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By PHILIP ONYANGO
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Kenya secondary schools with international students are bound to suffer most during school games following the decision by the Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) to restrict the number of foreign students to three per discipline during their competitions.

According to the new rules, schools will only be required to field two of the three foreign players at any given time, a move KSSSA member Twaha Mwatsahu says is aimed at giving Kenyan youth an opportunity to showcase their talents.

Mwatsahu says the decision to restrict the number of foreign players at school games was supported and unanimously agreed at the KSSSA full council and later ratified by the KSSSA executive meeting in Eldoret last year and will take effect this year.

Mwatsahu, who is also the Coast Secondary Secondary Sports Association treasurer and Principal of Ngomeni Secondary in Malindi, said KSSSA had to bow down to pressure from sponsors, who were not happy with the high influx of foreigners mostly from Southern Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania in basketball and rugby games in particular, a majority of whom investigations revealed were not genuine students.

“KSSSA came up with strict rules to govern the school games, among them age limit and six-year rule for one to be legible to play at the school games. Most schools could not manage with the local players whose details could be readily available at the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) or the Registrar of Persons locally and this prompted the schools who were hell bent to win to recruit foreign students”, Mwatsahu said giving an example of St Georges High School of Kilifi and Laiser Hill Academy of Kajiado who were banned for fielding Tanzania University students in school games in Coast region and Nairobi region respectively three years ago. The bans have since been lifted.

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“I put a lot of pressure on KSSSA to follow international rules by reducing the number of foreign players who had taken over school games especially in basketball and rugby. Am happy that at last our cries as sponsors have been heard because it was not making sense that we were spending a lot of money sponsoring games with a target of developing Kenyan youth but it turned out to be benefiting foreigners”, Brookside Dairy Marketing manager Peter Wasonga, the KSSSA term one games official sponsors said on Tuesday.

Wasonga said limiting the number of foreign students will allow more Kenyan youth to participate in the school games and thus help in the growth of sports locally.

Mwatsahu is therefore advising schools that offer scholarships to foreign students alone to consider local students whom he says need it more than this foreign students most of whom surface during the sports season and disappear immediately after the school games.

“Our investigations have revealed that most of this foreign students who join some of our schools specifically for basketball and rugby disappear immediately after the championships are over which makes us believe that they are never students in the first place”, he said adding that if the Kenyan youth don’t play, it will break the conveyor belt of talent to clubs and national teams.

Federation of International Basketball Association (Fiba) rules only allow two foreign players per club in their tournaments while African football governing body (Caf) allow only five foreign players per club in all competitions.

During last year’s championships, Laisier Hill Academy, Upper Hill school, Kapenguria boys are some of the schools that had many foreign students in their roster with some schools having only one Kenyan in their list.



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