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Cash challenges trap Simbas ahead of Repechage preparations

Simbas Preparations for 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifier in japan has been faced with severe cash crisis ahead of Repechage, the last hurdle for Kenya to make it to the world tournament.

Players forced Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) to source for funds to pay them three-month salaries and allowances.

The union and Kenya Simbas have accused the government of neglect, saying the Sports ministry has given them a cold shoulder since March as the team prepares for Repechage tournament.

KRU’s acting CEO Sylvia Kamau has said the only sponsorship that came through was for Kenya Sevens team and not Kenya Simbas, making the team’s preparations for the 2019 World Cup qualifier a tough affair.

While the team’s head coach Ian Snook and his deputy Murray Roulston have been paid their salaries in advance as per their contracts, the remaining members of the team’s 10-man technical bench are yet to be paid allowances dating back from June.

KRU has contracted 40 players for the months of September, October and November purposely for the World Cup qualifier tournament. Each player is entitled to Sh40,000 a month.

Initially, the players had been getting an allowance of Sh2,000 for each training session attended for five days a week.

Kamau said KRU had presented a budget of Sh60 million to the government for the Repechage qualifier two month ago, which was later scaled down to a bare minimum of Sh36 million but the federation has yet to get any funding from the government. Kamau said the money was meant for paying contracted players and facilitation of camps and friendly matches ahead of Repechage tournament.

The government didn’t fund Kenya Simbas during the Rugby Africa Gold Cup that was used as African qualifier tournament for the 2019 World Cup on June 16 to August 18 this year.

Namibia retained the Gold Cup and qualified for the World Cup but Kenya, which finished second, got a second chance to qualify for the World Cup through the Repechage.

“We are struggling since we have many debts and no sponsors for Kenya Simbas. We have contracted players for three months starting from September and raising that amount of money will not be easy,” said Kamau.

She said the national team assignments can’t be reduced to a KRU affair, pointing out that the government has a responsibility of funding the national team.

“The government is yet to realise that we are facing a World Cup qualifier and we are on the brink of qualifying for the World Cup,” said Kamau, adding that the government ought to have been involved with the team from the first phase of preparations.

“We saw recently the government promise Harambee Stars Sh50 million if they qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. The gesture can only make sense if the government is involved in the team’s preparations,” said Kamau. “You don’t expect your children to pass exams by promising them good gifts when you can’t provide them with learning material.”

Kamau said the government should treat all sporting disciplines equally.

Team manager Wangila Simiyu said its difficult handling a team that is not well remunerated yet the players have sacrificed a lot for the country. “These players give 100 per cent, coming all the way from Western Kenya, Thika and Nakuru to train yet can’t offer them their meagre allowances,” said Wangila.

“Some have been mugged early in the morning as they try to make it to the training starting at 5.30am.”

The Simbas will launch their quest against Canada on November 11 before meeting Hong Kong on November 17. The Simbas will wrap up their campaign against Germany on November 23.

The winner of the round robin competition will secure a ticket to compete against New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Namibia in Pool B of next year’s tournament in Japan

Source: Daily Nation

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