Shame as Kenya’s hockey clubs withdraw from continental tourney for lack of cash
Desperate times call for desperate measures. No one knows the weight and probably the meaning of this statement more than Kenya’s sports fraternity as the financial crunch, occasioned by en-masse withdrawal of sponsorship by corporates bites hard.
In football, clubs are reeling from the heat occasioned by the exit of gaming firms, while in hockey, there is nothing to smile about either. In fact, the hockey fraternity has been hit below the belt,- where it hurts most.
Figure out this: for the first time in over a decade, Kenya will have no representative in the upcoming Africa Cup for Club Championships set for December 1-10 in Ismailia, Egypt with all the four clubs earmarked to grace the tourney having withdrawn.
The top two teams in the men’s and women’s Premier League earn automatic tickets to represent the country in the continental showpiece held annually.
Blazers, formerly Telkom, are the latest team to pull out of the tournament joining fellow women representatives Strathmore University as well as men’s teams Butali Sugar Warriors and Kenya Police who had withdrawn earlier.
Although clubs have been withdrawing before citing financial constraints, this time round the picture is more grim since no single team including the defending champions Blazers will be taking part in the tournament.
Although it is predominantly a club’s tournament, the government through the Ministry of Sports could not intervene even in a small way to facilitate the teams travel to Egypt and save the country’s image.
Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) president Nashion Randiek confirmed to Citizen Digital that the Union contacted the ministry but nothing was forthcoming. Now they’ll watch helplessly as the teams pull out of the tourney.
On his part, Blazers head coach Jos Openda disclosed that although the club had lost sponsorship earlier this year, they were optimistic of getting support from well-wishers as they sought to defend their title.
The experienced tactician has however called upon corporates to come on board and boost the team ahead of the 2020 season.
The development further dents Kenya hopes of returning as a hockey powerhouse since it denies players the most needed exposure against the continent’s best as Blazers player Terry Juma intimated to Citizen Digital.
“We are emotionally down; we were so prepared to go for the competition and play our hearts out to defend the title but we understand and ask for well-wishers to come on board because we have very good young players with a bright future,” said Juma.
Blazers have won the continental title in the women’s category for a record 10 times.
It was a similar script three weeks ago when Police withdrew from the tournament, also citing lack of funds
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