NAIROBI, Kenya, June 27- As she spent her last minutes at her Nairobi Women’s Hospital bed before she was discharged, Philadelphia Olando still wondering how the sport she loves almost ended her life.
As a member of the national women’s 15 a-side squad, the Mwamba RFC player still bore the ugly scars of the savage beating she got in Kampala last weekend at the hands of assailants suspected to belong to the Ugandan team after they were apparently enraged by their Elgon Cup defeat to the Kenyans.
Capital Sport caught up with her on Thursday afternoon but when word reached Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) officials of our presence, she was immediately barred from speaking to the media who insist, ‘investigations are going on to the matter.’
“I cannot say anything to you, the Union is handling this matter,” she stated after being shown communication from a director at the Union.
Fearing for repercussions on her playing future, Olando opted to obey the directive, with the Union releasing a statement immediately afterwards explaining their position on the incident that comes a year after Kenya lost her captain Abedeen Shikhoyi in the same nation during an Elgon Cup clash.
One part of the Union’s statement caught the eye, “We do request that her privacy be respected,” while evidently, she was very much willing to pour her heart out on the events that transpired during the attack moments before she received the gagging order.
“At the time, the most important thing was to attend to her welfare and we flew her immediately and checked her to hospital. Apart from the injuries she suffered during her ordeal, she was severely traumatised.
“She could not remember exactly who attacked her since she said it was from behind and doctors advised us to give her time so that she can recall exactly what happened. Our chairman and his Ugandan counterpart have been investigating this matter and when we establish the facts, we shall release a comprehensive statement,” Paula Lanco, the Director of Women’s rugby at KRU explained the gag-order.
However, there is growing dissent on how the deep-rivalry between the two neighbours on the pitch is spiralling out of control, with the injured player alluding to it although not on record.
“This is going to go too far and something needs to be done about it. In my opinion, we should not play matches against Uganda until this issue is resolved. Last year we lost our captain, this year we almost lost another player.
“The Union needs to safeguard our players because the girls have hugely been affected by what happened in Kampala,” Mike Shamiah, the Strength and Conditioning coach for the side told Capital Sport.
Shamiah broke ranks with the Union’s red-tape to rend his voice on a grave issue the authorities are determined to sweep under the carpet and he is not sure he will be retained in his job for speaking to the media.
According to reports, Olando was attacked outside the field and left with a broken nose, a swollen shut eye and other nasty injuries not to mention the mental trauma that could take longer to heal than the projected three months of action she will miss on the field.
She was discharged from hospital on Thursday afternoon to continue recuperating at home as investigations continue.
We await the report.
For now, here’s KRU’s statement on the incident reproduced in full
Nairobi, Thursday 27 June 2013
The Kenya Rugby Union confirms that an incident away from the field of play took place in Kampala on Saturday 22 June 2013 involving a player from the Kenya Lionesses and other individuals.
With the key priority being to ensure the player’s safety and well being, she was airlifted to Nairobi and admitted at the Nairobi Women’s Hospital on Sunday 23 June and has responded well to treatment and since been discharged to go home.
The union would like to ensure the public that this matter is being addressed with the seriousness it deserves and due action will be taken once investigations by both the Kenya and Uganda Rugby Unions are completed. We do request that her privacy be respected.
Released by KRU Media & Communications