While making his speech during the Beyond Zero Half Marathon on Sunday, President Uhuru Kenyatta promised that going forward, all national teams will be fully funded by the government through the Sports Fund, a declaration tailored to put to end perennial claims of lack of facilitation by Kenyan sportsmen and women.
The Sports Fund is a special kitty that raises funds through sports lottery, investments or any other means and disburses the funds for the development of sports.
President Kenyatta exuded confidence that the fund is set to be fully operational and will allow Kenyan teams to fully concentrate on minting out results. Previously the government has been on the spot for poor facilitation of Kenyan teams.
Claims which were laid bare in October last year when the Kenyan Amputee Football team slept outside Sports Ministry offices at Kencom Plaza, Nairobi with the hope that it would be facilitated in order to participate in the Amputee World Cup in San Juan, Mexico.
Eventually, air tickets were provided but that was it. They went to participate in an international tournament without official kits and played their first game hours after touching down in Mexico since the air tickets were provided to them very late.
The team played their matches in jerseys branded Team Sonko a brand that markets Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko.
President Kenyatta however assured that such issues will be a thing of the past.
“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.
In November 2018, immediate former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa promised that the fund would become operational by the end of that month.
He was sacked before he delivered.
The president’s promise was welcomed by sports unions albeit with some caution.
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President Nick Mwendwa told The Nation that he hopes that the president’s directive will be implemented as Uhuru made a similar promise in 2017.
“We have a big Africa Cup of Nations qualification match against Ghana next weekend and up until now, the government has not responded to our request of facilitating tickets to fly in Micheal Olunga and Victor Wanyama,” said Mwendwa.
All other federations made similar observations as Mwendwa.
It remains to be seen whether Kenya can deal with the issue of funding national teams once and for all.