Poor preparations of the national team, lack of funds and haphazard decisions has rocked the Ministry of Sports once again.
Details of this emerged as the Kenya national basketball teams safely arrived in Egypt on Sunday ahead of their the FIBA Afro Basket Zone Five qualifiers which were due to start on Monday.
Sports News Arena learned how the Sports Ministry in ‘normal’ fashion appeared to have played a game similar to roulette with Kenya Basketball Federation when two Kenya players were unceremoniously axed from the squad at the eleventh hour due to fewer allocated tickets.
Kevin Kigotho, a skilled power forward who turns up for United States International University-Africa and Grace Wanjiku (JKL Dolphins, Uganda) were told of their fate this past Saturday night with the team traveling early on Sunday morning.
This whole saga started on Friday last week when the Sports Ministry decided to send word that they had cancelled all the air tickets because they had thought the members of the team had failed to secure visas on time.
Renowned FIBA referee Ambrose Kisoi who was at the forefront of securing their visas stated that they had them ready by Friday.
After the team failed to travel on the scheduled date of Saturday, the Sports Ministry came out with a new directive that only 27 tickets would be available for the team which meant that the squad had to the whittled down.
This transpired even though both the KBF and the ministry had started planning for the trip in September 2016.
All seemed well right up to Friday when the ministry took a u-turn.
An official within KBF shed light on the development and distanced the federation from any wrongdoing by intimating that they were mere pawns in the ministry’s playbook.
“I really sympathize with the situation of the players dropped. I however want to exonerate the KBF from blame. The government provided only 27 tickets for the trip, out of this two referees and a doctor were mandatory to travel. Failure to which would have attracted a fine of US Dollars 9,000 according to the rules,” the official disclosed.
KBF first Vice chairman Hilmi Ali traveled as the head of delegation along with three coaches, two licensed referees and the team doctor. This meant that fewer players had to be considered for the trip.
Twenty players - 10 men and 10 women - made the cut to Egypt.
Kigotho feels frustrated at the turn of events and has raised doubts over honouring future call ups.
“What happened was very unprofessional because I was informed of the decision at 9.30 p.m on Saturday with the team traveling only a few hours. I will think twice next time am called upon. I wish the rest of my teammates the very best as they play,” he told SNA.
Organisers agreed to push back Kenya’s fixtures due to their late arrival as the competition began on Sunday. Kenya men’s team is in Pool A alongside hosts Egypt and South Sudan.
Pool B has Uganda, Somalia and Burundi. The top two in each pool will qualify for the semi-finals.
In the women’s category, Kenya will battle for honours with Uganda, Egypt and Somalia in a round robin format. The women’s team renews their rivalry with neighbours Uganda in their first match at 10.15 p.m. with the men’s team taking to the court at 3.45 p.m. against Rwanda.
The winners of the competition will take part in the FIBA Africa Championship slated for August 10-30 in Brazzaville, Congo.
Fixtures (Monday)-In Kenyan time
Men: Rwanda v Kenya (3.45 p.m.), Uganda v Somalia (6 p.m.), Women: Egypt v Somalia (8 p.m.), Uganda v Kenya (10.15 p.m.)
Women: Natalie Akinyi (KPA), Samba Mjomba (Equity Bank), Betty Kananu (KPA), Yvonne Akinyi (KPA), Mercy Wanyama (Equity Bank), Hilda Indasi-Captain (Equity Bank), Purity Adhiambo (UCU,Uganda), Celine Okumu (KPA), Uganda), Velma Awino (UCU, Uganda), Georgia Adhiambo (USIU-A)
Head coach: David Maina.
Men: Evans Letting (KPA), Joseph Khaemba-Captain (Co-op Bank), Victor Bosire (KPA), Mike Makiadi (Power, Uganda), Griffins Ligare (Nairobi City Thunder), James Mwangi (Co-op Bank), Francis Ogolla (Falcons. Uganda), Frankline Omondi (Zetech), Phillip Ameny (Warriors, Uganda), Brian Namake (UCU,Uganda).
Head coach: Carey Odhiambo.