Frustrated Mwendwa calls out Sports PS on national team funding woes

Two Kenya national teams, Harambee Stars and Harambee Starlets risk missing upcoming international assignments as occasioned by a lack of funding from the national government through the Ministry of Sports, the Arts and Culture, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President Nick Mwendwa has revealed.

In a session with the media, at a Nairobi hotel on Tuesday 29 October, Mwendwa cut a frustrated figure as he revealed that the Federation has sunk into debt in way of funding the two teams’ activities, which by law should be a responsibility of the government.

Written to the sports fund

Mwendwa revealed that for a whole 12 months now, the federation has written missive upon missive to the ministry requesting funding from the Sports Fund but despite going on to make follow up, they haven’t received any response, not even negative.

Mwendwa singled out Sports Permanent Secretary Peter Kaberia as the person behind the federation’s financial woes, accusing him of turning a deaf ear and a blind eye on all matters funding for the national teams.

Call off training

As a result, he said the federation has been forced to call off Harambee Starlets training ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games qualifier against Zambia which comes up in the second week of October.

“Since 2018 October, we have been waiting for funding from the ministry, through the Sports Fund, which is lawfully meant for sports in this country but we have not gotten any particular response from the Permanent Secretary.

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“Harambee Starlets was supposed to report to training today, but we have been forced to call it off because we owe these girls a lot and we know they have families to cater for as well. We thought we could have non residential training but then only eight girls in the team come from Nairobi. The government has simply refused to pay Starlets and we want to know what problem does the PS have with football.

No communication from the PS

“It is really frustrating because we have fully complied with the requirements but the PS is not telling us anything. At the moment we are operating on credit because we decided that all the football activities will go an nonetheless,” he noted.

With the men’s team set to start the 2021 AFCON qualifiers in October, Mwendwa also revealed that the trip to Cairo for the first match on October 10 stands in jeopardy should the ministry fail to remit funds to facilitate it.

He noted that the federation made follow up for up to four times with no response from the ministry. All this is in spite of having accounted for all monies received from the ministry for the 2019 AFCON finals.

“By end of July we had accounted for every shilling received from the government and spent during AFCON. We have no problem with the PS, or the fact that we have a fund to manage the financing of federations. The main issue we have is the lack of communication and the way this fund is managed,” he noted.

Waiting for funds to be released

For the moment, it remains a waiting game on when, if at all, the ministry will release the funds. Mwendwa hinted that at least the home match against Zambia could be played but sounded the alarm for the away match, which puts in jeopardy Harambee Starlets’ chances of a first ever appearance at the Olympic Games.