Anxiety has gripped Kenya’s athletes ahead of the first batch of departures to Rabat, Morocco for the African Games.
Fears of being dropped from the team owing to financial constraints have left some players uncertain of their participation, even as the country’s volleyball players depart for Morocco on Tuesday. The African Games will be held from August 19 to 31.
Kenya will send a contingent of 290 athletes across 22 disciplines, and Team Kenya CEO Charles Nyaberi revealed that the government is fully sponsoring the teams.
“There are challenges over finance because the government has not fully released the money. But everything else has gone according to plan, as teams have been in camp for the past two weeks. This has been possible through the National Sports Fund,” said Nyaberi on Monday in Nairobi.
Athletics, which is Kenya’s dominant sport, had been allocated 104 slots, but these have been whittled down to just 75.
However, general team manager Paul Mutwii said it will be hard to decide who will be dropped from the team’s training camp.
“There are 96 athletes in camp, and telling us to cut it down to their desired number, even if we have not surpassed the quota, is unacceptable,” said Mutwii.
Now Mutwii has cautioned that he may be forced to pull the team out of the games if their quota is not met.
“If we are pushed to drop more athletes, then there is no need to travel. We may be forced to withdraw the team from the African Games altogether,” added Mutwii.
However, volleyball team’s coach Paul Bitok is upbeat his side will retain the African Games title.
The team, which departs on Tuesday, will play one build-up match with hosts Morocco on Saturday before games begin on August 19.
“I have trained the team for the last week and the morale in the squad is very high. We will do anything to defend our title in Morocco,” said Bitok.