The new coach may be named within one or two weeks to take charge of the national sevens team as they prepare for the Safaricom Sevens slated for 20th to 22nd of September.
Friday finally called it a day Wednesday resigning from the role that saw him take the national team to unprecedented heights.
Friday, who guided the 7’s squad to reach the semi-finals of the recent World Cup, cited dissatisfaction with some directors of the KRU as one of the reason for him to call it quits.
Also resigning was the team’s strength and body conditioning coach Newzelander Chris Brown.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that Friday and Brown could be heading to the USA.
The Englishman, wrote officially jointly with Brown to the KRU chairman, Mwangi Muthee and spelt out detailed reasons as to why he resigned saying that “with heart,” he and “They [Kenya Sevens team] are a fantastic group of players and it has been a privilege for both Chris and me to have worked with them all. They are precious assets that need to be given the support and direction by Kenyan Rugby in order to maximize their potential.”
In regards to the team that he leaves behind after the commendable run, Friday said the team was in the good hands of majority of the KRU board: “With [especially] yourself [Chairman] and Gabi [Gabriel Ouko, Treasurer and Former Director of national squads] involved they are very fortunate.”
Of those Friday deemed not to have pulled together with the aspirations of the country he said:
“The interference from certain individuals have made it impossible for Chris and I to run a professional performance programme. Our view is that they have continually sabotaged and compromised our strategy and planning; this has not been in the best interests of Kenya 7s Rugby.”
Friday said among the contributing factors leading to his decision was, leading up to the Sevens Rugby World Cup, contentious issues and false promises he had to endure throughout the season, “particularly with [a named KRU director] which are well documented.”
He added: “It is clear to me that, throughout the RWC, and subsequently, actions taken by certain individuals in key positions have undermined the squad’s strategy, preparation and ultimately performance. Planning and running a truly professional performance programme is impossible to do with the constant compromises, interference and sabotage that occur.
“I will not outline specifics around the poor professional behavior towards me personally, but clearly this just adds further to my concerns.
“It is a matter of regret and disappointment that we have felt it necessary to take this decision.
“In accordance with my contract under clause 14, I will be exercising my right to terminate my agreement with a one month’s notice. Accordingly, KRU can determine whether they wish me to work the month of August in accordance with the contract, or pay me the equivalent of one month’s honorarium.”
The KRU chairman received Friday’s resignation note while on business trip to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and said his board would react quickly to the circumstances.
“Mike is a thoroughly professional man and his decision is based on a sound argument. In order for the team to achieve all its goals, his program required a total budget of Sh80 million annually and indeed that would have been worth every cent.
“Unfortunately, our total cash sponsorship for the Sevens’ team was Sh40 million annually and in order to close the deficit gap we had to forage for money from other vital programmes.
“However, we had kept our part of the bargain in his contract which still had a long time to run. There is no gainsaying that Mike lifted the country beyond wildest dreams and we shall miss him.”
Friday posted a candid letter of resignation to the KRU chairman and said he was “more than happy to agree to a joint Press statement.
“Out of courtesy I attach a release that Chris and I will be releasing to the Press if the KRU choose not to work jointly with us.”
Consider many progressive suggestions
He also said: “For good governance I have informed the IRB [International Rugby Board] of my decision and the situation.”
As well as looking to find an immediate replacement for Friday, Muthee said the KRU will be paying attention to many progressive suggestions contained in Friday’s resignation letter.
The title sponsors Kenya Airways are finalizing the new 2 year contract which has addressed most of the issues Mike has raised. “We shall be in a healthier financial position to negotiate with a suitable coach to replace Mike. With the promise of our team, we shall not lack top class coaches interested in the job. But, again, finances may dictate the choice,” Muthee said.
Friday said he and Brown provided the planning and season plan for the KRU over the last month and it was now up to the KRU “so that our successors can continue with the journey of Kenya 7s and build on the performance and respect gained from last season.”
The coach also said he believed in a drastic revolutionary method to spur Kenya rugby further and that the KRU chairman was up to the task to maintain the impetus.
“My counsel to you is, either to identify more individuals with your thinking, or find a way to reconfigure the board so that Kenya can continue to evolve and grow as a rugby nation and a commercial business.”
Professional foray in Sri Lanka
Interestingly, Friday said that in terms of the Kenya 7s technical bench evolution, he believed the country had the coaching assets already within the squad [which he singled out] ready and able to take up that mantle with the help of current assistants Felix Ochieng’ and Michael Owino.
Addressing the KRU chairman, Friday concluded: “With your consistent support and autonomy, they [men in the suggested structure] will flourish and Kenya 7s will grow. I genuinely wish you and Gabi [Ouko] good luck.”
Friday and a number of leading Kenya Sevens players were in the news last week when they undertook a tour of Sri Lanka.
In some quarters much was made out of debate that the Kenyan players’ involvement was unauthorized and that Friday had acted unilaterally in recruiting them for various invitational teams.
But the KRU chairman said he supported such engagements.
“Our players have the freedom to pursue professional earnings or education study abroad utilizing their rugby talent; as long as they are not exploited and it does not lead to physical harm, but wherever our talent goes they should always be available for national duty and be good ambassadors for their country Kenya and role models for our young ones.”
Statement from KRU