Rewarding talent: Kenya and Tanzania’s contrasting styles

Tuesday March 26 2019

Tanzania players celebrate after qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations on March 24, 2019. PHOTO | COURTESY |

Tanzania players celebrate after qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations on March 24, 2019. PHOTO | COURTESY |  

DAVID KWALIMWA
By DAVID KWALIMWA
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Kenyan athletes are very familiar with unfulfilled promises from the government, be they about development of sports infrastructure, or pledges of cash awards for their awe-inspiring performances for the country.

Take Kenya’s football team, Harambee Stars, for example. When Kenya beat Zanzibar 4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw in the final of 2017 Cecafa Senior Challenge tournament at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos, Deputy President William Ruto hosted the team at his Karen residence and promised the players Sh50 million and a state-of-the-art bus upon qualification for 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

Ruto repeated the promise last October ahead of Kenya’s match against Ethiopia in 2019 Afcon qualifiers at Kasarani. Kenya won 3-0 to all but qualify for the tournament, but the promise remained fulfilled.

The team fulfilled its part of the bargain last October, but senior government officials are now haggling in public on whom between the DP and Ministry of Sports should honour the pledge.

Each Stars player was yesterday awarded Sh30,000 in ‘camping allowance’ by Football Kenya Federation following Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Ghana in their final Group ‘F’ qualifier match.

The increasingly impatient Stars contingent is still waiting for the Sh50 million cash pledge, and the promised state-of-the-art bus.

In sharp contrast, Tanzanian President John Pombe Maghufuli on Monday rewarded each member of the country’s football team Taifa Stars with a piece of land in Dodoma ‘to sell or use for building a house’, and Sh500,000 token of appreciation for each player as reward for qualification to the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in almost four decades.

This is after Taifa Stars easily beat Uganda 3-0 at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Sunday to attain the qualification.

“I did not expect you to reach this stage after the poor showing when you lost in Lesotho. Since then I have not received any call or replied any text message from the Minister of Sports. But today, I am very happy because we have made all the 55 million Tanzanians proud,” Maghfuli told Taifa Stars players in meeting at State House on Monday.

Despite that loss in Dar es Salaam, Ugandan players have every reason to smile as President Yoweri Museveni has already awarded the team an equivalent of Sh100 million for qualifying for the same tournament.

That ‘bonus’ which was wired to the Federation’s account last November was accompanied by a brand new bus for use by the team.

What’s more, each Ugandan player had been promised Sh250,000 for a win and Sh150,000 for a draw in the match against Tanzania.

And there are more examples of how to treat national team players. Members of Ghana’s Black Stars squad are expected to receive an equivalent of Sh1 million each as winning bonus for beating Kenya on Saturday.

Even Burundi, a country with a smaller economy than Kenya’s, has not been left behind. President Pierre Nkurunziza has awarded each player Sh150,000 for qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

In Kenya, Harambee Stars are still waiting for Sh244 million to facilitate team preparation for Africa Cup of Nations, amid a recent statement by President Uhuru Kenyatta that Sports will form the ‘main agenda of the government in 2019’.

Cecafa secretary-general Nicholas Musonye has meanwhile lauded East African teams following their impressive performances in the qualification campaign.

“As a region, we are proud to have four teams at the event and we are confident that the four countries will rise to the occasion in Egypt. We hope our government will support their preparations,” the veteran football administrator said.

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