Coach breaks down, Lionesses Dubai tour cancelled

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Nov 12, 2021
  • Kenya Lionesses tour to Dubai is cancelled but players have embarked on a fundraising drive to salvage the tour. (SNA File Photo)

One of the coaches sobbed openly last Friday night when Paula Lanco, the Kenya Rugby Union Director in charge of women’s rugby told the players that the team had been disbanded.

Lanco told the players they were expected to go back to their respective clubs to pave way for reconstruction.

But, the players are not taking it lying down and have embarked on an ambitious fundraising campaign to travel to Dubai.

News of the team’s disbandment has been downplayed but there is more to it coming just three weeks before the Dubai Sevens which Kenya will miss for the first time in seven years.

Although the reason for disbanding the team was not given at the time, learned Kenya Airways were unable to give tickets to the women’s team as they have done in the past.

Our informant who is conversant with women’s rugby and the KRU said the coaches were not consulted despite working under difficult conditions with little or no resources. We also  learned the relationship between the players and this KRU Director have not been cordial.

“She has very little interest in the game and has been caught up in the KRU politics where there are two factions,” our source alleged. One of the promising rugby players has been forced to stop playing because of alleged interference by the KRU Board member.

It appears that the decison could be politically motivated from a KRU Board which has been split in the center with two factions pulling in the opposite directions. We were unable to establish this from the KRU.

Last year, Kenya reached the semi-final of the invitational international tournament in Dubai. “The coaches are dejected and broken down. They have lamented about the time wasted in training and coaching,” our informant stated.

He posed: “Who kills/disbands a team which is at the peak for development? There is no league to develop from. The girls have in the past formed teams to play games every weekend but have run into trouble because of no insurance.”

Robbed of an opportunity to showcase talent

Some of the players we contacted were unable to talk although they feel robbed of an opportunity to showcase their talent. “They have been sent home without allowances being paid. Not even a gratuity.

My take on this is that politics in the KRU Board has led to the chairman being pro-women’s rugby and Lanco appears to be on the opposite camp. We have been killed by one of our own,” the informer said.

We tried to get a comment from the coaches and players but were unsuccessful. A former player however shed some light saying the KRU knew about the tournament in Dubai as early as January this year when they were given a plan for the year.

The player itimated that one of the reasons was that the selectors were being prevailed upon to include younger players and phase out the older ones. She added: “Players have to fight for positions and if the older players were still at their peak, there was no need to phase them out.”

Kenya was expected to start a women’s league this season but when the fixtures were released, there was no slot for a women’s league. Besides Mwamba, which provides the bulk of the national team seven-a-side rugby team, other clubs have a sprinkle of players.

These are Kenya Harlequin FC, Impala, Nakuru and KCB. Impala and Nakuru have players in the under-19 category.

Elsewhere, a private audit firm has embarked on auding various accounts of the Kenya Rugby Union as well as that of Safari Sevens.