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Simbas and Shujaa falter but Lionesses bask in African glory – PHOTOS

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By AYUMBA AYODI
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The 2017/2018 rugby season proved a roller-coaster for local fans, but the failure by the national team 15s team, Kenya Simbas, to qualify for the 2019 Japan Rugby World Cup left fans heartbroken.

Kenya Sevens blew hot and cold in their campaign at the San Francisco Rugby World Cup, and the World Sevens Series whose last leg in Paris saw Kenyan players stage a protest, ruining a rather good ending, the team having reached two Cup finals.

The incident might have cost Kenya Sevens head coach Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu his job. During his two-year tenure, Simiyu had battled player revolt, strikes and go-slows over pay.

Canada Sevens

Willy Ambaka (L) hugs Oscar Ouma and Billy Odhiambo of Kenya after scoring a try against Fiji during the gold medal game at Canada Sevens, the Sixth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series at the BC Place stadium Centre on March 11, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. PHOTO | BEN NELMS| GETTY IMAGES |AFP

However, women’s national sevens team, Kenya Lionesses, and Kenya Under-20 men’s team Chipu gave the country something to smile about.

The Lionesses won their maiden Africa Sevens title in Gaborone, ending South Africa dominance with Chipu finishing second in Southern Group, having lost to Namibia only after beating Madagascar and Zimbabwe.

Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) retained the Kenya Cup rugby league title unbeaten, becoming the first team to achieve the feat since 2011/2012 when Kenya Harlequin won the diadem.

Homeboyz claimed a double, winning the Enterprise Cup before recapturing the National Sevens Series for the team’s second Cup success.

University of Nairobi’s Mean Machine mastered the slippery field to beat fancied Menengai Oilers 10-5 and claim the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) Championship Cup, both teams earning promotion to the 2018/2019 Kenya Cup.

KCB rugby players celebrate after winning the Kenya Cup final against Kabras Sugar on March 24, 2018 at KCB Sports Club. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

KCB rugby players celebrate after winning the Kenya Cup final against Kabras Sugar on March 24, 2018 at KCB Sports Club. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |NATION MEDIA GROUP

Safari Sevens tournament may have made a return to its traditional venue of RFUEA grounds in November after seven-years period during which it was held at Nyayo National Stadium and Kasarani, but Kenya’s premier sevens rugby tournament struggled to attract teams and fans.

The tournament was marked by low attendance by fans and visiting teams, forcing organisers to reduce it to a 12-team, draw.

Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) fired Kenya Simbas coach, Jerome Paarwater, in December last year, the South African having handled the team since 2012.

Paawater also almost guided the Simbas to the 2015 Rugby World Cup, where the team failed to qualify on superior aggregate. Namibia got the nod during the 2014 qualifiers alongside automatic qualifiers South Africa.

Kenya Shujaa players celebrate with the runners-up trophy after losing 21-14 to Samurai International in the the 2018 Safari Sevens Main Cup final at the RFUEA Grounds on November 11, 2018. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kenya Shujaa players celebrate with the runners-up trophy after losing 21-14 to Samurai International in the the 2018 Safari Sevens Main Cup final at the RFUEA Grounds on November 11, 2018. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

KRU would appoint New Zealander Ian Snook as Kenya Simbas head coach, with his fellow countryman Murray Roulston as his deputy on March 19 this year.

Their first assignment was the Africa Gold Cup that doubled up as the 2019 Rugby World Cup Africa qualifier tournament from June 16 to August 18.

Kenya performed well but the journey to the 2019 Rugby World Cup again looked so near yet so far. The Simbas beat Morocco 28-24, overcame Zimbabwe 45-36, Uganda 38-22 and triumphed against Tunisia 67-0 to set up the final clash against champions Namibia.

In the end, it looked an easy hurdle to scale for Namibia, who won 53-28 to book their automatic ticket to the 2019 Rugby World Cup set for Japan.

After failing to qualify for the 2019 World Cup through the Africa Gold Cup, Simbas, who finished second, got another chance to try and qualify from the tough Repechage tournament held between November 11 to 23 in Marseille, France.

