The most popular sport in Kenya

Kenyan football fans
Kenyan football fans

Kenya is a member of the East African Community. Sporting activities have been ingrained in its culture since prehistory, with native traditional sports and exotic sports. Kenya can use sports as a means to reconnect with its diverse ethnic groups as well as receive international acknowledgement.

Some of the traditional sports in Kenya include:

  • wrestling
  • racing
  • hunting, and
  • board games

With all the sport available for Kenyans, athletics is the one that has received international success. Athletics has placed Kenya’s name in the map of the world. Some of the most prominent athletes from Kenya include:

  • Naftal Temu
  • Amos Biwott
  • Kip Keino
  • Pamela Jalimo
  • Samwel Wanjiru
  • Kipchoge Keino
  • Tegla Laroupe
  • Catherine Ndereba
  • Paul Tergat
  • David Rudish
  • Hellen Obiri
  • Vivian Cheruiyot (Laureus Sportswoman of the Year 2012)

Because of these personalities, Kenya has received impressive medals in international competitions like the Olympics.

However, even as Kenya succeeds in the athletics, it is not the most popular sport in Kenya. In fact, the most loved sport in Kenya is football and yet the national team, Harambee Stars, has had little success at the international arena.

Below are the most popular sports in Kenya

1st Place: Football

Football is definitely the most poupular sport in Kenya and its popularity can be seen in every village and estate. Young Kenyans will gather and play some sort of football with some adjustments in rules and field sizes. Adults will gather in clubs and at their homes following the live coverage of their favorite sports clubs in the world. When Harambee Stars, the national football team, plays with other nations, Kenyans are always there for their country. When such games are played at home, the stadium is always filled to the brim with supporters and fan merchandise. Some footballers are also pretty popular internationally, including Michael Olunga, Victor Wanyama, Denis Oliech, and Francis Kahata. There are three leagues in Kenya, with the Kenyan Premier League being a fully professional league. Others combine both professional and semi-professional clubs.

2nd Place: Athletics

As a non-citizen, Kenya will not be the first thing you think of when Kenya is mentioned. You may not even think of the country at all. However, athletics is one sport that has made the most impact internationally. While athletics is not the most popular sport in Kenya, it is the most successful sport in Kenya, followed by Rugby Union. Kenyans have dominated all the categories in the athletics: cross country, field, track, and marathon.

3rd Place: Rugby Union

Another successful sport in Kenya is the Rugby Union, commonly known as simply rugby. The sport is popular among the most elite high schools in Kenya as not all schools support it. Rugby in Kenya was introduced at the beginning of the 20th century when settlers played the first match in Mombasa. Rugby Union is currenlty a very popular sport in Kenya with over 50,000 licensed players in the coutnry. Kenya’s rugby icons include Oscar Osir, Roger Akena, Edward Rombo, Paul Murunga, Humphrey Kayange, Collins Injera, Willy Ambaka, and many more. Nairobi also hosts the annual Safari Sevens tournament, which makes the sport even more popular in Kenya.

4th Place: Volleyball

Volleyball is a popular sport in Kenya, albeit among the younger generation. In the past three decades, Kenyan clubs have won more than ten African championships. The women’s national team has also seen international success with more than nine continental titles to its cabinet. Among the popular basketball players in Kenya are Sharon Chepchumba, Jane Wairimu, Agriina Kundu, Violet Makuto, Noel Murambi and many others.

5ht Place: Basketball

Basketball is also another popular sport in Kenya, whose popularity is growing by the day. In the mid-80s and -90s, the Kenyan national basketball team qualified for the African Basketball Championship, getting to the semi-finals in the 1993. Currently, talented basketball players play around the world where the sport is more popular. Most popular basketball players in Kenya are Onono Fredrick, Victor Bosire, Joseph Ongoro, Griffin Ligare, Koronga Okall, etc.

Kenyans love watching and supporting various sporting activities. It is a lifestyle that has been ingrained in its culture. To recap, the most popular sports in Kenya are football, athletics, rugby, volleyball, and basketball.