The Kenyan government has distanced themselves from the financial problems bedevilling the women’s national team, the Harambee Starlets.
The Kenyan side, through their captain Dorcas Shikobe on Sunday, sent a passionate appeal to the government to support their cause after they defeated Ghana’s Black Queens 1-0 on aggregate to advance to the fourth round of the Tokyo 202 Olympic Games Qualifiers.
“We have fought for this team since 2015 but the government still owes us money since then,” Shikobe told Goal after the match against Ghana.
“We ask them to help us and give us the same support which they accord the men’s team. This will boost our morale and make our up-coming fixtures easy.”
But in a swift rejoinder, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Sports, Amina Mohamed, has defended the government against accusations they were neglecting them and instead put the blame on the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) for failing to submit a budget for the team.
“[Harambee Starlets] have not submitted any request for funding and that request must come from the federation, so [FKF] must submit a request for the team to be funded,” Mohamed told reporters on Friday.
“After I saw the complaints from the team I started probing and asked the federation to put in a request and they have promised to do that on Monday. So if someone comes to you and tells you we have refused to fund the Starlets, then he or she is lying to you.”
However, FKF president Nick Mwendwa has dismissed the claims by Mohamed, insisting they have always been putting in a request for funds to support the team but have never received any for the past one year.
“We applied for funding for Malawi game home and away,” Mwendwa told Goal. “We applied funding for the Ghana home and away game in time and on both occasions, the Ministry did not respond.
“We have now gone into debt to make sure the girls play hoping that the Ministry of Sports will come through.
“We could not apply for [Zambia] funding before playing [Ghana] because we had not won the tie against Ghana yet. We have applied for Starlets funding for a year and have never received a cent even after the promises were made.”
The Starlets will next face Zambia in the fourth round of the qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Games.