The cash crisis in the Sports Ministry has affected national teams from almost every sport in the country. Despite heavy critics from fans, players and Kenyans in general, the ministry has maintained that it has no money.
The painful part about the crisis is that the president promised Kenyans that cash will set aside to support Sports in the country. Speaking at this year’s Beyond Zero Marathon, the president promised that going forward, all national teams will be fully funded by the government through the Sports Fund.
Despite the hope instilled in Kenyans’ hearts by the president’s utterances, there hasn’t been much improvement in the Sports Industry. Almost all national teams have had challenges honouring international fixtures out of the country.
While Sportsmen and Women go through hell in representing the country, the Sports Ministry transferred Sh 1 billion to the Ministry of Health. According to sources, the money was paid to the Ministry of Health about a month ago.
The financial constraint facing the Sports Ministry comes at a bad time as most teams are participating in Olympic qualifiers. Despite the urgency of the problem, the Ministry afforded to transfer the money to boost a project that has been stalled since December 2015.
The money will allegedly be used to facilitate the removal of the controversial mobile clinics from the National Youth Service yard. The containers which have been sitting idle for about 4 years will also be furnished and equipped to the required standards before being distributed countrywide.
The containers were under investigation by the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission over manipulation of the Integrated Financial Management System in the Health ministry. The project, which was meant to help people living in informal settlements to access medical services, was part of the scandal in which Sh5.2 billion was lost.
On learning that the NYS mobile clinics will be funded by the Sports Ministry, the National Assembly committee of Sports was furious and demanded an explanation of how the decision was arrived at.
“We have no problem with the ministry being paid the money but we are concerned about the timing because it comes at a time when the sports fraternity is going through a cash crunch. This does not look good,” committee chairman Victor Munyaka said at the weekend.
The financial crunch in the Sports Industry has been heavily linked to the withdrawal of key sponsors. However, the sponsors’ contribution was not enough to support the sporting Industry so the Ministry also chipped in. The Ministry of Sports was able to do this through the Sports fund.
In 2019, it is only the national football team (Harambee Stars) that has enjoyed the fruits of the Sports Fund when they were representing the country at the African Cup of Nation (AFCON). Other teams have been complaining about unpaid allowances and unpaid hotel bills on their trips this year.
In October alone, national women’s netball and football teams have felt the pinch of the financial crisis. The netball team was stranded in South Africa and were playing matches on empty stomachs. The ladies who were representing the country showered in the gym of the stadium they were playing in as the hotel they were to spend in was not paid for.
Harambee starlets, on the other hand, have been flying the country’s flag high without being paid a single cent. The team is actually a match away from qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but their training was halted because of lack of funding.
It’s a matter of priorities to the government but the ordinary Kenyan suffers. Kenyans need to access medical services but also the Sportsmen deserve to be appreciated for their efforts.
Legally, there is nothing wrong with the Ministry of Health getting a slice of cash from the Sports Fund. However, apart from sports, funding is required for nearly all social programmes that include arts and universal health care.