NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 8 – Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) boss Oduor Gangla says the issue surrounding the Kenya Sevens team at the Paris leg of the World Sevens Series in 2018 is water under the bridge and it will not dent the relationship between them and head coach Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu who was re-appointed to the post on Tuesday.
Simiyu was the man in charge of the national team then and the aftermath of the fallout over the stunt engineered his exit.
Shujaa players covered the Brand Kenya logos on the front of their jerseys as they protested non-payment of allowances, drawing the ire of not only fans but the government, including Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala who immediately cancelled the sponsorship.
Simiyu, then the Shujaa boss took full responsibility of the fiasco and was subsequently relieved of his duties in the wake of the earth shattering effects, though the ministry would later rescind the decision.
“It is public knowledge that the past engagement didn’t end well but everyone looks back and we too have looked back at the whole incident and how it was a managed. There has been a lot of lessons taken on both sides to ensure we are able to manage well such challenges in future,” Gangla said on Tuesday as he announced Simiyu’s return to Shujaa.
The tactician too has for the first time spoken publicly about the issue that brought an end to his otherwise successful stint at the helm of the national team.
Simiyu has tendered his apology and is optimistic such will not recur in future.
“Paris was a very big scar but of course we had to apologise for what happened. It was not the best way to air our grievances and I took responsibility about it as the head coach. I believe the only way to make sure it doesn’t happen again is proper communication and from my end moving forward, how we communicate is very important,” the tactician stated.
The same had risen up during the interview process and it was the reason that at first, majority of the board went with Dennis Mwanja for the top spot, before an eventual turnaround saw the former coach walk back.
Simiyu takes over the job after the exit of New Zealander Paul Feeney who left the job barely a year in at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He has his work cut out especially with the Olympics beckoning and most tournaments having been cancelled due to the pandemic.
“I know it is a big task and the challenges are there. There are not enough tournaments leading to the Olympics but the key thing now is how do we get the players ready. If we get them to at least 80pc by January, then we will be good for the Olympics,” stated the tactician.
He now hopes that the Kenya Rugby Union can organize for a few tournaments locally and probably internationally to help the players pick fitness after five months of inactivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Union boss Gangla says they have already submitted their return-to-play protocols to the Ministry of Sports and are waiting for the final go ahead to resume work on the pitch. Gangla also added that the immediate priority for a return to training program will be for the national teams.