Uhuru: We’ll pay world-beating Kenya 7s stars
President Uhuru Kenyatta has pledged to clear the national Sevens team’s salaries and bonuses up to June.
In a meeting with the players at State House, Nairobi, on Thursday evening, the President promised the team Sh30 million before the end of the month.
Head coach Benjamin Ayimba did a splendid job, enumerating to the President the players’ financial issues.
The President, however, declined to order a waiver on tax for the players, saying that not only does he not have the power under the constitution, but that he too pays taxes.
Turning to deputy coach Paul ‘Pau’ Murunga, the President said: “Only these guys are tax-exempt…” drawing roars of laughter.
Murunga is serving in the Kenya Defence Forces. When he joined the class of ‘86, which was captained by Jackson Omaido, he spoke passionately about the need to develop grassroots youth structures countrywide.
“If these guys can do what they did in Singapore after only taking up the sport in high school, imagine what we can achieve, if the game is actively played in primary schools, like in South Africa, England and New Zealand,” Kenyatta said.
He gave his personal and administration’s commitment to support the sport spread at the grassroots, pledging to back whatever initiatives the retired internationals will begin. Also at State House was Kenya Airways Director Alban Mwendar. Mwendar was a founder member of Damu Pevu, a group of former students of Kenyatta University who laid down rugby structures in upcountry schools where they were sports tutors.
Mwendar started the initiative with, among others, Pecos Onyango, Job Owino, Ntarangwi Mwenda, Frank Ngaruiya, Fred Ludenyi, Simon Munayi, Obi Obyero-Odhiambo and Max Muniafu. Ayimba is a product of the Damu Pevu system from Maseno School.
The President also had a chat with Omaido. At his peak, Omaido was rated the finest African rugby player on the globe outside South Africa, which was still under apartheid rule.
A brilliant, multi talented, utility player, Omaido was awesome in defence and devastating in attack.
He could play with distinction in 10 out of 15 positions, except as a front five. He captained Kenya 7s, 15s, East Africa and Watembezi. Omaido could have walked into the All Blacks team or British Lions and held his own.
In 1990 when this rugby warhorse retired, top United Kingdom rugby league club Leeds made two signings that made global sporting headlines: All Black full back John Gallagher and Kenyan wing man Edward Rombo, then 22.