Coach defends cash-strapped Kabaddi squad, eyes USA
The Kenya national men’s Kabaddi Head Coach Laventer Ogutu bore an air of contentment as the team that won bronze at the global beach tournament in Mauritius returned to the country on Tuesday.
Rocked by crippling financial constraints, the team could only afford to field a men’s team at the inaugural competition where they won one game and lost twice to finish third behind champions Sri Lanka and Oman.
Kenya’s only win came against the hosts Mauritius but Ogutu defended her players for ‘doing their best’ despite lamentable preparation and little financial support.
“I call upon our President, the Government and the private sector to come through for us and especially the players since they sacrifice a lot to get out there and play. Getting the bronze with their level of preparation is commendable and shows how hard they worked.
“If you look at a team like Sri Lanka, we are better than them in terms of height and strength but they end up beating us because they have better preparation and have a mental edge over our players.
“They have jobs, kits, training facilities and all the support they needed. Most of the time such players will do better since they have all that is needed to play well unlike us who we go to play at times even without having a meal,” Ogutu lamented.
Captain David Shilisia decried the lack of basic facilities such as a training camp and kits that contributed to their poor preparation and ultimately their dismal showing.
The team is scheduled to travel to the USA on an invitational tour between April 20 and May 7 and have launched appeals to the government to help raise the Ksh5m needed to fund the trip.
“We urge the Sports Ministry to move in after turning us down in the previous tournament because they can always find a way to help these young people. Kabaddi is a new sport but they’re already showing great promise without making any demands for medical insurance or even allowances,” Ogutu underscored.
The team resumes training next week at the USIU grounds in Nairobi.
-Report by Robi Chacha.
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