One year has not lapsed since President Uhuru Kenyatta promised an end to national sports teams perennial woes, but in pure Kenyan fashion, the problem has resurfaced.
Roll back to March 10 this year, President Kenyatta told Kenyans that the government would facilitate all sports national teams going forward, a promise which elicited much excitement since most sportsmen and women representing Kenya in various tournaments have in the past complained of poor or no facilitation by the government.
“All national teams, be it in netball or rugby, will be funded by my government. We have put in place a fund (Sports Fund) to take care of that and I want to tell the athletes that they will not lack uniforms or training shoes.” said the president.
But on Wednesday, anger boiled over when pictures of the national women’s netball team stranded in South Africa did rounds on social media.
The government did not pay for accommodation for the team representing Kenya in the Africa Cup Championship in Cape Town putting the team in a tough position where they have decided to brave their travails and play for the country that they love anyway.
According to a witness, the players had been honouring their fixtures on empty stomachs and forced to shower in a gym before a Kenyan lady who lives in South Africa and knows one of the team members came to their rescue and took them to a hotel owned by a Cameroonian lady who has been housing the girls.
The reason given for the government’s failure to pay is that three different quotes were not submitted to show why that particular hotel was selected.
The team which flew to South Africa on Thursday is expected back into the country today. It has lost most of its matches but has fought a brave fight and Kenyans are proud of its efforts.
Read: Sports Sector a Playing Ground for Kenyan Politicians
Wading into the issue, Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen promised that the Senate Sports Committee would investigate the matter.
The teams struggles in South Africa made Kenyans channel their anger to the Sports Ministry and many Kenyans were keen to refer back to Uhuru’s promise.
Debate on the Ministry’s competence is likely to be sustained in the near future especially in the wake of the government’s failure to deliver its stadia pledge.
Ironically, the netball’s team’s woes comes a few days after President Kenyatta awarded marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge with the Elder of the Golden Heart (EGH) for his exploits in the INEOS 1:59:59 challenge.
All politicians want to associate themselves with the self-made Kipchoge.
University of Nairobi (UON) lecturer and political commentator Herman Manyora has been vocal in his criticism of the Jubilee government’s complacency in the handling of the sports sector.
See also: How Sports Kenya Stalled Stadia Construction
Speaking during the release of a report by CPS International on electoral voting systems in Kenyan universities on July 23 this year Manyora warned Kenyans to be prepared for more misery in the sports sector since sports is not “a priority” for the government.
“I am surprised at how the government keeps failing to realise the importance of sports in a country. In other economies, sports is a key ministry but in Kenya if you are the most useless cabinet secretary you are assigned the sports ministry,” noted Manyora.
Meanwhile, CS Amina Mohamed appearing before MPs on Thursday denied the claims that the netball team is stranded as a social media fabrication picked up by mainstream media.
“I can confirm that the team is not stranded. My witness is Senator Getrude Musurive,” said CS Amina “Anything in the mainstream media should not be considered as gospel truth,” .