What you need to know:
- Gangla said the board unanimously recommended Simiyu for the job that drew great interest not only locally, but internationally.
- Gangla said they had to look back at what happened at the 2018 Paris Sevens and how the situation was managed.
The new Kenya Sevens team head coach Innocent “Namcos” Simiyu said that the protest by players during the 2018 Paris Sevens should have not happened, saying it left a big scar to the nation.
Simiyu said he offered his apology and will still apologise to the nation for what happened saying it was not the best stage for players to air their grievances regardless of the situation.
Players protested by concealing a sponsor's logo after the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) allegedly diverted the cash rewarded to them by a sponsor from some advertisement.
Simiyu opted to take the blame and responsibility for what happened rather than report certain players for reprimand.
KRU moved to advertise the Kenya Sevens team head coach job, where Simiyu failed to reapply with the Paris Sevens saga hanging over his head.
The protest saw the Ministry of Tourism end their sponsorship through Magical Kenya and Kenya Tourism Board with KRU.
“It wasn’t the best way to air grievances and I took responsibility as the head of program,” said Simiyu, but said that all sports need to have proper communication systems.
“We need to ensure that there are proper code of instructions that are adhere to and followed.”
“We really don’t need to use such a high stage to communicate our problems,” explained Simiyu.
Simiyu, who handled the team for the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 seasons, was speaking after being unveiled as Kenya Sevens team head coach by KRU chairman Oduor Gangla on KRU TV on Tuesday.
Simiyu takes over from New Zealander Paul Feeney, who resigned in April this year.
Also present during the naming done via Zoom was the acting chief executive officer Thomas Odundo, who was among the panel of three, who interviewed 14 applicants for the job.
Others were Feeney and World Rugby educator Peter Hardy.
Simiyu, former Kenya Sevens head coach Paul “Pau” Murunga, former international Dennis “Ironman” Mwanja and Welsh Nick Wakley made the final list of four coaches for the job.
Gangla said the board unanimously recommended Simiyu for the job that drew great interest not only locally, but internationally.
Gangla said they had to look back at what happened at the 2018 Paris Sevens and how the situation was managed.
“The 2018 Paris remains topical in many people’s minds. We have looked back at the whole incident and how it was managed,” Gangla said.
“There have been a lot of lessons taken on board on both sides to ensure that we are able to manage such challenges better in future if need arise.”
Gangla said the Union is quite comfortable and confident to hand over the responsibility of Kenya Sevens team to Simiyu. “We are certain that he will do the jersey and country proud.”
Simiyu propelled the team to two finals at the 2017/2018 World Sevens Series leg in Vancouver and Hong Kong.
Gangla noted that Kenya Sevens is the one huge property that elicits attention from the public not just in Kenya, but right across the world.
“That is why it’s important to get the right leadership that can take the team forward and enable it achieve its full potential. The appointing process had to be followed through to the end with the final decision being the best and to the highest interest of the game.”
Simiyu, who takes over from October 1 this year, has a two-year contract that will see him handle the team at the Tokyo Olympic Games next year and the 2022 World Cup in Cape Town if Kenya will qualify.
Simiyu said that with Kenya being a powerhouse in the world of sevens rugby, the standards must be upheld.
“I will have to come up with the best team and the players who will meet the standards no matter the age,” said Simiyu.
“Whoever meets the requirements and execute my plan well has a better chance.”
“I will always advocate for the Kenyan style of play and philosophy that looks at a wholesome player who is agile in defence and attack,” said Simiyu.