Uproar at number of players being dumped by their clubs

Thursday, September 26th, 2019 00:00 |
Medics attend to a player during a recent Kenyan Premier League match between Mathare United and KCB. Right, injured Gor Mahia defender Shafik Batambuze who has been told to wait until the club gets funds for him to be treated.Photo/PD/DAVID NDOLO

An athlete’s worst nightmare, at whichever level, is a career-ending injury whether sustained on or off the pitch. 

While some injuries are genuinely irreversible, most can be handled and the athlete get back to playing within a short time.

The local football scene has been awash with debates on clubs and Football Kenya Federation’s (FKF) ‘neglect’ of players who sustain injuries on duty with the national team.

Since latest news of Philemon Otieno and Shafik Batambuze’s injuries and how FKF and Gor Mahia have handled the situation, questions have emerged on how many of the 18 Kenya Premier League (KPL) clubs have comprehensive medical covers for their playing unit in the event of injury.

The reality on the ground is disturbing, since only six KPL clubs have medical covers for their players.   This is not to mention clubs taking part in the second tier league and other competitive leagues.

While it has been a cat-and-mouse game between clubs and the local football administrators on whose responsibility it is to have Otieno undergo his surgery, Gor have put Batambuze waiting as they source for funds.

“I need this surgery to be able to play again but the club has told me to wait until they get funds. There is no timeline as to when that will happen and it has left me desperate to the extent of turning to well-wishers for financial help,” said the Ugandan international.

People Sport has established that despite the fact that the club licensing rules demand all teams taking part in the main league to have medical covers for their registered players, only Posta Rangers, Tusker FC, Kariobangi Sharks, Bandari, Wazito and KCB have medical insurance for their players and immediate family members.

However, all the 18 clubs have issued the players with National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) cards, but it is not sufficient for some injuries sustained from the sport.

Posta Ranger’s team manager John Wakhu confirmed to People Sport that the club’s cover is Sh800,000 for inpatient and Sh100,000 outpatient offered by UAP Insurance.

“We have a comprehensive cover that has come in handy for our players in the event of injury. Jockins Atudo and Calvin Odongo underwent surgery on Monday night for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury at Nairobi Orthopedic Centre and will be out for six months. Suleiman Ngotho is back in training after undergoing a knee surgery that kept him off the pitch for a year,” said Wakhu.

Bandari CEO Edwin Oduor puts the club’s package at a maximum of Sh4 million for both inpatient and outpatient for each player and their immediate family members offered by Allianz Insurance.

KCB are covered by APA to a tune of Sh1million for inpatient and Sh300,000 for outpatient.  “We also give our players enough time to recover and go back to playing after any injury including the long-term ones. In the event their hospital bills go beyond the stipulated amount, we compensate the player for the extra amount spent,” said a senior KCB official who sought anonymity.

Additionally, both Wazito and Tusker have AAR as their service provider with Kariobangi Sharks enjoying the services of Resolution

According to Kenya Premier League (KPL) CEO Jack Oguda, all clubs should have a medical cover included in their contracts with the players in accordance with the FIFA standards. “Clubs are not keen to comply on this issue. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to compel them as it is not our mandate. 

“However, we are looking at the possibility of getting a bulk cover for all players in the league but this is yet to be finalised,” said Oguda.

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