The Ongoing Struggle: Kenya Lionesses’ Fight for Financial Justice

The Kenya Lionesses, the national women’s rugby team, are facing a severe financial crisis that has left them unpaid for several months. Despite their remarkable performance on the field, their dedication has been overshadowed by the financial neglect they are experiencing from the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU). Participating in prestigious events like the Africa Cup and the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series, including tournaments in Dubai, Uruguay, and Poland, has only highlighted the disparity between their achievements and their treatment by the governing body. We asked for comment from the Kenya Rugby Union but as of the posting date have not received a response.

The Plight of the Players

Reports surfaced in March 2024 that the Lionesses had not received their salaries for seven months. Players have voiced their frustration and hardships, highlighting the struggle to meet basic needs such as rent and bills. One player, speaking anonymously, expressed the growing strain: “Life is becoming hard, and we have rent and other bills to pay.”

Another player echoed these concerns, lamenting the lack of communication from the authorities. “It’s now 7 months since we received salaries. No one even cares to communicate when the money will be settled, yet we are expected to show up for training. It’s just sad,” she stated.

Official Responses

In response to these claims, KRU chairman Sasha Mutai acknowledged the delay but shifted responsibility for salaries to the director in charge of the Lionesses. The director, in turn, redirected inquiries back to the secretariat. Vice Chairman Moses Ndale admitted to the delay but disputed the extent, asserting that partial payments were made in December. Ndale emphasized the efforts to secure government support due to the lack of sponsors, stating, “We are also actively advocating for government support to alleviate the financial strain on the team.”

Public Outcry

The issue gained significant attention when Olympian and former Kenya Lionesses captain Sinaida Aura publicly criticized the KRU. Aura highlighted the persistent issue of unpaid allowances, which she encountered during her tenure. In a social media post, she condemned the lack of support and vision within the federation, attributing the problems to greed and selfishness.

Olympian and former Kenya Lionesses captain Sinaida Aura publicly criticized the KRU

“Decisions driven by greed, selfishness, and lack of vision are crippling the game, especially for women,” Aura wrote. She urged the KRU to address these longstanding problems before irreparably damaging the legacy built by dedicated players.

Moving Forward

Despite their financial struggles, the Lionesses have shown commendable resilience and dedication. However, the ongoing payment issues cast a shadow over their efforts. On May 12, 2024, it was reported that Africa Cup players received some payments, but not enough to cover all promised wages. The Kenya Rugby Union must take immediate action to resolve these financial problems and ensure that the players receive the compensation they rightfully deserve.

The situation of the Kenya Lionesses is a stark reminder of the challenges faced by women in sports, who often endure financial instability while striving for excellence. Addressing these issues is not just about fairness; it is essential for the growth and development of rugby in Kenya. The KRU must prioritize the welfare of its players and provide them with the support they need to continue representing the country with pride.

The fight for financial justice continues for the Lionesses. Their determination and passion for the sport are unwavering, and they deserve better from the governing bodies that should support and uplift them. The time for change is now, and the Kenya Rugby Union must rise to the occasion and fulfill its obligations to these dedicated athletes.

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