also supervises all Cuban national federations in different sports besides formulating the country’s sports policy and defending the country’s sports heritage.
Echesa is accompanying President Uhuru Kenyatta who arrived in Havana on Wednesday for an official visit and was scheduled to officially inaugurate Kenya’s embassy in Havana on Friday.
Kenyatta is also meeting with Cuban government officials, led by President Raul Castro, and on Friday paid tribute to Cuba’s national hero Jose Marti and African leaders in a memorial park in Playa municipality.
Nairobi and Havana have maintained diplomatic relations since 1995 and co-operation in different sectors, including education.