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Nairobi News : December 11th 2013
30 Wednesday, Dec 11 - Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 nairobinews.co.ke sport Shame of our abandoned Deparation. State backs down on pledge to fund Africa Cup as the national team suffers humiliation after failing to raise Sh3.5 million and barely survives on well-wishers’ handouts BRIAN WASUNA, NairobiNews @bwasuna email@example.com A mputee football may not attract the fanaticism that characterises a Gor and AFC match but no doubt, it is growing and pulling in fans. Watching amputee footballers in action gives you a sense of what determination can do. The players do not let their circumstances define them. The abandon with which they thrust themselves into the game is a clear sign that they are out to enjoy themselves, no matter what. Since Kenya is celebrating 50 years of independence, the Amputee Football Federation of Africa (AFFA) gave the country the nod to host the fourth edition of the Africa Cup of Nations. The decision was received with joy and high hopes of reaching out to Kenyans to understand what amputee football is all about. But this has turned out to be a curse. Kenya Federation of Amputee Foot- ball (KFAF) sought funds from the Government long before the tournament, but was turned down. The State maintained it had no money. Postponment “As we drew closer to the cham- pionship, the Government told us to postpone it. The African body could not agree to move the tournament because it would interfere with the international calendar,” said Kenya Amputee Football Association treasurer Charity Kimani. Organisers were then told they could go ahead with the tournament for as long as they would source funds from other avenues. KFAF chairman Ibrahim Wafula was forced to step in and donate the Sh100,000 prize he won during this year’s Standard Charted marathon tricycle race. He previously won the event in 2009. “I love the sport, and there is noth- ing I wouldn’t do to ensure these boys get the best. It is out desire to grow the sport for Kenyans to understand what it is about,” said Wafula. “My appeal to the Government and the public is to look at amputee football like any other sport. We need the support of others because on we own we cannot make it,” he added. Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero’s office donated Sh25,000 towards the the tournament. Few other well-wishers such as Double MM Bus Company provided free transport from the hotel to the stadium. This, however, was not enough to offset the team’s Sh3.5 million deficit. Having started promisingly, Kenya was put to shame when players were almost evicted from the Sportsview Hotel in Kasarani for failing to pay bills. Further embarrasment was to fol- low when the hotel refused to give the players meals. National team captain Dalmas Otieno had to beg players to take to the pitch after they threatened to go on strike before the tournament kicked off due to unpaid allowances. Lack of spares “I do not know what we will do if any player damages their crutches as we do not have spares. That is the main reason why the team wanted to boycott the tournament. We have spent over Sh600,000 from our pockets on medicine, crutches and other equipment while in camp, but no help is forthcoming,” said Otieno. In contrast, visiting teams have the resources to provide for their players and officials, putting the hosts in an akward situation. “In other countries where the tournament has previously been held, governments were supportive. I am wondering why Kenya is different. In Liberia, President Sirleaf Johnson attended all matches,” said AFFA vice president Habiba Lamida. The amputees tournament was moved to City Stadium because it coincided with the Cecafa Senior Challeng Cup which entered the semi-finals yesterday. In a case of double standards, the Government bailed out Cecafa organisers who had a budget shortfall and turned a blind eye to the amputee. In spite of the difficult conditions, the players are confident that things will change, and the sport will pick up. Kenya number one goalkeeper Zacchaeus Kombo said with the right kind of support and leadership, the situation would with time. “We are restructuring and are con- fident next year’s league will be successful. Just watch this space,” added Kombo. “Sports are a good way of empow- ering people with disabilities. I know someone will pick up on this and help us achieve our goals,” he said. An eight-team league was in its sec- ond year before leadership wrangles brought it to a pre-mature end before a winner was announced. Valentine club which won the inau- gural league in 2011 was disbanded. The players regrouped and formed Nairobi Club. Nairobi players form the bulk of national team players with seven participants, Thika has three and Eldoret one. • Kenya has eight amputee clubs in Nairobi, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu, Thika, Mombasa, Kakamega and Machakos. • A revamped league will kick off next year after leadership wrangles caused its abandonment last season. Kombo: Sports are a good way of empowering people with disabilities. I know someone will pick up on this and help us achieve our goals” • The sport was introduced in Kenya by a Turk, Mehmet Turkes in 2010. Turkes brought together 18 players through the help of a friend, Mercy Nzioka, and gradually took the sport countrywide. Amputee footballers preparing for training. Below: Captain Dalmas Okoth. Denish Ochieng, NairobiNews Origin of the sport • The sport was discovered by Don Bennet in 1980. He was the first ever amputee to climb Mt Rainier, the second highest peak in the United States. • Rainier was active in skiing, boating and mountain climbing before he lost a leg in a boating accident when it was hit by a propellor. • One day while watching his son play basketball, the ball rolled towards him, and Rainier kicked it back to him. From that point he decided to play football. • By 1998, the sport had grown and the first World Cup was held in Manchester, England. Russia won gold, while Uzbekistan and Brazil picked silver and bronze medals. • Uzbekistan are the current champions having won the 2012 tournament in Russia. The country has won three titles, similar to Russia and Brazil. • The first Africa Cup of Nations tournament for amputees was hosted by Sierra Leone in 2007. Ghana proved too strong for all opposition, beating Liberia in the final to lift the cup • Liberia became the first host nation to win the title two years later. They also became the first nation to defend the title when they won the cup in Ghana in 2011. • Kenya was poised to take part in the 2011 edition but were forced to pull out at the last minute due to lack of funds. Senegal too pulled out for the same reasons.
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