Lack of sponsorship killing rugby in Western Kenya
Vihiga Granites RFC chairman Vincent Ababu is worried hundreds of budding rugby stars from the talent-rich Western Kenya region may end up nowhere, with the dwindling sponsorship that he says is killing the nationwide league.
Most of the teams have failed to honour their matches due to lack of funds to cater for basic logistics, a trend that Ababu says is dangerous in the development of the sport.
Vihiga Granites has missed to play two in eight matches, while Mbale RFC has failed to show up for four matches in possible eight.
Webuye Granites have also missed four matches, as well as Siaya RFC and Bungoma RFC in the current campaign of the nationwide league, Western region.
“This is very disturbing. If teams are not playing as it should be then churning out good players from this (Western) region as it has been for long will be soon a forgotten history. Something needs to be done urgently,” Ababu told.
Matayo Mwenesi, who heads Mbale RFC echoed Ababu’s sentiments, challenging county governments within the region to save the collapsing clubs, noting rugby is synonymous with the Western region in the country.
“When you look at the quality of the young players featuring at this level, you see a big potential which you can’t imagine going to waste because of basic funding. Most of the players depend on the game having nothing else to earn from or rather to keep them busy,” lamented Mwenesi.
Jeff Khaoya, Webuye RFC coach underscores the need for stable sponsorship, noting Harambees that his team has been surviving on are not reliable.
“It is about goodwill of the people. When you see you have a challenge you go knocking doors, you don’t just depend on members, you have to find friends of the club. We reached a point where players had to contribute money towards expenses as well as fans.
“This is not a long term solution, it is not sustainable,” said Khaoya, whose financial constraints arose from the dwindling fortunes of Nzoia Sugar company.
Thomas Odundo, the Kenya Rugby Union Director, has conceded funding the sport has been difficult with potential sponsors staying away citing hard economic times.
“We will have to meet at the end of the season and deliberate on the way forward. There are standards that sponsors want met, and we also have to keep working to make the environment better,” said Odundo.