Bodies call for more help as they prepare for international events
Sports federations yesterday turned the heat of the Ministry of Sports for failing to fund international teams, placing their participation in key tournaments in jeopardy.
The federations singled out Sports Principal Secretary Peter Kaberia, who they accused of frustrating their efforts to access the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund, which would help them honour their sporting obligations.
The accusations against the PS and his ministry came even as the Sports Committee of the National Assembly was informed that the country was at the risk of facing serious sanctions, including a ban, from world football governing body (Fifa), if its international teams failed to honour two crucial qualifying matches.
Football Federation of Kenya (FKF) President Nick Mwendwa warned that the country is staring at a ban if the men and women football teams fail to take part in their planned fixtures, scheduled for this weekend and the next week.
The women football team, Harambee Starlets, are slated to play Zambia on Friday in the penultimate 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifiers while their male counterparts, Harambee Stars, are scheduled to take on Egypt in Cairo on Friday next week, in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
“If we don’t participate in the two matches, there is the real risk of Kenya being sanctioned by Fifa and consequently prevented from participating in the 2024 Olympics and the even the 2023 Afcon games,” Mwendwa told the committee.
Mwendwa, however, told the committee chaired by Machakos MP Victor Munyaka that the two matches hanged in the balance for lack of funds.
It also emerged that the national rugby team, Shujaa, which is expected to leave the country today to participate in an Olympics qualifier, faces uncertainties in making their trip, again, as they face financial challenges.
Mwendwa was among leaders of four federations, who appeared before the parliamentary committee seeking the support of the House to have access to timely funding for them to honour their fixtures.
They blamed the PS, accusing him of frustrating the federations from accessing the Fund.
Others who presented their case were Kenya Rugby Union (KRU), Kenya Hockey Union, Athletics Kenya, and the Kenya Table Tennis Association.
The federations complained that even though they submit their annual calendar of events and apply for the funds on time, their proposals are ignored as they do not receive responses from the PS, while in extreme cases, they do not receive any funding.
The FKF boss said Kaberia, who is supposed to approve the withdrawals from the Fund as the Administrator of the kitty, often declines to do so, throwing the federations into uncertainties.
“There is neither funding nor communication on our application. The problem is occasioned by the PS who doesn’t want to do his job. He has the capacity, but simply doesn’t want to do it,” Mwendwa said as he revealed FKF requires Sh95 million to enable Harambee Stars to participate in the 2021 Afcon qualifiers while the total budget for Starlets to participate in the Olympic qualifiers is Sh117 million.
On their part, Athletics Kenya (AK) said they were seeking Sh91 million to prepare the national under-20 athletics team to participate in the 2020 World Athletics Championships, which will be hosted at Kasarani Stadium.
AK vice President Peter Mutwii told the committee that the money was to take care of the budget for the 12 camps that will host local junior athletes as they prepare for the championships.
“We can confirm that we have never received a penny from the Fund yet we are expected to prepare the team. It will be bad if we don’t prepare well yet we are the host and Kenyans will be expecting us to give a good show,” Mutwii said.
Mutwii also revealed that they had never received the Sh17 million the team claimed for the Doha World Athletics championship preparations.
Thomas Opiyo, who represented KRU said his federation has never been told why their application for fundings have been ignored.
The KRU boss said they had to desperately watch as their assets were auctioned last week over debts, despite their plea to the Ministry to bail them out.
He revealed that they have Sh194 million deficit in running the affairs of the federation, which includes flying the national team to South Africa for an Olympics qualifier.
“We are always in the dark on why the Ministry never responds to our application. Nobody speaks to us over the matter,” he said.
He complained the Ministry has become a micromanager of the Fund instead of focusing on policy work.
“Why should the fund have a CEO who can’t give out money.”
“We are asking that the CEO be given powers so that the only thing the Ministry will be left with, are the issues of policy,” he said.
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