A story is told how Shabana Football Club’s players and technical staff once found themselves marooned in a dingy pub in Mombasa for several days and nights after running short of funds for a return trip to Kisii.
Back then, Shabana was still a force to reckon with in Kenya’s top division. But the club was on a steep decline having fallen on hard times. So much so that the team could barely honour away league matches.
It is under these deflating circumstances that sometime in early March 2005 Shabana made their way down to the coast to face Dubai Bank in a league match that was already lost long before they stepped on the pitch.
For a start, the long road trip from Kisii to Mombasa was fraught with all sorts of tribulations, meaning that the journey weary team arrived in the coastal city just minutes to kick off.
As you would expect, they were soundly spanked 5-0 by the host team.
At the end of the match, an already bad situation turned into a crisis. The players and team officials were suddenly awoken to the harsh reality of their dire straits.
With no cash to catch the next upcountry bus, it downed on the players that they could neither afford a meal nor a place to spend the night.
Under these bleak prospects, the pitiful troop players took to aimlessly wandering around the island, until by some good fortune they bumped on a benevolent patron who offered to host them for the night in the seedy pub, which also served as a tea and mandazi kiosk.
One night would turn into two nights and two days of sleeping on a bare floor and hard wooden tables.
When the team’s plight was eventually highlighted by the media, pictures of the haggard players made for a very depressing sight.
That incident was the beginning of Shabana’s downward spiral that eventually banished them from the top tier league.
Many years later, it is truly gratifying to note that the old Shabana of the Tore Bobe fame is well on course for a much awaited comeback to the Kenyan Premier League.
The poignant memories of Shabana’s plight, those many years ago, came flooding back into my mind last week when the Kenya Prisons women’s volleyball team endured a similar predicament, albeit at an international scale.
From a delayed travel itinerary, being fed on morsels, being kicked out of their hotel rooms and having their travel documents confiscated by their malevolent hosts, the prison wardresses had one sojourn to forget in Egypt, where they were representing Kenya at the Women's Africa Club Volleyball Championship.
Mercifully, their agony was brought to a swift end when the government through, the Ministry of Interior and Coordination, ‘repatriated’ them even before they could complete their tour of duty.
What is baffling, though, is the ridiculous excuse the department in charge of the team offered for the team’s embarrassing predicament abroad.
Claims by Correctional Services Principal Secretary Zeinab Hussein that the Department for Correctional Services was ‘surprised’ to learn that the team was outside the country stinks to the high heaven.
Surely, does Ms Hussein expect the Kenyan public to believe that a dozen uniformed officers could have ‘sneaked’ out of the country and set up a ragtag camp in a foreign land, only for the government to learn of their unsanctioned junket several days later?
The Department for Correctional Services should try giving us a better excuse for the women’s volleyball team’s debacle in Cairo.