Rugby Rugby

Ombachi, Ambaka open up on Kenya 7s tribulations

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Kenya Sevens stars Dennis Ombachi and Willy Ambaka in training at a Gym Session on September 5, 2018. PHOTO/APO Group

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 15 – On November 15, 2015, Dennis Ombachi took one of the most historic runs in his rugby career; from close to 70m away, he put on the afterburners, shoved away two markers with his powerful right hand before stepping inside and out to head under the posts to dot down the historic try that sent Kenya to their first ever Olympics.

That try saw Kenya beat Zimbabwe 21-17 at the Bernard Stadium in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, South Africa and book a historic slot at the Rio Olympics in 2016, the first time Rugby Sevens was coming back to the Olympic Games in many decades.

Ombachi, nicknamed The Ghost Worker would ordinarily become a legend in his own right and a massive hero celebrated back home and most likely, his life taking a shift for the better. It was never actually to be.

Dennis Ombachi in action at teh Dubai Sevens. The team lost their second match 48-5 against South Africa. PHOTO/KRU

Not only did he ground the try that took Kenya to Rio, but he did it with the final play and with so much courage from distance that would have otherwise not been possible for a player not afraid to take risks.

Close to four years on, the Nondescript man has taken yet another risk, speaking up on the harsh treatment Kenya Sevens players have gone through in the name of donning the red, Green and Black of the national team jersey and doing the flag proud.

In a series of tweets on Friday evening, Ombachi laid bare the struggle he and his team-mates have been forced to go through as they drip blood and sweat in national colors.

“At no point have I said that I was ashamed to represent my country, playing for Kenya has been my highest honor. I am ashamed at how me and my fellow players have been treated over the years and have still managed to perform while saying nothing,” Ombachi stated as he exposed what the players have been going through.

From being neglected due to injury and the players being forced to accept pay cuts, Ombachi expressed his disgust at the treatment meted on the players and his outcry was supported by team-mate Willy Ambaka.

The two are some of the Kenya 7s senior players who refused to sign new contracts that included performance caps and drastically reduced salaries, a situation that has put Shujaa into a relegation dog fight this season.

“I will be back soon broke as I left having represented Kenya for over 10 years in the world stage, it’s now sinking in how unappreciated we are back home, and no I never wasted my earnings, it’s just enough to survive,” Ombachi who is currently in Russia said.

He was supported by Ambaka who noted; “I mean it’s sad traveling and living in all the 5-star hotels and coming back home to a locked house because you haven’t paid rent, I mean how do you expect results with this kind of environment?”

Kenyans on the interwebs joined in the conversation, voicing their support for the players and asking the Union to do better in managing the national teams.

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