They came for Benja, we didn’t speak, they said he spoke to the President and undercut them, we believed them. They came for the referees, we didn’t speak, they said they didn’t know how to ref anyway and we could do without them (we couldn’t).
Just before a crucial rugby world cup qualifier, they came for the Simbas head coach who had taken the country to its highest ever world ranking, we watched and typed a few words of disappointment. They have been playing musical chairs with players’ salaries for as long as my memory serves me, yesterday, after revelations of how the events in London Paris played out, they have brought us to a point where we have to say, Simba Amechoka!!
It has been a tough couple of years being a rugby fan, let alone a player, akin to a well scripted telemundo telenovela, just when you think things are looking good, we always have our beloved KRU to quickly yank us back to the pits of despair, this has to end.
Our most recent ‘cuando de KRU’ (I have no idea what that means), saw the Kenya sevens blank out a sponsor’s logo at the Paris sevens over outstanding payments. This was probably not the wisest of moves, but it did have the effect they were looking for, probably even more.
The debacle has since cost the Union the sponsor, Brand Kenya, and the most successful sevens coach in our history, his job, a little over 20 days to the sevens world cup. Namcos stood up on behalf of his players and said that he should be held responsible for the events in Paris. A move that is worth a movie on its own, Nollywood maybe?
I have been a rugby fan for a short while, a kid who was born the first time I watched a rugby match, will be lining up to get his ID in a few. One thing has always been constant, players are almost treated as rag dolls in these streets, stories of unpaid allowances running as far back as the 90s, neglect after injuries, teams who have gone through laughable times on tour, ask any player who has represented this country in the past, they always have a story.
We have always brushed these aside as stages of rugby development, you know the way your dad told you he used to walk miles barefoot to get to school. Hoping things change that we (our generation) will have it better and will pass on a great sport to the next generation, but year after year, sponsor after sponsor, we seem to be still walking bare foot, haiwezi!
Though we have made great strides in growing our sport, we have stuck to our telenovela script, 3 steps forward, 73 steps backwards.
We could go on and on, with how we have failed before, the Kenya sevens strikes can almost be mistaken as part of their season’s training. The Simbas are no better, their previous year’s salaries (or part of) are usually paid just before they are called for a new season. A few years back, they almost failed to take to the pitch over arrears, last week they boycotted training, over what? Yes.
A phrase in the Kenya sevens players’ statement really hit home, to paraphrase, they said they are doing this for future generations. Something myself and a couple of friends have been saying through out, that we cannot simply be pedestrians in this sport and leave it the way we found it. My twin boys, when they do get here, cannot play in the same conditions their uncles and grand fathers played in, haiwezi!
As fans we simply cannot watch from the sides and get mad behind our keyboards and phones (Hehe nimejipiga own goal hapo..). With the sport now at one of its lowest moments and a good number of its custodians, the club officials, in bed and happy with how things are at KRU, it is our turn to be heard. But how?
A few of you have already started #BoycottKRU which until some point this morning I was fully behind the idea, of not attending the forthcoming Kenya Simbas test matches, well not anymore, here is why. By doing this we will be shooting ourselves and this sport we love in the foot, hoping it hurts them more than us.
When I got into this sport, they first taught me that first, the game is bigger than anyone or anything and it must go on, without it, we are nothing. All issues aside, the fixtures ahead have the potential to change this country’s rugby destiny, this opportunity comes once in four years, we cannot let it pass by.
So let us turn up and support these boys, I can’t imagine the Simbas playing in an empty stadium, at home! There are many ways to make our feelings known at the stadium. As a start task you club officials, as to what they are doing about this current state of the Union.
To the stakeholders, i.e the Government, the Sports Ministry and rugby fan number one, Your Excellency, I am sure this irks you as much as it does all of us. We are looking to you, mtuokoe. We are waiting…