World Deaf team forced to axe 8 over budget

The Deaf Athletics Association of Kenya (DAAK) on Tuesday dropped eight athletes from the squad travelling to the World Deaf Athletics Championship in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria after a merry go round with the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Arts.

The decision to reduce the travelling contingent from 31 to 23 was reached after the Ministry ordered the association to cut the number and the team’s training camp period to fit into a constricted budget.

DAAK subsequently presented a shorter list with major casualties being athletes participating in disciplines least likely to produce medals with some association’s officials ceding their places to accommodate competitors.

“The association kindly asks the Government to be more vigilant when dealing with such matters in the future because it is very unfortunate that we were forced to leave behind a few athletes who deserved to be there,” said Bernard Banja DAAK, Secretary General.

“We, the DAAK officials, will not be travelling to Bulgaria for the championships as we had to sacrifice our places so that some of the athletes could get the chance to compete at the showpiece.”

In January 2016, the association submitted a proposal and budget to the Ministry which included the training camp, national selection and World Championships expenses that was approved.

Trials for Bulgaria were held in Nairobi on June 2 and 3 where the initial squad and travelling officials were named before the list was forwarded to the Ministry.

With no funding forthcoming, the officials went to the Ministry last Friday where they were directed to the Principal Secretary’s office where they were informed money allocated was not enough and then referred to the Chief Financial Officer John Olinga.

Olinga met them on Monday and informed them that no money had been allocated to cater for the athletes needs during the training camp and the actual championship.

With the trip hanging in the balance, they marched to Cabinet Secretary Dr. Hassan Wario’s office and on Monday where they were turned to his Principal Secretary Richard Ekai (Sports Development).

On Tuesday, Ekai met them in his office before they were handed to Wenslas Ong’ayo, the Director of Administration.

“DAAK officials earlier today (Tuesday) came to my office and we discussed how we are going to fund the association before it’s athletes depart and we arrived at a compromise where we asked them to reduce the number of people travelling to Bulgaria in accordance with the budgetary limitations set by the ministry and we would allocate them the necessary funds,” explained Ong’ayo.

“They returned with a significantly smaller list and we pledged to cater for their expenses throughout the whole Championship including accommodation, air tickets, allowances, Visas and insurance cover.”

Ong’ayo conceded cutting the training camp short could eventually affect performance.

“We have not forgotten the athletes who performed spectacularly in the Deaflympics in 2013. Once the process of clearing the backlog from the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, we will reward each with their dues,” he explained on the Government Reward Scheme for medallists arrears owed to the team.

“The government should also play a part in sensitizing the public on the difference between Deaflympics and Paralympics because it was frustrating trying to constantly explain to people we came across in the Ministry that they are not one and the same thing,” Tom Okiki, DAAK Public Relations Officer added.

The team is expected to depart for Bulgaria between 22nd and 23rd June for the championships that will last from 25th June to 3rd July 2016.

Report by Eric Kagundah

Trending now

    latest stories