Kenyatta Promises Financial Support to Athletes Hit By Virus Crisis

(file photo).

AFC Leopards midfielder Marvin Omondi has welcomed President Uhuru Kenyatta's promise that the government is working to cushion sportsmen and women who are struggling financially owing to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I can assure you we have not forgotten our athletes. We know they are suffering," said President Kenyatta during an interview with the media.

"We have the National Sports Fund which we will use to get money and help support them at these difficult times."

In an exclusive interview with Nation Sport, 20-year-old Omondi said he had struggled to make ends meet in the last eight months so much that he was considering quitting professional football altogether.

"It is good news the President has finally remembered us. I last received my (monthly) salary in August (last year). We were in pre-season in Mumias at the time and the sponsor (SportPesa) had stopped their partnership with the club," the youngster recalls.

"The management has tried but still struggles to pay us. We now rely on handouts from fans and well-wishers. I play football to expose my talent and earn. Now I cannot survive and maybe it is time I tried something else."

STANDSTILL

Kenyan football is currently at a standstill following an order by Sports CS Amina Mohamed for the closure of all sports facilities in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.

All football matches in the country have been suspended indefinitely, leading to a loss of revenue to players, coaches, referees, and other stakeholders.

There has been a continuous call for the government to help footballers, and athletes, in general, to survive the hard times.

Leading to Harambee Stars forwards Michael Olunga and Allan Wanga have called on the authorities to support players.

"It is very difficult for a Kenyan footballer without a salary and bonuses because they don't even earn much," said Japan-based Olunga.

"This is the point where players fall into depression," added Wanga.

TOUGH TIMES FOR CLUBS

This week, the Ministry of Sports asked FKF to furnish it with names of footballers and officials competing in the Kenyan Premier League, Women Premier League, National Super League, plus the Division One and Division Two leagues.

"We are also affected, no training, no games means no revenue from sponsors. We are talking to the government and Fifa and expect a development soon," said FKF president Nick Mwendwa.

Several KPL clubs have publicly stated it will be difficult for them to meet their obligation of paying players their salaries under the current circumstances.

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