Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta today at State House, Nairobi witnessed the disbursement of over Shs 181 million to Kenya’s elite athletes, to complete a process of compensating the champions since 2010.
A total of 3338 athletes received the cash awards for participating in 32 international sporting events covering Olympics, Commonwealth Games, World Championships and the World Under 18 and Under 20 junior competitions.
The money to compensate the athletes was drawn from the National Sports Fund.
Besides the prize money, the President gave the athletes an additional Shs 2 million token of appreciation.
World beaters Geoffrey Kamworor (the world half marathon champion), Beatrice Chepkoech (world steeplechase record holder) and Alphas Kishoyian (400m gold medallist) received the cheque on behalf of their colleagues, some of whom are out of the country for international competitions.
President Kenyatta gave the Ministry of Sports three months to come up with a practical compensation policy for athletes who “bring pride and glory” to the country through their stellar performances in international competitions.
“Moving forward, I am directing the Ministry to formulate a realistic compensation policy for all athletes and launch it within 3 months,” said President Kenyatta
The President further directed that all Kenyan sportsmen going for international competitions must be fully catered for before departing the country.
Through the National Sports Fund, the President reiterated that all sportsmen representing the country in international tournaments will be fully facilitated covering provision of kits, tickets, accommodation and allowances.
On Thursday, the Head of State hosted Harambee Stars, at State House, Nairobi before their departure for training and friendly matches in France ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt.
President Kenyatta congratulated the Ministry of Sports for ensuring that the national football team received the over Shs 244 million they needed to facilitate AFCON preparations.
The President said Kenya should never again suffer the embarrassment and shame of its high achieving sportsmen being stranded at international airports for lack of money.
He said sportsmen and women should receive their reward money immediately upon return when handing back the Kenyan flag, which they normally receive from the Head of State before departure.
President Kenyatta said the issue of compensation for athletes had bothered him for a long time.
“Whenever we hand over the flag to you before you depart for international competitions, we make promises to reward you, but when you return, there is nothing. But now under the National Sports Fund, there is something for you when you return,” the President said.
The President said only men and women of integrity will be allowed to manage the National Sports Fund and thanked the current board among them former Vice President Moody Awori for ensuring that all resources are put to good use.
The ceremony was attended by over 140 athletics stakeholders led by Sports CS Amina Mohammed.
Others were elite athletes and officials of Athletics Kenya led by their President Lt General (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei who doubles up as chairman of the National Sports Fund.