The Kenya Rugby 7s players are raising funds to settle their pending bills as a result of delayed salaries.
Willy Ambaka, one of the senior players, has taken to Twitter to share the account details as he pleaded with well-wishers to come to their rescue.
In his tweet, Ambaka says the proceeds from the fundraiser will be divided amongst the team members to offset some of their pending bills.
“Our desperate situation has now forced us to turn to you, our global community to help us in raising funds. The money raised will be split among the boys to help settle some of our pending bills - We need your assistance,” his tweet reads.
The Standard had a phone interview with Ombaka. When asked when last the team got paid he laughed clumsily then said "I can’t recall, it has been a while".
According to Ombaka, the Sevens are preparing to travel to Dubai.
They are scheduled to play against Australia, South Africa and Great Britain. However, not all the players will travel for the competition.
“Next week, we play in Dubai against Australia, South Africa and Great Britain. Some of us will not go. We are entitled to travel allowances, but we have not received any as we speak. We have been told out rightly that we will not be given the allowances,” Ombaka says.
“The reason why we face this problem has always been one, we don’t have a sponsor. But is that the players’ work to look for sponsors? There are people in boards who are mandated to get sponsors,” he adds.
For now, Ombaka says the team survives on support from wellwishers.
A source close to Rugby Sevens management has attributed the delayed salaries to Kenya Airways making losses. The airline pulled out of its sponsorship contract with the Kenya Rugby Union in 2016.
KQ’s deal to sponsor the Kenya Sevens team ended in November but was not renewed.
“The players have not received a salary for three months. It is because the team lost its sponsor when Kenya Airways terminated the contract,” the source who sought anonymity says.
According to him, the team is staring at possible relegation this season should they lose the next two leagues.
Kevin Wambua, the Sevens’ assistant coach says it is hard to motivate players for training. He adds that if not solved, the issue of delayed salaries could affect the players mentally and in turn affect the game.
“They haven’t been paid since the world cup. It is tough and draining
The delay affects all of us, including the head coach. We were hoping to get something before we travel but it seems we might have to travel before any resolutions are made,”
“How can you tell someone to go play abroad without money and they have not even paid rent?”
The team departs for Dubai Sevens competition tonight.
Efforts to reach Sports CS Ababu Namwamba for a comment were futile. He did not pick our calls.