SWILA: Kaberia, Mwendwa fight uncalled for, national interest should prevail

Two senior football stakeholders – Sports Principal Secretary Ambassador Kirimi Kiberia and Football Kenya Federation (FKF) chief Nick Mwendwa are at war.

So fierce is the battle that the duo is not in talking terms. The bone of contention is the Ministry’s failure to release funds to the federation to cater for the preparations of the national women football team, Harambee Starlets ahead of an Olympic qualifier against Zambia set for Sunday in Lusaka.

So irked was Mwendwa that when he called for a press briefing last week, he made his feelings known launching scathing criticism of the PS.

According to Mwendwa, the federation had written several requests to the ministry requesting for funding but the latter had been quiet on the matter with no response forthcoming.

This, according to Mwendwa, had left them with no option but to halt preparations of the team ahead of a decisive assignment before Sports CS Amina Mohamed quickly intervened.

Should the Starlets beat the Zambians on aggregate in the two legs they’ll qualify for next year’s Olympics set for Japan – a first for the team.

The team is so close to qualifying for the global multi-sport event and what is needed is proper preparations and a tranquil environment devoid of ruckus and in fights currently rocking the team.

The girls, according to Mwendwa, have been ill-treated will allowances dating back to last year yet to be paid despite their splendid performance on the international arena.

Kiberia on the other hand has shown FKF and its chief the contempt card intimating that the Government has offered the federation the utmost support – better than any other federation – with the lion’s share of the Sports Fund having been allocated to the national men football team, Harambee Stars in this calendar year.

Flashback to June, in the run-up to this year’s Africa Cup of Nations finals held in Egypt, the Stars under the leadership of former head coach French man Sebastien Migne went to a boot camp in France with the government pumping in Sh240 million to cover their preparation costs.

Kiberia as such feels that the FKF leadership should give an accountability of how these funds were used and other monies received from other parties such as Fifa and the federation’s partners such as Betin who have since called the plug on its sponsorship.

While these calls are in order, it should be made in good faith and the federation, as Mwendwa has alluded to, should be open to allow for the scrutiny of its books.

Laying bare all the funds received in the last one year and how they were used would go a long way in calming the nerves of football stakeholders while also giving the federation a clean bill of health.

The National Sports Fund established through the enactment of the Sports Act 2013 aimed at providing cure to the age long financial malaise that has hitherto dominated the sports sector and it’s a shame that six years since its enactment, national teams are still struggling to raise funds, kitting remains a challenge, paying allowances has become an uphill task making the attainment of the national goals a mirage.

In fact, in its mission, the National Sports Funds argues that their goal is to “provide sufficient funding to sports agencies necessary for the diversification, enhancement of excellent performances, and development of infrastructure in the sports industry.”

Looked at deeply, most of the goals have not been attained and it’s disturbing to see a federation chief and a PS, who in this case is the Chief Accounting Officer play games on matters of national interest.

The two gentlemen’s fight should be solely driven by the national goal and not informed by egos.

In the same vein, Sports CS Amina Mohamed must quickly step in to restore order failure to which President Uhuru Kenyatta should wield the big stick.

Kenya is a respected sports nation on the global scene and we must not allow individuals entrusted with national dockets drive us down the drain.

The national women volleyball team, Malkia Strikers, Harambee Starlets, and even the national women rugby team – the Lionesses – are all important just like their men counterparts and support for them should be unequivocal.

-The author is the RMS Radio & Digital Sports Editor

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