Rugby Sevens heroes yet to receive Sh10m Uhuru pledge
The national rugby sevens team is yet to receive the Sh10 million promised by President Uhuru Kenyatta a fortnight ago.
President Kenyatta made the pledge when the team visited him at State House, Nairobi on April 21, three days after defeating powerhouses Fiji to win the Singapore Sevens tournament in the HSBC Sevens World Series last month.
During the visit, and after an exchange of pleasantries and even a mock line out session that included their host, the side, christened Shujaa, left the house on the hill all smiles after President Kenyatta – a former rugby player from his days at St Mary’s High School – promised them Sh10 million for their efforts.
“That Sunday was a good day for millions of Kenyans who were watching the game, not only in Kenya but also other Kenyans living in other countries,” the Head of State said at the time in reference to the team’s performance in Singapore.
There was icing on the cake for the financially struggling side when Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko pledged an additional Sh2 million, while sponsors Kenya Airways undertook to pay each squad member Sh100,000 as winning bonuses.
But exactly 18 days later, none of the pledges has been honoured. The national women football team, Harambee Starlets, has, however, received the Sh2 million pledge from President Kenyatta.
Nairobi News reached President Kenyatta’s spokesman Manoah Esipisu but he had not responded by press time.
The team visited State House last month, days after clinching qualification to the women’s Africa Cup of Nation set for Yaoundé, Cameroon this November, after defeating Algeria.
“We haven’t heard from State House or anyone on this matter, which is really frustrating,” a senior player of the team, who declined to be named for fear of victimization, told Nairobi News.
The Benjamin Ayimba-coached team is set to jet out of the country for Europe this weekend, where it is primed to compete in the Paris and London legs of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
From all indications, the players may just have to fly the national flag in these two tournaments with empty pockets.
Interestingly, separate investigations by Nairobi News established that the national football team players and technical bench have also yet to be paid their camping allowances for the double header games against Guinea Bissau back in March.