NAIROBI, Kenya, May 9 – The Kenya Rugby Union is set to receive Sh50mn from the Sports Ministry in the next three weeks to aid in national team preparations ahead of important assignments, top of it the impending Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifiers.
According to KRU Vice Chair Thomas Opiyo, the money is set to be received in the next ‘two to three weeks’ and will cater for Shujaa’s campaign in the remainder of the World Sevens Series, Chipu’s preparations and participation at the World Junior Trophy in Brazil, The Simbas test matches this year as well as the Olympic qualifiers for both men and women.
“We had a meeting and we presented what we required and she (CS Amina) asked what our needs were and what was urgent. We put in a budget of roughly Sh50mn, filed according to the required template. We are confident they will release the funds soon and that will ease lots of pressure especially now that we have three teams going into serious international engagements,” Opiyo told Capital Sport.
The Union officials met with the Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed a fortnight ago at Kencom House and on Thursday, the CS followed up that meeting by visiting the men’s and women’s sevens teams in training, assuring them of the government’s support.
“The officials came to the ministry and we had some really serious discussions. They made a strong case for all of you and raised a lot of issues. We have already started considering some of the issues and we want to make sure the challenges Shujaa face are not recurrent; as we move forward this becomes things of the past,” Amina said as she addressed the team at the RFUEA Ground.
The KRU has been operating on the red and has admittedly found it tough to fund national team activities this year especially after the withdrawal of sponsors.
That ended up in a crisis for the national sevens team with most senior players withdrawing from the team after the Union revised their contracts downwards and this was not acceptable to most of the players.
That ended up affecting the team’s performance and in the long run have found themselves fighting for the relegation in the World Sevens series.
However, even amidst the dark cloud, the silver lining has been the Lionesses winning the African title for the first time ever same as the Under-20 team Chipu who won the Barthes Cup on home soil beating Namibia in an epic finale at the KCB Sports Club.
But, with the finances finally flowing in, KRU will be keen to ensure their flagship brand, Shujaa, remains in the World Series with two rounds of the season left.
CS Amina delivered President Uhuru Kenyatta’s promise that as the team’s patron he will support them to ensure they do not drop out of the series.
“He (Uhuru) conveyed his best wishes, greetings and also conveyed his full confidence in the team. He said he will be watching and following you closely in London and Paris and will be glued to watching how you perform and looking forward to receive you when you come back,” Amina said, conveying the President’s message.
While the Sh50mn perk will cater for the short term needs of the Union, Opiyo said they have already accustomed themselves to the new requirements put in by the ministry especially in terms of accessing the new Sports Fund.
“We have been made to understand you have to submit your budget for the whole year six months before the start of the financial year. This year we should have submitted in January but now that we weren’t aware of that, the ministry said we will work around that,”
“For the next financial year which starts in July 202, we should be able to submit our budget in January next year in the correct format. We have been assured that as long as everything is done according to procedure, we will access those funds,”
“The moment we access these funds, there won’t be problems with the national teams. That has always been the problem for us because when we had SportPesa, these problems were never there,” Opiyo further stated.
Meanwhile, Amina has asked for accountability from not only the Kenya Rugby Union but also all sports federations to ensure that the fund goes into helping sports people attain their dreams.
“Plans have been put in place to address all the challenges. There is money now in the Sports Fund but we also need to raise funds from corporates because we know that this will not be enough. What you have been missing you will get and of course the expectations will still be there and will be high but I know you can meet those expectations,” Amina further stated in her promise to the teams.
She also expressed optimism that the current teething problems experienced with the actualization of the Sports Fund and once everything is laid out structurally, the cash flow from ministry to federations will be seamless.
“I think we will be relaxing playing rugby and golf because the system will be so seamless and in three days after request you receive your money,” Amina noted.
Meanwhile, Amina says she will be considering a request from the Kenya Lionesses to become their patron.
“We are happy now that we have a woman at the helm of the ministry and we would like you to be part of us and be with us whenever we are travelling,” Lionesses assistant captain Sheila Chajira asked the CS.