The Sports Ministry are expected to ‘host’ surprise guests anytime this week after Boxing Association of Kenya (BAK) threatened to stage a-sit-in protest at the Ministry offices.
This is following a back and fourth accusation between the two protagonists with BAK blaming the Ministry of failing to release Ksh. 7 million budget for the Olympic qualifiers in Cameroon.
“If we don’t get any positive response, I am going to take all these boxers to Kencom House (Sports Ministry offices) and sit there until we get what we deserve. We cannot work so hard then we are told on the last minute that we’re not going for the trip. It’s their responsibility,” threatened John Kameta, the Association president.
Kenya is set to travel for the Continental qualifiers set for March 9th in Cameroon but the trip now hangs in the balance after the Ministry failed to commit the funds.
A tussle is now looming between BAK and the Hassan Wario-led Ministry. Kameta said they will not bow to the government’s stand to reduce the number of participants saying that all the boxers deserve the chance to fight for their Olympics spots.
“Boxing is not like Athletics. We cannot say a boxer is weak to get a qualification because maybe in his/her category that day the opponent is weaker and so we cannot say that some boxers are weak and therefore should not go for the qualifiers. We need to send the whole team to qualify a good number of boxers,” added Kameta.
“They are telling me to reduce the number of my boxers but am telling them it is not possible because we’ve really worked hard to keep this team in camp,” added Kameta who has now taken the bull by the horn.
He has challenged Wario to come out and address the issue which has also affected boxing before and Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) who failed to get funds to send the team for the second and last leg of Olympics qualifiers.
“Instead of Wario accusing the federation of what we are doing, he should come up and address this issue of qualification because am getting hurt as the President to see my kids going through such strenuous training and they are not sure that they are going to travel,” added Kameta who rubbished the ministry’s call to use part of their league sponsorship from Sportpesa to carter for the trip.
“It is true we got Sh20million from SportPesa but that money is budgeted for. The sponsors cannot stand in for the government. We will have to account for every penny from our sponsors. We are not going to touch that money.”
Currently there are 13 boxers in camp including Benson Gicharu who took part in the last Olympics in London 2012, Nixon Abaka and Elizabeth Akinyi. Kameta however did not say how many boxers the government want the Federation to drop.
“Am not only seeking to qualify but win gold once we get to Rio,” said Gicharu in his passionate appeal to the government to send the team to Cameroon.
“Unfortunately, the government has not given us any support ahead of this trip,” said the Olympiad who lost his first Olympic match to Egyptian Hesham Abdelaal.
“It’s not easy picking one or two players from the pool then telling them that they are out of the qualifiers. If one must go then its better if I don’t travel,” Team Kenya head coach said.
This is not the first time the Ministry of sports is at loggerheads with BAK and number of other federations for failing to honour their end of the bargain by sending Kenyan team to the Olympics qualifiers.
Late last year, Rayton Okwiri missed the chance to take part in the Olympics qualifiers during the world championship after the ministry failed to release funds to facilitate his trip to Doha.
The Ministry also failed to release money for women’s volleyball team for the Olympics qualifiers which were held in Cameroon.
Any attempt to get comment from Wario bore no fruit as our call went unanswered.
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