The North American derby between USA and Canada in the final of IRB Sevens Series in Singapore brought into sharp focus Kenya’s failings. Canada, a nondescript side just three seasons ago, replaced Kenya as champions of Singapore by beating USA 26-19. In the two North American rivals were men, who once handled Kenya’s Sevens side. Coach Michael Friday for USA and Strength and Conditioning coach Chris Brown for Canada.
If the men along Ngong Road were honest with themselves, it should have been reported, or at least in private, that they headed straight to the lockers to look at themselves in the mirror. Your hunch is as good as mine. Nothing troubles the Ngong Road aficionados. Never mind that the person at the helm, Richard Omwela, is often touted as a person of integrity and selflessness every time an election comes around.
To many a rugby fan whose heart has known nothing but heartache in the IRB Series this season, integrity and calm counts for little.
Instead, Omwela who has presided over successive KRU boards that have been impervious to rational calls for stability and reasoned transition in coaching department, is fast becoming a symbol of hurt.
Chris Brown now with Canada. Paul Treu now at Western Province. Benjamin Ayimba. Charles Cardovillis. Felix Ochieng. Mitch Ocholla. Mike Shamia (KCB), Paul Murunga (Homeboyz).
Come on KRU. Are all these coaches that poor, such that the Kenyan job is too big for them?
Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu was handed a Herculean task after Ayimba’s acrimonious exit. Those in the know say Simiyu has done well under the circumstances, never mind several unheralded sides have wiped the floor with Shujaa this season.
The irony, which many do not see during banters in pubs, is how educated the rugby people are, most of who attended prestigious colleges in Kenya.
Yet, a simple concept as the importance of proper transition, be it of coaches or players, is rocket science to KRU.
What successive KRU boards have been doing is to set up coaches to fail. For what would one say of Simiyu not having an assistant coach and nothing like a Strength and Conditioning coach?
Poor Simiyu has ended up relying on friends for technical and tactical tips which in the end, without the supporting physical attributes on the players, falls flat before rugby fans.
KRU has perfected the art of putting a sweet deal on the table for coaches only to leave them to hang dry in public.
One coach once related how the KRU board would question coaches’ selections and would be told: “Wewe fanya vile utafanya but tunataka balanced team.” (What do whatever you can to ensure a balanced team.)
Balanced here is to have the board’s preferred players irrespective of the fitness or tactical needs of the team.
Expressing a divergent opinion signals the beginning of the end of such a coach. Friday’s problems started when he questioned certain decisions he felt ran counter to the psyche of the players. He became enemy Number One. He has since found an abode in the USA and results speak for him.
YAM AND KNIFE
Treu, who had a stellar career with Springboks is now doing fine with the Western Province. Well, those are foreigners. At least they have somewhere to call home. For the home boys, theirs to wait for the men who holds the yam and the knife.
A comment perceived to be critical of KRU and you are a marked man. That is why despite the perceived collective intellectual capacity of the rugby family nothing will ever leave the lips of the unhappy.
It is not like ‘ghetto people’ of football. They say it as it is although for them also, there is more wailing than helpful substance.
For instance, have the ghosts of the Rio Olympics been exorcised? Everybody is quiet despite all that went wrong right from the selection of the teams (men and women). The decision to send the team to prepare at Nandi Bears for 40 days was ill-advised. KRU knew very well the facility lacked equipment for the players’ conditioning. Some of the officials at KRU have played the game and they know it was wrong especially with World Rugby having agreed to fund the teams’ camping at Kasarani. But then, there was Sh12 million muttered under the noses of disaffected, but gutless rugby people.
Whatever the case, rugby people must do something to save the game.
And by the way, I have never understood why when Ayimba returns to the team results take upward trend. When he leaves we take a beating. Please me.