Who’s fooling who? Kenya women netball team stranded in SA?
The alleged plight of the Kenya women netball team continues to draw mixed reactions after claims emerged of them being stranded in Cape Town, South Africa.
Reports indicate that the team that represented Kenya at the 2019 Africa Netball Championship were apparently denied access to their hotel.
The team of over 15 have been in South Africa since October 18, 2019 and are said to have gone straight to the field from the airport for their opening fixture.
The Sports Ministry is said to have secured air tickets and visas for the team with assurance that their accommodation would be paid up once a pro forma invoice was sent back to Nairobi.
A Cameroonian well-wisher allegedly bought them milk and bread and offered to accommodate them.
On Wednesday, the Sports Ministry denied claims that the team was stranded even as Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said they would be investigating the claims.
Two months ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta offered assurance that no national team would ever get stranded when representing the country.
“Tumeweka pesa saa ya kuhakikisha kuwa hakuna team ambayo imebeba bendera yetu italala kwa kiwanja ya ndege kwasbabu wamekosa tikiti, ambao watafukuzwa kwa hoteli kwa sababu hawana marupurupu ya kulipa hoteli ama wameenda kukula vichochorni kwasababu hawana pesa za allowance na wewe unawakilisha nchi yako,” he said after photos went viral on social media of Gor Mahia players sleeping in airport lounges at the Doha International Airport.
Reports indicate that the President later bought air tickets for the team worth Ksh. 6 million.
In embarrassing circumstances, Qatar Airlines had revealed that Gor Mahia had no flight bookings reserved for them to travel to Algeria as had been communicated by the ministry.
The incident had occurred less than 22 hours before their CAF Confederations Cup quarter finals match against USM Algers.
“Tumeweka pesa sawa za kuhakikisha kuwa kila mtu akienda kuwakilisha nchi ameenda kuwakilisha akijua kuwa hata yeye amechungwa na ameangaliwa na nchi yake,” the President added.
The Head of State further directed that all associations and federations account for the funds disbursed to them.
“Hakuna tena ati unasoma kwa gazeti ati watu wamekuwa stranded, we support our teams na tuhakikishe ya kwamba team zetu zimefaulu na vijana wetu wamechungwa na haki yao iko kwa mifuko yao… Na sio baadaye, in advance!” he said.
“…So that we restore dignity to our young men and women who are making us as a nation proud,” added President Kenyatta.
Earlier in the year, the President indicated that sports would take centre stage in the government’s agenda this year.
“Our athletes are the shining star of Kenya, so 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,” he said in March as quoted by the Daily Nation.
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