NAIROBI, October 2- Kenya 7s head coach, Benjamin Ayimba has moved to draw a line on controversy surrounding his appointment by insisting he is the right man to lead the team back to the top of the international game.
Ayimba, who presided over the emergence of Kenya as a force in the World Rugby circuit besides leading the side to a historic Sevens World Cup semi final during the 2009 edition in Dubai during his first spell from 2006 to 2011, was hired back last month.
However, a section of Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) board members protested against his re-appointment citing the process did not follow proper procedure before he was reportedly downgraded to an interim coach last week.
Speaking at Capital in the Morning radio show on Friday- on the eve of his first assignment since his return at the annual Safari 7s international invitational- Ayimba fired back at his critics calling on everyone to focus on reviving Kenya’s flagging fortunes.
“They are two types of coaches, there are the coaches that say and you do, and there are those that ask the player to do what the best is to give them guidelines, I’m the kind of coach who is very player eccentric,”
“Given the culture we have in Kenya, players want to be treated humanely in a way they understand since we are semi professional. I understand that very well since that’s where I grew up,” Ayimba asserted.
The former international paid homage to his successor, Englishman Mike Friday who led the team to a second Rugby Sevens World Cup semi final in 2013 besides their highest ever finish in the World Series, fifth, in the same season.
“Friday got into their minds and became them. That’s why he is a good coach. He’s a coach who first understands the culture and brings players close to him. That is why they play for him. It’s a huge gamble sometimes since you have to look at the sort of coach you pick for your players,” he admitted.
Ayimba urged Union bosses to give local bred tacticians a chance in managing national sides since they were also competent for the job citing how he was shunted out of the position when Mwangi Muthee took over at the helm of KRU.
“Alongside a Kenyan management team, I got our team to the highest of highs and that was thrown out of the window. The reason why this is case, I don’t know whether it is a Kenyan or African thing, we are not taught to be confident of ourselves.
“When you are confident, people assume you are arrogance. When you speak your mind, it is misconstrued to be arrogance. Most of the time, it is what they would not want to hear and it is a culture they have been put through and a culmination of what they have learnt,” he regretted.
“In any team, players stand out more than others, you can’t shy away from those who can lead and play better, all we are trying to do is get the really good ones to try and bring up the younger ones who are trying to get to that position, once we get that fibre right then we should be okay,” Ayimba told on his plans for selecting the team that will vie for Olympics qualification at the forthcoming qualifiers in South Africa next month.
Speaking on the subject, former KRU director and Safari 7s tournament director, Godwin Karuga advised the governing body to cease the wrangles that have affected the team’s management as well as sponsorship of the sport.
“It’s unfortunate we had to get to that. I would want a situation where we were all enjoying the game. As a Union, as a game, we owe it ourselves to govern ourselves in the correct way,” he added while backing Ayimba to succeed.
Kenya will also have the opportunity to face off against Olympic qualifier competitors Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Uganda during the Safari 7s where 14 visiting teams are taking part.
The Main tournament kicks off at 11am on Saturday at Safaricom Stadium, Kasarani with a curtain-raising veterans event scheduled for Friday evening in Nairobi’s Impala Grounds along Ngong Road.