Sports Cabinet Secretary (CS) Amina Mohamed has promised the Kenya Lionesses all the support they will need ahead of the 2021 AfroBasket finals in Cameroon.
Speaking when she met the Afrobakst Zone 5 champions at a Nairobi West hotel Sunday night after the team jetted back home from Rwanda, Amina said she was very proud of the team.
She revealed that she watched the entire final match where favourites Egypt suffered a 99-83 upset at the hands of Kenya in the finals on Saturday at the Kigali Arena.
"I am very happy with the team. We will support you fully for the AfroBasket," Amina said.
Speaking on behalf of players, team captain Rose Ouma said it was an honour to represent the country at the Zone 5 championship.
She said the meeting with CS Amina meant a lot to the team.
"It has been a long journey. It started shaky and we had some of our own fans doubting us when we lost the first match against Rwanda. Messages of encouragement from Amina pushed us to up our game in the remaining matches.
We managed to emerge from those two losses and won the title. We are grateful to fans and forever indebted to them for supporting us all the way through social media," said the Dubai-based player.
Lionesses coach George Mayienga said the CS gave them strength, before sounding a warning to other teams that will be at the AfroBasket, "Cameroon here we come."
Kenya Basketball Federation official Nelly Odera said that Amina's presence at the function showed the confidence that she has in the team.
Kenya National Sports Council official Charles Nyaberi termed Lionesses automatic qualification for the AfroBasket as "huge", only coming close to when Kenya qualified for World Championship in 1992.
"I'm happy to see the resurgence of women teams... Malkia Strikers (national women volleyball team) is back in in the Olympic Games and the Beach volleyball (women team has qualified for the Olympics for the first time and now the Lionesses are in AfroBasket," said Nyaberi, as he reminded the basketball side that the "bigger fight is in Cameroon".
Kenya Basketball Federation chairman Paul Otula said the Lionesses had proved the doubting Thomases wrong.
Otula pledged to give the team a token of Sh100,000. Commissioner of Police Lazarus Opicho said he will give the team five goats.
The Zone 5 winners join Zone 2 champions Cape Verde and host Cameroon as the teams that have already qualified for the 12-nation Fiba Africa Championship for Women (AfroBasket) 2021 slated for September 17-26.
The best two teams at the AfroBasket 2021 will remain in contention for a spot in 2022 Fiba Women's Basketball World Cup. They will join Brazil, Canada, Puerto Rico, USA, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Russia, Serbia and Australia in the 2022 World Cup Qualifying tournament.