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Women’s hockey team off to World League series

The national women’s hockey team jetted out of the country on Saturday morning for the World League two series in Montevideo, Uruguay.

The travelling party of 18 players and 10 officials, including a government representative, jetted out of the country at 5:35 am, aboard an Ethiopian Airline.

They flew to Addis Ababa then to Sao Paolo before picking a connecting flight to Montevideo, a journey of about 22 hours meaning the team will arrive in Uruguay early Sunday morning.

The trip had looked in doubt as of Friday evening as the government had yet to release the Sh 5 million meant to cater for their food, accommodation and allowances.

The team however jetted out without the money which the government assured would be sent to the team before it arrives in Uruguay.

Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) vice chairperson Elynah Shiveka told Nairobi News that Sports Cabinet Secretary Dr Hassan Wario called her personally to inform her about the decision after hours of anguish waiting for the money to be released.

OPTIMISTIC

“At one point I was ready to call the girls and inform them that their government had abandoned them at this time but the Minister gave me his word that the money will be sent and we believe him otherwise we shall be stranded in Uruguay,” Shiveka said.

The team held a light training session on Friday morning at City Park Stadium with coach Jos Openda remaining optimistic the team will turn the challenges into positives and perform well in the event.

“These challenges are usual but we are mentally prepared for everything. The girls can’t wait to take to the pitch and show what they can do. We want to make a mark in the event and move to the next round,” Openda said.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) agreed to reschedule Kenya’s opener against France which was to be played on Saturday at 8pm to Monday night.

The team will now open their campaign against Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday at 1am. On Tuesday the team will play against Azerbaijan in their last Pool B match. Wednesday will be a rest a day before the knock out stages commences on Thursday.

The top two teams will advance to the third round where eight slots will be up for grabs for a place in next year’s Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.