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Lower league teams to miss ministry aid

By Gibo Zachary
Monday, June 22nd, 2020
Betika’s John Mbatia rewards winners of the inaugural Betika na Community tournament in Kisii last year. Photo/PD/GIBO ZACHARY

Hopes of bailout for players and team officials in the National Super League (NSL) and National Division One Leagues have been dashed after government ruled they have not enough resources to cushion them.

Following the suspension of all social gatherings including sports activities in the country due to coronavirus disease, sportsmen and women have struggled to deal with the effects of the pandemic, which has seen their daily lives turned upside down.

Following the struggles, the government through the ministry of sports, culture and heritage, and in collaboration with sports federations and associations kicked off a three-months Covid-19 stimulus programme late May, paying each athletes Sh10,000 to help cushion them from the ravages of the pandemic.

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) through a letter dated April 21, sought the attention of all Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Clubs, Kenya Women Premier League Clubs, National Super League Clubs, National Men’s Division One League Clubs, Kenya Women Division One League Clubs, informing them that the ministry of sports had requested that the federation urgently furnish them with a list of 30 members; 25 players and five officials of the clubs participating in the National Leagues and their phone numbers by April 22 to allow FKF forward the same to the ministry.

Left out teams

The letter depicted hopes that all these players and officials will get something from the government to push them through the pandemic but following the conclusion of the first tranche of the cash transfer programme, all those hopes have been dashed with cry of bitter anguish bursting from the lips of the left out teams, who are asking the ministry to extend their helping hand to them, saying they are equally suffering like their counterparts in KPL and national teams.

 “It’s all noise to Division One women teams. It’s a shame on the people doing it yet, division one women have got nothing at this time of corona.

It’s a shame to give KPL and WPL Covid-19 stimulus cash package for three months yet division one can’t even get Sh500 for one month only.

A good parent would have decided to sacrifice them one month and give that one month to Division One child who may die because of hunger. 

“Let’s see the bigger picture, the selfishness of the ministry to division one women teams. Is it fair for our senior sisters to get food while their younger sisters die because of hunger? It’s really hurting.

A good sister will tell his parents, mum we have something but it’s good we sacrifice one meal (month) to our orphans girls in Division One.

May the tears of division one players touch the heart of WPL and ministry to agree and sacrifice a meal to their dear sisters, who are in the harsh desert of calamity now,” FKF Women’s National Division One Gusii Starlets coach Lai Oyori lamented.

Cry of players

“Division One ladies are suffering! Can CS Amina come out and say something about it,” urged Oyori.

Responding to the cry of these players and club officials, PS Joe Okudo said that the meager resources they have been allocated is far too little to cushion every sports person in the country, adding that the stimulus package is not of right in any way but a way of reaching out to the most vulnerable athletes.

“We cannot cushion everyone. We are raising money from private sector and the little from the government, [so] this is no one’s right.

It’s our way of taking care of whom we can, with limited resources basket available.

If Kenya was a rich country we would cover everyone involved in any form of sports,” said PS Joe Okudo in an exclusive interview with People Sport.

Reacting to the cry from FKF Women’s National Division One teams, FKF Vice President Doris Petra registered displeasure with the delay but remained hopeful that the ministry will act soonest possible cushion all the teams they had submitted their names.

“FKF forwarded a list of all the teams participating in the leagues and my understanding is that all of them to be given something.

Three days ago, I made enquiries and was informed that the process is ongoing. It’s unfortunate that we have to lobby and make noise for certain things to happen.

I am continuously following up but it’s the ministry to act. I am disappointed by the delay,” FKF vice president Doris Petra told People Sport.

Financial support

However, Okudo said due to the limited finances, the ministry will only support national teams, urging the federation to look for financial support from other sources to help cushion their athletes not covered by the ministry.

“Due to scarce resources and the legal framework the Ministerial Stimulus Package focuses on only National Teams of our active Federations.

However, for football we received sponsorship from Sports Betting Firms which were keen to see the support focus on KPL and Women Premier League Teams. 

“We have encouraged federations to pursue other sources of funding to support other athletes in their federations.

We are glad to note that some are already distributing food and cash to their athletes. [So] this is a joint effort of all Kenyans and not government alone.

Nobody ever saw this Covid Pandemic coming and no one seems to know when it will disappear for normalcy to resume. 

“[So] let every Kenyan who is able, reach out to those who are not, instead of seating back and imagining Government will solve all problems while we are very aware when the economy is down the entire country is affected and therefore the revenue base for government is quickly reducing,” said Okudo.