World U-20 5,000m champion Beatrice Chebet who bagged gold in the competition. Credit: Citizen Digital.

Unpaid allowances is an issue that has been ailing Kenyan Sports for years and it has reared its ugly head in the game again. This time its the Kenya Under 18 and Under 20 athletes that have been affected.

The athletes, who represented the country in the recent Africa Youth Athletics Championships in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, staged a sit in at Roasters Hotel in Nairobi demanding allowances totaling Ksh 6 million owed to them.

During the tournament, Kenya bagged 45 medals (19 gold, 16 silver, and 10 bronze) in both categories.

The 72 athletes are reportedly owed Ksh 82,000 each, an amount accrued over the past one month. In fact, the athletes had planned to march to Parliament to present a petition to Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen and Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, but were stopped in their tracks by Athletics Kenya Nairobi branch chairman Barnabas Korir.

“The government has committed to pay this money. I just don’t know when but I trust (Sports Cabinet Secretary) Amina (Mohammed). She says they are processing the cash. Please let’s give her time,” Mr Korir pleaded with the athletes trying to calm them.

However, on Thursday, Sports Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia said that the athletes will be paid on Friday but the athletes would hear none of that.

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“We are stranded here. I borrowed money to leave camp after competing at the Africa Athletics Championships (in Asaba last year). They (government) promised to pay us within days but that hasn’t happened until now,” said Edward Zakayo, who won gold in Under-20 5,000 metres race in the championship lamented.

The government is also yet to pay athletes who competed at the IAAF World Junior athletics championship in Finland last year, the Africa Cross Country Championship staged in Algeria last May and the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championship held in Denmark last month.

When young stars who have just began their sports career are not paid allowances, it demotivates them from even venturing further into sports. These kids are the future of Sports in Kenya.

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Kevin Namunwa is a senior reporter for Business Today. Email at [email protected]

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