NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 17 – Kenya Sevens head coach Damian McGrath says he had never thought he would find himself doing more fundraising than coaching with the Shujaas since he took charge, due to the financial troubles that have rocked the side.
Just before the team left for the Dubai and Cape Town legs of the World Series, national team players stretched out begging bowls on social media asking for help to settle allowances, as they had not been paid for up to three months.
Shujaa boss McGrath, also joined in to ask his friends from abroad for help.
“I have been in Kenya for six months but it feels like six years. These last few months have been very difficult and I didn’t think I would spend more time fundraising than I did coaching,” the tactician stated.
With SportPesa coming on board as sponsors, the coach now hopes for brighter days ahead and he believes that at least the team can compete, not having to worry about the off field issues that have bedeviled their start to the season.
“With SportPesa now on board, the expectation is that we will now be paid our salaries on time and focus more on the rugby. This will now allow us to compete on equal footing with world series leaders,” added the tactician.
McGrath has now called on the Union to invest the Sh126mn from SportPesa well to invest in more facilities to enable the team perform at a high level.
“We are trying to compete on equal terms with countries with more resources and facilities which allow players to perform better. Look at KRU, we have a gym that is not even fit and a field that we can hardly use. If we can use the resources from Sportpesa well, we can improve our performance,” he added.
Shujaa have started the season poorly and have so far picked nine points in three legs. They had just a single point in Hong Kong, five in Dubai and three in Cape Town.
However, coach McGrath says that this performance has been purely down to the offield issues and not the quality of the team. He says the performances in the last two legs in Dubai and Cape Town were encouraging, saying they showed they can compete.
The extra push brought in by the financial injection, the coach says, will motivate them to do well in the remaining legs of the season and he says the target will be a top 10 finish.
“The series is strong now and we are trying to play catch up. Kenya has had a golden generation of players but there has been no development strategy and no plan. We are trying to move away from those. We have brought in some new players and this will be start of a changeover from players who have been in the group last two years,” he added.
The Series next heads to Hamilton, New Zealand from January 21-22 and the coach says he will have ample time to prepare the team, and has promised a better performance.