Kenya’s Olympic officials have moved to end the misery of retired internationals by offering Sh500,000 in seed money for their upkeep.
The officials from the National Olympic Committee Kenya (NOC-K), Kenya National Sports Council (KNSC) and Kenya National Paralympic Committee (KNPC) say the initial amount is meant to fend off effects of the coronavirus pandemic from the veterans.
NOC-K acting secretary general, Francis Mutuku, told journalists at the programme’s launch Wednesday that the initiative will first target “Team Kenya” athletes who competed at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and African Games.
They must have retired by 2004. These are the athletes identified as the most vulnerable.
However, the support will extend to others, subject to raising of requisite resources.
“We first of all want to appreciate the support that the government, and the Ministry of Sports in particular, have given to our active athletes,” Mutuku said.
“We know the pandemic has affected our athletes greatly and most of them have been inactive for three months.
“The government support has, therefore, greatly eased the burden being experienced by the active athletes.
“We encourage our sports people to use these funds very wisely.
“It is instrumental to note that NOC-K carried out a webinar on management of finances and trust that the lessons derived will be useful”, Mutuku added.
The initiative by the umbrella bodies is, therefore, meant to go beyond what the government has done.
“Food support has been identified as a critical and priority need area of focus for the next three months.
“We want to give food support to the retired athletes. After consultation, we felt food aid will be of greater assistance as we continue looking for other partners in this initiative,” remarked Mutuku.
A pay bill number will be launched on Monday next week to enable the public to contribute to cushioning the needy athletes during this tough period.
“We are very grateful to the national federations who have started working on some form of support for sports persons.’’
“NOC-K has committed Sh500,000 to kick start the programme. This amount will only cater for food because this is a key area.
“According to an athletes’ survey conducted by NOC-K, they cited finance, food, wellness and fitness as their areas of concern and even as we appeal for more support, it’s all systems go.
“The government has already dealt with the financial bit and we hope to continue this initiative as long as possible,” Mutuku added.
KNSC treasurer, Charles Nyaberi lauded NOC-K for setting the ball rolling with the latest initiative as they seek to cushion sports people of all cadres from the effects of coronavirus.
“We thank the Ministry of Sports for taking care of first and second tier athletes.
“We implore federations to also try and come up with a support system for their sports people. We have requested NOC-K to start a pay bill to rally the public behind this noble initiative,” said Nyaberi.
“The government will continue for the next two months to support our active athletes with most of them having already received Sh10,000 each as ordered by the Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.
“We will support the umbrella bodies going forward to ensure the program for our sports people who have represented us since independence is a success,” said Sports Commissioner, Japson Gitonga.
NOC-K is in the process of creating a database of all national level athletes, which will be extended later to include retired athletes.
According to Mutuku, such information is key because they will be able to profile and effectively find ways of addressing