Uncertainty surrounding the Kenya national women’s basketball team’s participation at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afrobasket) championships in Dakar is likely to dampen the spirits of the players ahead of the tournament that starts on Friday, officials fear.
Kenya Basketball Federation officials Paul Otula (chairman) and Hilmi Ali (vice chairman) are not happy that with only hours before the team’s scheduled departure to Senegal on Thursday, the government is yet to confirm their air tickets.
The team’s accommodation and other requirements for the tournament are also yet to be fixed.
“It is very frustrating for our sportswomen to remain in camp for close to three weeks now without any information on their travel plans. This uncertainty has caused panic and will most likely affect their performance at this very important tournament,” Ali said.
Otula, meanwhile, said Kenya Basketball Federation had submitted the team’s budget to the government immediately they qualified for the continental finals over three weeks ago.
“We should have been told from the beginning that this trip would be a non-starter. The fine for not participating is quite heavy,” Otula said yesterday. “The government should have come up straight and told us they had no money in time to allow us come up with a plan ‘B.’
The players in camp at a Nairobi West hotel include captain Hilda Indasi, Debra Atieno, Samba Mjomba, Natalie Akinyi, Georgia Adhiambo, Melisa Akinyi, Betty Kananu, Silalei Shani, Mercy Wanyama, Vilma Achieng, Belinda Okoth, Annrose Mandela and Rebecca Njoki.
According to Ali, competing in international tournaments puts the Kenyan players on the global radar, making it possible for foreign scouts to recruit them either on scholarships abroad or for professional stints.
“It is very sad that federation officials have had to camp at the Ministry of Sports offices for hours waiting to see the officials in vain,” he lamented, proposing a change of policy on how government handles national teams’ affairs.