NAIROBI, JANUARY 19 – After five months of waiting, the national Sevens team have something to smile after Kenya Airways agreed to title-sponsor the team until the end of the season.
The agreement with Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) sees the national carrier continue being the team’s official shirt sponsor covering salaries, allowances, insurance and bonuses.
KRU are set to meet the team to discus contract terms which the Union CEO, Ronald Bukusi, said will either be done before it departs for the third round of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Wellington Sevens or after they return from the fourth leg in Sydney.
“Player’s welfare has been our greatest concern and its probably the reason why it has taken a while to sort this matter. It’s not easy to look for sponsors and we have done our best.
“We have been communicating with the team to update them on every step on the negotiations. It’s not true to say players have not been paid allowances because we have done our best and paid them some money,” Bukusi announced on Tuesday when the team to Wellington and Sydney 7s was named.
The players have had no contracts since last September but that did not impede them when they won the Africa Rio 2016 Olympics qualifiers before opening their World Sevens Circuit in Dubai and Cape Town 7s in South Africa where they roared to fourth.
The union is in discussions for a shorts sponsor to cater for other expenses not covered under the revised agreement with the airliner.
Meanwhile, Ayimba has moved to defend his decision to leave out Africa Olympics qualifiers hero; winger Dennis Ombachi in his 12-man travelling squad that will do duty in Wellington and Sydney legs on the weekend of January 30-31 and February 6-7.
The head coach who handed Nakuru RFC’s Donald Oluoch his debut; revealed Ombachi who missed Cape Town round to graduate from college, was not fit to for the tour.
“The team that has been named is the best and the fittest that we could get from the pack. Ombachi had some commitments after the qualifiers, so there are people in the squad who have trained more than him and are looking fitter.
“We have that chance to expose one young player, it is Donald’s (Oluoch) time, he has shown a lot of potential,” Ayimba described.
Skipper Andrew Amonde returns to the squad while veteran and former captain, Humphrey Kayange makes a comeback to the team for the first time this season.
“Of course maturity is very good for us. Andrew and Humphrey lead from the front. They understand the game very well and we are looking to boost a lot of what we did in the past two tournaments in Dubai and Cape Town,” the coach added.
Kenya are drawn in a relatively fair Pool D for the Wellington tour with Australia, Canada and Portugal but Ayimba called on his charges not to underestimate any team.
“It is a very tricky group. If you look at how the Australians and Canadian play, they bring everything to the field and that is going to be a huge challenge. We also don’t take Portugal lightly because they’ve not being playing well and this could just be the tournament where they raise their game. It will be very important for us to be focused on the park.”
The team departs for New Zealand on Sunday.
Wellington and Sydney squad
Andrew Amonde (KCB, Captain), Collins Injera (Mwamba, Vice-Captain), Oscar Ouma (Top Fry Nakuru), Humphrey Kayange (Mwamba), Nelson Oyoo (Top Fry Nakuru), Biko Adema (Nondescripts), William Ambaka (Kenya Harlequin), Oscar Ayodi (Menengai Cream Homeboyz), Eden Agero (Kenya Harlequin), Billy Odhiambo (Pan Africa Strathmore Leos), Bush Mwale (Menengai Cream Homeboyz), Donald Aluoch (Top Fry Nakuru) Non-travelling reserves: Robert Aringo (Resolution Impala Saracens), Leonard Mugaisi (Menengai Cream Homeboyz), Alvin Otieno (Menengai Cream Homeboyz)