Cash crisis at Kenya Sevens team is a big shame

Kenya Sevens

Kenya Sevens Shujaa during the Men's Pool C Rugby Sevens match with Ireland at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Stadium on July 27, 2021, Tokyo, Japan.

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group

Someone sent me an M-Changa link the other day, and being in Kenya with our dismal economy, I assumed it was something to do with a healthcare contribution drive.

Alas, it was not. It was a drive for the national rugby team of Kenya, who for some reason are collecting money. For what? For the Kenya Sevens team, who apparently have not been paid since August of this year.

August this year, do note, was when they went to Cape Town to represent the country that is not paying them to go, or paying them enough.

I say this in present continuous tense because this is not the first time something like an M-Changa has had to be done for the Kenya rugby team.

A simple Google search will pull up several articles on a plea for assistance by former Kenya Simba captain Dickie Evans, who was trying to start a funds drive to shore up the shortfall from the  Sh10 million  the team would need, merely days before the team were to go to France to qualify for the 2023 World Cup, just this year.

Patriotic feelings

They made it, by the way, but we did not qualify for the World Cup. And you could say, maybe we were not good enough, but more than likely, we were not prepared enough – just like when athletes fly out to perform a day before their races or matches and obviously, can’t perform at the level they usually do (because someone has inflated the visa list.

See also: COP27). It’s not easy to have patriotic feelings and a will to play well when you know a conversation with landlords about the last four months’ arrears is awaiting you on your return.

The plight of the Kenya Sevens team is not surprising, but it is definitely infuriating. Why is it that the Kenya Sevens team, who represent the peak performance of rugby in Kenya, who even have Olympic medals, have to be taken through this kind of ordeal?

Why is it that the managing bodies cannot organise themselves into doing the right thing? It makes you wonder why they can’t just steal and leave some, even a little bit, for the players to survive on. Do they have to eat the whole cow?

Remember when the players had no kit abroad because officials at NOCK had stolen it? Can we sink even lower?

Yes, apparently, we can. Asking for help is not the embarrassment here. The real shame is that for a country that produces such committed, sterling, top tier athletes (Collins Injera holds the record for the second highest number of tries scored on the World Rugby Sevens scoreboard, and he probably was paid late for that game too), we can’t seem to get our affairs in order.

We can’t respect them enough to help them grow, and we can’t give hope to a future generation of athletes, because from what they see here, it isn’t a real career.

And this trend of neglect and mistreatment is duplicated across the sports board – our football federation was banned worldwide for underhanded dealings for an indefinite period of time, and so footballers are left to carve their own paths out of here.

Wallow in poverty

Our boxers wallow in poverty and struggle with mental health issues. Our women runners are killed and ignored. Our rugby players are trying to fund themselves into record breaking games – and we know they will break those records, given the chance. 

They already have – all of these athletes already have, time and time again.

My question is, what is the point of the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage? What culture are they really cultivating? How about the Ministry Of Public Service, Youth And Gender Affairs?

What exactly do these possibly illegal CASs do, is that where the money is going? What are the ministers, the PSs, the CSs, doing?

If rugby players have not been paid – if players of any sport, haven’t been paid, and meanwhile people are paying their dues, why do these people still hold office? Why are they taking registration fees? Why has this whole thing not been overhauled?

The Kenya Rugby Union is supposed to be responsible for the ‘running of the Kenya national rugby union team, domestic club and school rugby competitions.’

What are they running, other than their mouths? Heads with those mouths need to start rolling if they don’t have the answers.
 

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