7 November 2018

Kenya: More Misery for Amputee Footballers on World Cup Journey

They staged a sit-in at the sports ministry's Kencom House headquarters to draw attention to their plight.

Then Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko came to their rescue and funded their trip to Mexico.

But the Kenya amputee football team's tribulations continued even after their fine performance at the Amputee Football World Cup in Mexico.

On Tuesday, the team spent 18 hours at the Frankfurt Airport without a meal as they journeyed back home from Guadalajara, Mexico, where they played their matches of the quadrennial tournament.

And this was after a 10-hour flight from Mexico.

And then there was the eight-hour flight from Frankfurt.

Angola won the championship after edging out Turkey 5-4 on post-match penalties to lift the title with Kenya finishing 12th out of the 24 nations.

The Kenyan team, managed by Peter Oloo, summoned their last bits of energy to board their home-bound Lufthansa flight with mixed emotions at Frankfurt on Wednesday morning.

Happy that they had gained invaluable exposure in Guadalajara, and that they enjoyed a last-gasp sponsorship from Sonko, but disappointed at the perennial problems back home that saw them travel to Mexico without residential training.

"The team is good. All they need is exposure, facilities and training," said Oloo.

CHESETO DECAMPS

The team's tribulations come as Kenya's amputee athlete Marko Cheseto, who completed Sunday's New York City Marathon in two hours, 52 minutes and 33 seconds, announced on Tuesday that he had taken up American citizenship.

Cheseto, 35, had lamented of being mistreated by Kenyan sports authorities who frustrated his bid to compete at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.

"This (USA) country has offered me so much," Cheseto said on Facebook.

"My higher education, a great family, running career and the list goes on and on.

"Thanks coach Michael Friess and University Of Alaska Anchorage for offering me an opportunity as a student athlete that has made me who I am today.

"Thank you America, chasing the dream."

The amputee footballers are an equally frustrated lot with Oloo lamenting that despite having handed in their budget in March, knowing they were on track, they almost failed to travel to Mexico until Sonko intervened.

"After the trials in Kakamega's Bukhungu Stadium, we picked a team of 24 which we had to cut down to 15 due to lack of funds," Kenya Amputee Football Federation treasurer Polycarp Mboya lamented.

"We were lucky that Parklands Sports Club offered us their private grounds to train for free for one month. We also had challenges of accommodation since most of the players come from outside Nairobi."

At the Amputee World Cup, they lost 4-1 to losing finalists Turkey in their opening match before recovering to beat USA 2-1 and were awarded a walkover against Liberia.

They lost 4-1 to Russia in the knockout stage before edging out Ireland 5-3 on penalties in their first positioning match, went on to beat Japan 2-1 before falling to Argentina 6-1 to finish 12th.

TRAVELLING PARTY

Officials: Peter Oloo (secretary, Kenya Amputee Football Federation), Polycarp Mboya (treasurer/player), Morris Shikanda (head coach), Willis Odhiambo (assistant coach) and Michael Somba (team doctor).

The players: Dalmas Otieno (captain), Nicholas Keiyo, Obi Ferdinand, Vincent Mutai, Mohammed Munga, Fred Aguk, Brian Oroka and Samuel Njoroge.

The rest of the squad has Peter Nzioka, Harrison Chege, Kevin Lumbasi, Ignatius Kayumbi and Albert Mwakenya

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