Safaricom offers financial boost for Team Kenya ahead of Deaflympics Qualifiers
The 2021 Africa Deaflympics Ball Games qualifiers being held in Nairobi have received a major boost after Kenya telecommunications giant Safaricom pumped in Ksh 1 million to their kitty
According to Safaricom, the sponsorship will cover the players’ kits and airtime during the ball games, which are the first-ever Deaflympics Qualifiers to be held in Kenya since its inception in 1924.
Over 1,000 participants from 22 African countries will be in attendance. There will be 16 deaf football teams and 8 deaf basketball teams in the tournament.
Kenya's next opponents Mali are yet to arrive in the country, despite the match being slated for Wednesday.
In the first match, Kenya lost 1-3 to Senegal on Friday, and both the home team and Senegal might then get a bye to the quarter-finals if Mali fails to show up.
So far only seven of the intended 16 countries have arrived in the country, thus putting the program into jeopardy, with the local organizing Committee looking at adjusting the schedules.
Twenty-three countries had initially committed to the event, but the number was reduced to 16 as a result of financial constraints and COVID-19 related issues.
Kenya was picked to stage this prestigious championship following the successful hosting of the Deaf Athletics Championship in Nairobi in 2019.
Due to the travel hitches and COVID-19 constraints, organizers have now reduced to three teams per Group.
Kenya's men’s team head coach Ben Omukuba is however convinced that despite the setback, Kenya has what it takes to qualify for the World Deaflympics Championship slated for Brazil next year.
“This tournament has been a challenge for many teams, but great lessons learnt for the team and organisers and I believe we shall record positive results,” Omukuba said.
According to Omukuba there is a possibility of Kenya qualifying to the next round if they improve on certain aspects of the game like collective defending and transition.
“Against Senegal, we were slow and had school-boy errors in our defence, but I can assure our fans that we will fix those problems and confident we shall qualify for the next round,” Omukuba added.
In a separate interview, the Kenya ladies Deaflympics head coach Ken Kabethi has expressed frustrations with the lack of playtime yet for her girls but was assured that they will do well.
“Our opponents in the group, Ghana and Zanzibar, have yet to arrive into the country despite confirming participation. It sort of messes up with our plan, but I know based on what we saw in camp, our players are ready for the challenge no matter the circumstances,” she said.