By: DAVID KWALIMWA
A photo of two members of the Harambee Stars technical bench sharing out sums of monies next to trench went viral on social media on Monday, prompting harsh responses from the public.
That picture was reportedly taken moments after Stars had received part payments of their for training allowances and air fare refunds that stretched back to July.
Considering these players and technical bench members – including coach Bobby Williamson – had not received these dues for months, it is then, perhaps, understandable that some of them had the hurry to share this loot, notwithstanding the surroundings.
Still, this picture highlights the challenges currently facing Harambee Stars.
Managed by a broke, unreliable and at times incompetent administration and a government that considers sports a by the way, Harambee Stars, easily the most supported team in Kenya, has seen its management deteriorate into a public farce.
In recent times, the team’s training and accommodation environment has resembled a camp hosting inmates.
Stories of players washing their own uniform, residing in hotels around noisy estates, bathing using swimming pool water, lacking adequate drinking water and feeding on rice have become so associated with the Harambee Stars camp that scribes are no longer excited by such narratives.
The situation within the team has however worsened in recent times, prompting Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario to announce that the Government will fully take over the running of this team.
This declaration didn’t seem to change the team’s fortunes considering what has happened this week.
On Monday, Stars players staged one of their now all too common sit-ins demanding to be paid their dues in full before travelling to Cape Verde’s capital Praia for their World Cup return leg qualifier.
When this challenge had been partly done with and the team was ready to depart, it emerged that a bigger problems lie in wait.
Another disagreement involving football officials and the firm owning the chartered flight over payments lasted more than six hours, thus delaying the team’s departure time to Praia by another 10 hours.
Meanwhile, Kenya was expected to churn out results against their better prepared peers from all over the continent.
While covering the African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea and women’s volleyball World Cup in Japan earlier this year, I witnessed first hand how most national teams are well kit, motivated and willing to die wearing the national flag in international tournaments.
The likes of Cote d’Ivoire, Zambia, Nigeria and even Tanzania are important examples.
These teams are paid far better than the paltry daily allowance earned by Harambee Stars players. Preparation for assignments include exclusive training camps at top-rate facilities abroad which double up as motivational occasions.
In Kenya, this seems the exact opposite. Most sporting disciplines need Presidential intervention – as was the case yesterday. How long must this continue?
SOURCE: DAILY NATION