Are players injured while on national duty left to their devices?
Humphrey Kayange, a former Kenya Sevens captain sustained an ankle injury during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
He was treated at the hospital in the Athlete’s Village where the extent of the damage was initially diagnosed.
When sportsnewsarena.com exclusively interviewed Kayange in Glasgow, he said there was a possibility of travelling to England for a further diagnosis and a second opinion.
What did not emerge then was that the Kenya Sevens team travelled to the UK without a comprehensive medical insurance cover.
It was assumed that the medical expenses was the responsibility of the Kenya team management ,NOCK. Kayange went to London and was advised to undergo surgery.
With the team manager Steve Sewe, Kayange the quotation obtained for the surgery could not be covered by the (travel) the insurance of Team Kenya.
He contacted the KRU about the needs for his surgery but nothing was forthcoming.
Kayange flew back to Nairobi which is when Mwamba RFC got involved and contacted KRU officials who insisted the player should be treated at Kijabe Hospital which has a good relationship with KRU.
But, even at this juncture, nobody was prepared to pay for the surgery at Kijabe!
The frustration of treating injured athletes is real.
It may take up to a month or more before the payments are made because of bureaucracy at various associations or lack of money and proper medical cover.
Kayange takes up the story and explains his frustrations.
“If I had a sports insurance, the surgery could have been done in London.What we had was a travel insurance cover and not a sports insurance cover which required an extra premium. In Scotland, the incidentals such as injury were supposed to be covered by NOCK and not Kenya Rugby Union.”
The player explains it was a hard job trying to find the Team Kenya officials and so the information was passed on to KRU “to see if they could intervene.
One of the doctors whom he had consulted advised the next best place to have the surgery would be in South Africa.
“I had seen three doctors and it was up to me to make decision which was to go ahead with the surgery. I did not have a problem with being treated at Kijabe,” he stated.
At Driftwood Sevens, Kayange was part of the Mwamba technical bench and he rubbed shoulders with KRU Directors who barely inquired about his injury.
“At that time, I was ready to pay for the surgery.”
KRU didnt want to set a precedent
Paul Treu, the Kenya Sevens coach intervened and booked an appointment with a top specialist who also takes care of the South Africa rugby team.
Time was running out and Kayange recalls Mwamba RFC Chairman Alvas Onguru inquiring whether there were any attempts to address his injury.
“Mwamba paid for the hospital deposit, KRU the ticket (from a sponsorship deal) and I paid other bills. Later Mwamba pledged to pay the doctor’s fees.”
The KRU Board felt that by sending Kayange to South Africa for treatment it would set a precedent for the players.
“I was unhappy about being tossed around, one month after injury. Looking for a cheap option does not seem right if the KRU are interested in a player’s welfare.”
For two weeks, Kayange was in South Africa for what had been recommended by the doctors, a reconstructive surgery. Fortunately, the ligament was not torn but just dislocated.
An earlier MRI scan had shown the ligament was torn.He had surgery on the ankle which has been put in a cast so that the tissues around the injury area can be repaired to help the muscle and the ligament to heal.
“I feel that my injury has been handled pathetically both by the Team Kenya management and KRU. Player’s welfare should be a top priority and especially when it comes to treatment of injuries while on duty. What happens to players who cannot pay?” wondered Kayange who returned home last Thursday and will miss the first three International Rugby tournaments in October and December.
The earliest he could be back training is in December.