Nairobi News

General

State has let down our sports people

Even as we celebrate 50 years of independence, we must as a nation bury our heads in shame, given the embarrassing situation facing our national amputees’ football team.

Just when the Amputee Football Federation of Africa thought it had honoured Kenya by granting Nairobi the rights to host the fourth Africa Cup of Nations to coincide with our Golden Jubilee celebrations, the government has shamed our amputee athletes by refusing to help pay for their upkeep during the tournament.

Signs that the government lacked the will to sponsor our national teams were evident months ago when it rejected requests from the Kenya Federation of Amputee Football to provide any funding.

As the event fast approached, the government attempted to talk the federation into calling off the tournament altogether, a decision which would have put Kenya on collision course with the pan African organisation.

At some point, the government told the local federation that it was free to proceed with the tournament so long as it got its own sponsors.

As we write this, our athletes have been turned into the tournament’s laughing stock, constantly harassed by the hotel which is hosting them due to their inability to pay their bills.

We must commend the few well-wishers who have come to the team’s aid, including Governor Evans Kidero and the MM Bus firm which is meeting transport costs.

But donations that have come so far are just a drop in the ocean, too little to offset the Sh3.5 million deficit.

This is not the first time the government has abandoned the federation in its hour of need.

Only two years ago, the federation was forced to pull out of the Africa Cup of Nations at the last minute for the very same reason — lack of funding.

As this is happening, national teams taking part in the tournament have also been subjected to similar embarrassment, including being locked out of their hotels or detained because the local federation has no funds.

It is high time the government took sport more seriously and spared us these embarrassments.

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