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Kenya Simbas coach Ian Snook looks on at the RFUEA ground on October 31, 2018 before their departure to France for the 2019 Rugby World Cup Repechage qualifiers slated for November 11 to 23. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Kenya Simbas coach Ian Snook looks on at the RFUEA ground on October 31, 2018 before their departure to France for the 2019 Rugby World Cup Repechage qualifiers slated for November 11 to 23. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |NATION MEDIA GROUP

Despite struggling to work on the players’ strength and conditioning aspects, Snook and Roulston, who had quit in a huff over unpaid dues, the Simbas suffered heavy losses in France, with lack of build-up matches compounding their misfortunes.

The Simbas only played one build-up match against Romania which they lost 36-6 just 10 days before the Repechage.

The only consolation for local fans was perhaps when Simbas won Elgon Cup, defeating Uganda Cranes on 72-38 on aggregate.

The Simbas won the first leg in Kampala 34-16, and took the second 38-22 in Nairobi, the match that counted for Gold Cup. The poor run by Simbas elicited calls for the revival of the Super Rugby Series, with other stakeholders calling for Kenya’s return to Vodacom Cup in South Africa.

Coming from the 2016/2017 season in which Kenya Sevens missed relegation from the World Rugby Series by a whisker after finishing 12th, Simiyu, who missed most of the key players owing to strikes over pay, had them back for the 2017/2018 season.

The team surpassed the 100 points mark, clocking 104 for the first time to finish eighth overall in the Series, reached all the main Cup quarterfinals with the exception of Cape Town and Paris Sevens.

The highlight of the season was when Kenya reached the Cup final in Canada Sevens and Hong Kong Sevens where they lost to giants Fiji in both occasions.

In Canada, Kenya beat England and United States 12-0 and 24-19 respectively on their way to the final, having lost to Fiji 24-21 in the pool stage. They would tame Scotland 19-12 before stunning New Zealand 21-12 to reach the Cup final in Hong Kong.

The team finished seventh in Dubai, Sydney, Las Vegas and Singapore, and won Challenge Trophy in London.

South Africa got to retain the Series with 182 points, having only won two legs in Dubai and Paris, beating Fiji to second place by two points despite winning five legs in Hamilton, Singapore and London in addition to Canada and Hong Kong.

There was drama in Paris when Kenya Sevens players concealed the logo of the team’s sponsor, and Brand Kenya message. Upon arrival from France, KRU sacked Simiyu just hours after Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala revealed that he had instructed Brand Kenya to cancel its eight-month Sh20million partnership with KRU.

The Union said it had mutually parted ways with Simiyu immediately the coach took full responsibility for the incident. Even though Simiyu was later reinstated after Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa intervened, Kenya Sevens was a pale shadow of the team that had reached the semi-finals of the two previous Rugby World Cup Sevens.

They finished a distant 15th at the San Francisco Rugby World Cup Sevens that ran from July 20-22 where New Zealand reigned supreme, beating England 33-12 to lift the title.

Simiyu’s job was advertised but he chose not to re-apply. Out went Simiyu, in came Paul “Pau” Murunga for the 2018/2019 season. The long-serving strength and conditioning coach Geoffrey Kimani, who had his job back, quit before the start of the 2018/2019 season.

A second-string Kenya Sevens team failed to reclaim Africa Sevens Cup, losing to Zimbabwe 17-5 in the final of the event held October 13-14.

Kevin “Bling” Wambua’s Kenya Lionesses lifted the Africa Women’s Sevens title, crashing regional arch-rivals Uganda 29-7 in the final on May 27 in Gaborone, Botswana.

The Lionesses had thrashed Zambia 42-5 in the quarterfinals and beat Madagascar 27-0 in semi-finals, while three-time finalists Uganda beat the 2012 champions Tunisia 10-5 in the semi-finals.

KCB stopped the 2016 champions Kabras Sugar 29-24 in the final on March 24 to not only defend the Kenya Cup title for their sixth Cup success but pulled through unbeaten, having topped the league in regular season.

The bankers had beaten Impala Saracens 15-0, while Kabras Sugar bundled out Homeboyz 29-13 all in the semi-finals.Homeboyz crashed Mwamba 28-0 to retain Great Rift 10-a-side on April 1 at Nakuru Athletics Club.

Homeboyz would then lift their maiden 15s title, beating Impala Saracens 21-3 and lift this year’s Enterprise Cup at the RFUEA ground on May 5.

Homeboyz had brought KCB’s three-year-reign to an end when they beat the bankers 12-10 in the semis.

Homeboyz would reclaim the Stanbic National Sevens Series title, beating Kenya Harlequin 24-19 to lift Christie Sevens on September 16.



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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