Sevens rugby teams first beneficiaries of Sh10 million Kenya Charity Sweepstake training sponsorship package

Kenya's Team Shujaa against Portugal during Safari Sevens at RFUEA grounds. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The Kenya sevens rugby teams, Shujaa and Lionesses are the first beneficiaries of the ten million shillings training sponsorship package from the Kenya Charity Sweepstake to the Kenya Olympic athletes heading to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games.

In January of 2021, Kenya Charity Sweepstake extended their sponsorship to the National Olympic Committee by giving 10 million shillings for preparations and also launching the Paris 2024 fundraising where they will give ten percent of every ticket purchased to go towards Kenya’s Olympic preparations.

The deal between Kenya Charity Sweepstakes and the National Olympic Committee of Kenya will run for five years. It is not just for Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Japan, but also for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games in France.

“We have been saying we need to get our athletes training. The money availed has been the direct scholarship for individual athletes’ training. In terms of team Kenya we were still looking for money and therefore what this does (sponsorship from Kenya Charity Sweepstake) is that we can be able to plan immediately to get our teams to start training, especially the team sports. If you look at rugby and volleyball, it has been a struggle to get the players together and to get a venue that is COVID-19 compliant as per the guidelines of the ministry of sports and health. So 10 million goes immediately into the work of preparing our teams for Tokyo 2020,” said NOC-K acting secretary, Francis Mutuku.

The rugby sevens teams are in training after qualifying for the games in 2020. The two teams will be making an appearance at the games for the second consecutive time after the maiden appearance at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro in Brazil. 

The National Olympic Committee of Kenya has given the Kenya sevens teams for both men and women Sh2,845, 296 as they prepare to leave the country for Spain for a three weeks training camp. The teams will also play in two tournaments while in Spain.

Kenya Lioness fly half Grace Adhiambo in action during a past match. [Washington Onyango,Standard]

“We have always struggled in preparation for major games because of funding. It is important to have funds for training, equipment and allowances for players. This support from Kenya Charity Sweepstake is a timely boost. We are now motivated knowing that we can train and prepare well for the Olympics,” said Kenya Women Sevens team captain Philadelphia Olando.

The Kenya Rugby Union will name the teams to travel to Spain on Friday 5th February 2021. This is the first time that the rugby teams will compete since the coronavirus pandemic started in March of 2020. The Spain training camp and tournament has been organized by the Spain Rugby Federation and supported by World Rugby. It is the first of a series of camps and tournaments that the teams will be involved in before the Olympic games In July/August 2021.

“For us as Kenya Charity Sweepstake, we want to see Kenya win more medals at the Olympic games. And this can only be done with good preparation. Kenyans have supported Kenya Charity Sweepstakes for 50 years, and because they also love sports, we decided to support the athletes going for Olympics to bring more joy to Kenyans,” added Yaron Farachi, the Kenya Charity Sweepstake Chief Executive Officer.

The training camp and tournament in Spain are important especially to the Lionesses who have lacked match practice over the years despite training hard for long.

“This tournament is for the teams that have qualified for the Olympics. It is a good outing for us because we will be able to gauge ourselves to know how ready we are at the end of the tournament,” said Lionesses vice-captain Sheila Chajira.

According to the Lionesses team manager Camilyne Oyuayo, the teams will be in a bubble in Spain, meaning they will have no contact with anyone outside the tournament. That is why the tournament will be played throughout two weekends, observing the strict Covid-19 protocols. This will also give the teams adequate time to train in between the two weekends of action.

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