Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Heritage Amb. Amina Mohamed has called on corporate partners and Kenyans of goodwill to complement government efforts in cushioning Kenya’s sportspeople from the vagaries of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Cabinet Secretary said that the Ministry of Sports had already set up a Sports Stimulus Programme that is aimed at supporting an initial list of 901 sportspeople and national team’s technical officials, from various disciplines, who have been identified to be vulnerable and in critical need of financial support.
“Kenyan sportspersons, who always bring us glory in regional and international competitions, now stand to lose more than Sh5 billion in appearance fees, prize money and other endorsements this season, because of this pandemic whose effects are projected to stretch into next year," she said.
“It is incumbent upon us as a government, the corporate world and Kenyans of goodwill to stand with our athletes in their time of need,” she said.
Ambassador Amina noted that the Ministry had already submitted a proposal to The Sports, Arts & Social Development Fund - whose collections have decreased drastically in the advent of the crisis leading to suspension of sports events - to free the needed funds to support sportspeople, in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive. The Fund’s Board will seat on Tuesday to deliberate on the request.
Those picked - after a thorough vetting process spearheaded by the Ministry - are sportspersons who are either unemployed, self-employed or living with disability.
The select persons are set to receive a stipend to be determined on the basis of available funds for a period of three months, directly credited to their mobile phones, with plans already underway to incrementally extend the pool of beneficiaries from the initial 901 to 1,530.
CS Amina was speaking on Saturday when she received a Sh15 Million cheque from betting firm Betika to be channelled to the Sports Stimulus Programme committee, to help with this cause.
The Cabinet Secretary thanked Betika for their timely support, and urged other Kenyans of goodwill and corporate entities to also join hands in supporting the initiative.
“We thank Betika and all other well-wishers who are supporting our athletes through different initiatives. We are in communication with several other corporate partners who have shown willingness to support this programme, and we are hopeful that we will be making similar announcements in the coming days,” she said.
To ensure transparency, the CS said she was in consultation with the Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund Board and mobile service provider Safaricom to set up a coordinated central account where funds will be channelled and put in place systems that will ensure direct disbursement of the cash to the identified beneficiaries.
“We want to ensure that we use a system that guarantees monitoring, verification, direct-to-user disbursement and accountability,” noted CS Amina in a follow-up letter to Safaricom.
“My office will provide a payment schedule containing phone numbers to which the amounts will be paid directly,” she added.
The Sports CS also called on Kenyans to adhere to government directives to prevent further spread of virus and help in flattening the curve.
“We will defeat the Covid-19 pandemic and will soon be back to our fields, tracks and stadia.”