Kenyans yesterday reacted angrily to reports that the national women’s netball team spent nights out in the cold in South Africa because they could not afford accommodation.
The team is representing Kenya at the 2019 Africa Netball Championship in Cape Town.
Kenyans took to social media to express their deep disappointment with the Ministry of Sports following revelations that the team was bailed out by a Cameroonian well-wisher who bought them milk and bread, and offered alternative accommodation.
On a Twitter thread, @Olaata poked fun at Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed asking: “Ako wapi waziri wa pongezi na maswala ya hongera?” (Where is the Minister of Praises and Congratulatory Affairs?)
@Zeff16 added: “I salute @EliudKipchoge for jetting back silently to deny them (Sports ministry) ground for displaying their hypocrisy. What will happen if the sportsmen decline to represent Kenya in future?”
The netball team arrived in South Africa on Thursday last week and went straight to the courts from the airport to honour their opening fixture.
The Ministry of Sports had secured them air tickets and visas to South Africa last week and promised to cater for their accommodation.
However, on arrival in Cape Town , they were given a rude welcome when they were turned back by the hotel they had booked after they could not raise a deposit.
Yesterday, an official at the Sports ministry who asked not to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media, told The Standard that the team was booked at the Fomo Lodge in Cape Town.
“As far as I know, the money for accommodation amounting to Sh1,449,760 was approved and disbursed on Tuesday and received by the hotel yesterday,” he added. The officer denied reports that the team was stranded, saying there was a Sports officer who had accompanied them. “We would have been told of any difficulties,” he said but refused to divulge the name of the officer.
It emerged yesterday that six federations – Football Kenya Federation, Kenya Rugby Union, Kenya Hockey Union, Kenya Basketball Federation, Athletics Kenya and Kenya Table Tennis Association – have petitioned the Parliamentary Sports Committee to compel the Ministry of Sports to fund them.
“We, the undersigned federations, wish to inform your good office of our continuous frustrations in acquiring Government funding for our national teams through the recently established National Sports Fund,” reads part of the signed statement.
“We are exceedingly concerned by the lack of feedback to our correspondences by the Fund Administrator and Principal Secretary for Sports Ambassador Peter Kaberia, this despite His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pronouncement that all national teams will be supported by the government.”