Olesia calls for more support to women’s rugby locally
Kenya lioness’s player Bernadette Olesia has called out Kenyans and the government in particular to support women’s rugby.
Speaking to People Daily, Olesia was unimpressed with the current situation locally.
“Women’s rugby in Kenya is not handled like the men’s. we feel neglected and unimportant as compared to our male counterparts who get all the attention and resources,” said Olesia.
The Kenya national team forward lamented the poor state of events either in the leagues or even at the national team level.
“ I dream of a day where even our league matches will be played at Kasarani Stadium and attract even 20,000 fans. Kenyans are simply not interested in watching women play rugby,” Olesia complained, adding that even the resources channelled to them are minimal, especially financially.
The Kenya 15s women’s rugby team had a go-slow in December 2022 where it is alleged that some players boycotted practice sessions citing non-payment of allowances.
Some players who did not want their names mentioned added that even at the club level, women are treated differently compared to men, something they see as discriminatory.
“ I can’t remember the last time I got paid at club level, let alone playing under a contract. At the national team sometimes we get some money, but not always. It is difficult for a single mother like me hence I have to look for odd jobs and only play rugby as a hobby, but not a career,” said an unnamed player.
Olesia and company had their last assignment in 2022, November, in Kampala when they mauled hosts Uganda to top group B of the Africa cup.
The Dennis Mwanja-led side now has qualified for the Africa Cup group A where they will face South Africa and Namibia later this year and Olesia is now promising Kenyans that they will deliver despite their challenges.
Olesia, Shama’s rugby player who is currently loaned at Northern Suburbs is however not giving up on rugby and is now calling stakeholders to rescue women’s rugby and turn it into a career worth looking at.
She asks Kenyans not to panic and promises positive results when they face the already-developed South Africa, and the tricky Namibians later this year.