Why Shujaa and Lionesses missed Dubai Invitational tournament ahead of Olympics


RUGBY Why Shujaa and Lionesses missed Dubai Invitational tournament ahead of Olympics

Festus Chuma 11:00 - 02.12.2023

Shujaa withdrew from the Dubai Invitational Tournament on Thursday, casting doubt on their Olympic preparations due to undisclosed challenges.

Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) announced on Thursday that the men's national rugby sevens team had to withdraw from the highly anticipated Dubai Invitational Tournament scheduled for this weekend.

Shujaa's absence from the prestigious event has left fans and rugby enthusiasts puzzled, but the underlying reasons behind this decision are now coming to light.

Kenya had secured their spot at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games by defeating the formidable Blitzboks in the African Cup qualifiers.

However, despite this remarkable achievement, the team finds itself on an uncertain path as they prepare for the Olympics, and it seems that financial challenges lie at the heart of their withdrawal from the Dubai tournament.

While KRU did not provide a specific explanation for the team's withdrawal, it has long grappled with a shortage of sponsorship and funds, making it increasingly challenging to support the national rugby sevens program effectively.

This financial struggle has now manifested itself in Shujaa's absence from the Dubai Invitational Tournament, casting a shadow over their preparations for the Olympics.

Many fans and supporters had been seeking an explanation for this unexpected turn of events.

It has now been revealed that the Ministry of Sports took a significant step one month ago by temporarily suspending funding for non-priority international sports competitions and programs.

This decision comes in line with an order from President William Ruto, aiming to curtail unnecessary expenditure.

"In view of the foregoing, we wish to notify you that the Ministry has suspended funding of non-priority sports competitions/programs with immediate effect," the Ministry stated in a letter seen by Pulse Sports.

The Ministry clarified that funding priority would be reserved for teams with a high likelihood of qualifying for prestigious competitions such as the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics, World Championships, and the African Games in 2023.

Additionally, consideration would be given to sportsmen and women participating in the East African Community Games 2023, CECAFA 2023, CHAN 2025, and AFCON 2027.

In the absence of government funding, the Ministry urged sports federations to seek financial support from corporate sponsors and partners.

This directive has left Shujaa and other non-priority sports programs in a challenging predicament, as they now rely on external support to continue their activities and participation in international tournaments.

The Dubai Invitational Tournament, where Kenya would have competed, is considered a second-tier competition, running parallel to the main SVNS tournament in which the Blitzboks participate.

Typically, international sides send their emerging talent to play for either their national teams or invitational teams in this tournament.

Despite this setback, Kenya's national rugby sevens team will still have opportunities to showcase their talent on the international stage.

They will participate in the newly established Challenger Series after being relegated to the second tier due to the series being reduced to 12 teams.

 Follow the Pulse Sports Kenya WhatsApp Channel for more news.