Why have we left our teams to beg ahead of global championships?

The national men basketball team Morans training at Nyayo stadium on November 12, 2020 ahead of the upcoming Afrobasket qualifiers set to take place in Kigali, Rwanda from 25th to 29th November 2020. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

A dark cloud is hanging over local sports with cases of financial instability which has made it difficult to honour international competitions.

It is not a good sign considering Kenya is preparing for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in addition to future World Championship tournaments cutting across athletics, boxing, basketball, volleyball, taekwondo and many more.

On Thursday, the national men’s basketball team, Kenya Morans, became the latest entry into the growing list of teams struggling to honour crucial international assignment.

Morans were scheduled to play DR Congo yesterday in the Fiba Basketball World Cup qualifiers in Alexandria, Egypt before facing the hosts today and Senegal tomorrow in return leg matches for the third window of the Fiba Africa Group D qualifiers.

In the first window action in Dakar, Senegal, coach Cliff Owuor’s men lost all their matches against DR Congo 56-66 on February 25, Egypt 105-51 (February 26) and Senegal 100-55 (February 27).

The best three teams from groups A, B, C and D will punch their tickets for the second round.

The first two sides from the two groups of the second round together with the best third-placed team will qualify for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Japan and Philippines.

However, by yesterday, Morans had not left the country even after Fiba offered to bail them out.

“We could not find space on Thursday because the planes were full but Fiba intervened. However, we were dialed further to Friday (yesterday) because Egyptian visas were needed and we did not have them. We were promised to get them when we land in Egypt but officials at the airport demanded visas first,” Kenya Basketball Federation Secretary General Ambrose Kisoi said.

Kisoi later confirmed the first batch was due to leave last night.

Two weeks ago, financial woes threatened to derail the women’s national team’s preparation for the World Championships.

In April, the KVF submitted a budget of Sh46 million to the Sports Ministry for the national women’s volleyball team’s trip to Brazil for a two-month training camp.

The government was non-committal about providing funds for air tickets, Covid-19 tests and allowances.

It took the intervention of sports betting firm Mozzart Bet to salvage Malkia Strikers’ trip to Brazil through a Sh10 million sponsorship deal.

The same happened four-days ago when Teita Sisal Estates through The Hildana Lodge came to the rescue of Kenya Simbas with Sh10 million sponsorship ahead of the 2023 World Cup qualifiers today in France.

A letter was circulated on June 22 showing the government was unable to fund its national teams.

This is despite the requirement by law for the government to fund national teams. The stance was confirmed by Joel Atuti, a Director in the Ministry of Sports, via an internal memo.

“The State Department for Sports which has been facilitating various Sports Federations through (Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund) for international events is not in a position to do so.

This is because the Sports Department has exhausted its funding allocations from the SASDF for this financial year,” the statement reads in part.

Our calls and messages to Sports CS Amina Mohamed went unanswered.