‘We suffered’ – troubled Kenyan netball team

The Kenyan women’s netball team was allegedly ‘held hostage’ South Africa until Wednesday night when the Ministry of Sports wired funds to clear hotel bills amounting close to Sh1.5m, Citizen Digital has learned. The plight of the team was highlighted on social media and was greeted with outrage directed at the Government before conflicting reports emerged Thursday morning claiming it was all rosy at the Kenyan camp. Officials in charge of the team that has been in Cape Town since October 15 rebuffed requests for media interviews and suggested they were ordered to steer clear of the matter under the instruction of the Sports Ministry. But a senior player in the squad who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, admitted the team was held in custody on the final day of the 2019 Africa Netball Championship owing unpaid hotel bills. The team went to the courts straight from the airport after arriving to honour their opening fixture, highlighting the inept planning of their trip. “We have gone through hell because it’s true we were bailed out by a Cameroonian well-wisher who bought us milk and bread, and offered alternative accommodation because our government had promised to pay our accommodation once a pro forma invoice was sent back to Nairobi,” she told Citizen Digital from South Africa. While appearing before the National Assembly’s Sports Committee on Thursday, Sports CS Amina Mohammed dismissed the claims. “Anything in the mainstream media should not be considered as gospel truth,” she said. The team christened as the Divas, managed only one win against Lesotho-the first win after 16 years. Head coach Joseph Makau was quick to refute the claims and opted to instead discuss his team’s performance when pressed for comment. “We picked our first win after many years and that’s what is important. Whatever is going round on social media is untrue,” he said. The team is scheduled to leave Cape Town on Thursday 2:30pm and touch down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 10pm. The Divas’ plight comes barely a month after Malkia Strikers players who were competing at the FIVB World Cup in Japan made their displeasure known by ‘summoning’ the then Team Manager Ismael Chege to demand their unpaid allowances for the African Games, Intercontinental and World Cup championships. Sports Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia is on record promising that complaints about delayed or unpaid allowances by all national teams representing the country in the international events will be a thing of the past as the government had put changes that would assure prompt payments. Kaberia said all athletes would be getting their allowances 14 days before any competitions but contrary to that, the netball players left the country with empty bank accounts.

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