Starlets Olympic qualifier to go ahead despite financial worry

Harambee Starlets‘ Olympic qualifier against Zambia is set to go ahead despite the Football Kenya Federation refusing to fund the team.

The first of two legs is set for November 4 in Nairobi. With the return leg in Lusaka, Zambia four days later.

This is the last stage, with the aggregate winner earning a ticket to grace the 2020 Olympics.

Left with no other options

FKF chief Nick Mwendwa said that he’s been left with no option but to disband camp. He blamed the Kenyan government for failing to finance the team in the past year.

He stated that if no money is provided within the next seven days, the Zambia trip will be cancelled.

The unfortunate turn of events follows a desperate caution by Mwendwa last week.

He threatened that the federation would withdraw Starlets from the campaign should the Ministry of Sports fail to deliver funds for the team’s preparation by Tuesday.

Mwendwa, speaking in his press conference, said: “The Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Sports Ambassador Peter Kirimi Kaberia has been ignoring their calls to release funds for the team’s activities, without any meaningful explanation,

“Since Starlets played in the African Women Cup of Nations (AWCON), we have been duly applying for the team’s funding in vain.

“We have incurred debts every time our team has been involved in international duties waiting to pay as soon we are funded, but it has never happened,” said Mwendwa.

The FKF applied for Sh34 million in 2018 that is yet to be given. In June 2019, the federation applied for Sh38 million, before applying for a further Sh18 million in August and a similar figure in October for Malawi, Ethiopia, Ghana and Zambia matches respectively to no fruition.

Lack of funding

Mwendwa said: “We don’t know why. It appears there is a problem with funding football,

“Yet there is a commitment from President Uhuru Kenyatta himself that national teams are to be funded by the Ministry.”

“The worst bit is that there is no explanation given why the money cannot be released.”

This means Starlets’ efforts to eliminate World Cup finalists Black Queens of Ghana in the second round of the qualifiers could go to waste. The federation is also incurring debt for the previous rounds preparations.

“It is painful. I see the girls unable to cater for their basic needs and sometimes I’m forced to dig deep from my pocket to help them,” A frustrated Mwendwa added.

FKF failings

Already, auctioneers have come to FKF demanding for the monies owed to various service providers. Including airlines, hotels and venue owners.

“Amina Mohammed has already told us everything to do with funds applied for we talk to the Principal Secretary.

“He has failed to talk to us. We have today reached the climax of this. If he answers us and shows us where the problem is, we will be ready to take the next action.”

He continued: “We have sent four reminders, yet there is no response. This is coming when I’m smelling we can make it to Olympics, having seen how the girls performed against Ghana. Painfully, we may end up being barred from participating in the next qualifiers including for the Awcon.”

Kenya are likely to go to Tanzania for the forthcoming CECAFA tournament, by bus. Mwendwa is still emphasising it will be another hard task with the current situation.

Poignantly, the men’s national team play Egypt away in Cairo on November 10.

The federation is still in dire need of the funds to ensure the 2021 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) journey does not end before it has began.

Mwendwa says, without a response from the Ministry, it will be impossible for Kenya to honour the match too.