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Tanzania’s Simba sweating on Kahata, Kagere availability for league restart

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NAIROBI, Kenya, May 22 – Tanzanian Premier League runaway leaders Simba SC are sweating on the availability of two of their key players, Meddie Kagere and Francis Kahata, ahead of the proposed league restart next month.

The two former Gor Mahia striking stalwarts as well as Zambian Clatous Chama and Sudanese midfielder Eldin Shaiboub returned to their respective countries after the Tanzanian league was halted in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, President John Magufuli announced that he will allow sports to resume from June 1 and the league management has already started plans to draft the fixtures for the rest of the season.

But, Simba risk being without Kagere and Kahata with Rwanda and Kenya having set up tough border rules. President Uhuru Kenyatta last week announced that border movement in and out of the country from all border points has been ceased.

Francis Kahata celebrates a goal with Simba SC teammate Meddie Kagere. PHOTO/Goal

“I have talked to the club’s management as late as yesterday and I told them the situation here. I have also had a chat with Meddie and he told me it is the same in Rwanda as well so for us, it is going to be a bit difficult to travel back for the restart, until at least June 6 when we know the way forward,” Kahata told Capital Sport.

The midfielder has also stated that he is ready to fly back or even travel by road to Tanzania once the border is opened, but only if he is assured of his safety at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is hitting sky figures in the region.

“I know for Simba it might be easy to manage the situation because we have a club house and we might all stay there as a team in a camp-like set up. But to be honest, I am a bit scared because I have a family and with all the travelling, I wouldn’t want to be back transmitting the virus to them,” he states.

Francis Kahata in action during a past Simba SC match. PHOTO/Goal

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Adding; “But I got assurances from the CEO that everything will be worked on okay and we will wait. There is no real big pressure at the moment because we are leading with a good margin and a win in the next four matches will see us champions.”

Simba lead the Tanzanian top tier standings with 71 points, 17 ahead of second placed Azam FC and 20 infront of arch rivals Yanga, with 10 rounds of matches remaining.  They only need to win four matches and draw one to attain an unassailable lead in the standings and be declared champions.

Kagere hopes that he can be part of at least the last few matches, now that it looks highly unlikely he will be part of the restart on Madaraka Day.

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Francis Kahata celebrates a goal with Simba SC teammates during a past match. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

“It is such a good feeling to win a league title in a second different country. It is such a huge thing in Tanzania and the fans really take it seriously and I would want to be part of that carnival and celebration. Hopefully, even if I don’t get to play the first few matches, I can be part towards the end and lift the trophy with the team,” the midfielder added.

Kahata has scored six goals and provided an equal number of assists for Simba since joining from Gor Mahia at the start of the current season.

He has grown on to become an integral part of Wekundu wa Msimbazi, forming a neat partnership with Kagere with whom they caused terror in the Kenyan league while they played together at Gor.

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Ministry sets up team to prepare for sports resumption in the country

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 2 – The Ministry of Sports has set up a team led by Principal Secretary Joe Okudo to prepare for resumption of sports activities in the country once the COVID-19 situation is dealt with, Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has stated.

Sports activities were halted in the country in March with all public facilities closed as the country battled to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

And with European countries and a section of African nations slowly starting to open up their spaces for resumption of sports though under strict guidelines, Kenya has not been left behind with the Ministry constituting a machinery.

“We have constituted a team to look at it and they will be advising on when to open. The team is led by the PS and of course working closely with the Ministry of Health so that we ensure when we return we do so within safe parameters,” CS Amina said on Tuesday.

While all football league seasons have been cancelled, there is hope for some other sports. In rugby, the Kenya Cup was headed to the play-off stage and despite an earlier decision by the Union to cancel the season, clubs appealed and the decision was lifted.

The men and women hockey leagues were just getting started while the basketball league had been scheduled to start in April. In Athletics, the track season had just gunned off and last week, Athletics Kenya said they would be consulting with the government to set up a new calendar.

Kenya is set to host its first ever event since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic on June 11 when five athletes, anchored by 1500m World Champion Timothy Cheruiyot will compete against the Norwegian Ingebrigtsen brothers in a virtual race.

The Norwegian contingent will run in Oslo while Cheruiyot’s team will run at the Nyayo National Stadium where they have been training for the past one week.

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Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa and Tunisia are among the first African countries to announce plans to resume sports with the COVID-19 situation slowly losing pace.

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Sports CS AMina Mohamed with Care Package founder Jackie Jan Mohamed

Amina spoke at the Nyayo National Stadium as she helped distribute food packages to women athletes from football, cricket, rugby and the Paralympics in partnership with Care Package foundation, run by former Cricket Kenya chief Jackie Jan Mohammed.

“It relieves some of the challenges they were facing of trying to meet some basic needs and we have got some good response with people coming on board. We would like to reach about 1,800 who are most vulnerable and so far we have reached almost 1,000,” said CS Amina.

Meanwhile, Jan Mohamed said they hoped to be doing the exercise every two weeks depending on whether they get increased funding from their partners.

“When the ministry approached us about athletes, I couldn’t say no. Sports is a passion I have had for a long time. What I am looking at is, depending on funding, we might turn around and tell the ministry that every two weeks, we will meet these same athletes, until we fight COVID-19,” she stated.

At the same time, Amina says they will continue with distribution of the monthly stimulus package to sportspeople, having started off last week with the Kenyan premier League players.

Amina says that so far, 1,300 athletes have received their first share of the 10,000 stimulus with 600 more having benefited over the weekend.

“We have received very good feedback and we want to thank the President for launching this package,” Mohamed noted.

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1,800 athletes to get government upkeep package

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By AYUMBA AYODI

The Sports Ministry is targeting 1,800 sportsmen and women in its Covids-19 financial stimulus package and food distribution across the country.

Sports cabinet secretary Amina Mohammed disclosed Tuesday that by last weekend, they had reached out to 600 sportsmen and women, who have received Sh10,000 each and food packages.

Amina rolled out the stimulus package last week with 12 Kenyan Premier League clubs being the first to benefit from the initial release of Sh20 million stimulus. The government has set aside Sh50 million to cushion sportsmen and women from Covid-19 effects. 

Amina was speaking when she presided over the distribution of food packages by Care Package Organisation to 200 sportswomen drawn from six disciplines at the Nyayo National Stadium.  

Amina, who commended Care Package and their other partners for the initiative, said they have so far received supporting totaling Sh 20 million from the private and public sectors towards the Covid-19 athletes support program.

“We shall continue with these initiatives until Covid-19 eases and the sporting calendar reopens,” said Amina, who was accompanied by Sports Principal Secretary Joe Okudo and Care Package founder Jackie Janmohammed.

Also present were Kenya Rugby Union (chairman) Oduor Gangla and National Paralympic Committee of Kenya president, Agnes Oluoch.

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Among the sportswomen who benefited were from Kenya Lionesses, Harambee Starlets, national cricket team, national deaf team and Paralympics.

“The packages could be small but we hope it will cushion them for some days and it’s my hope that more partners will come on board,” said Janmohammed, who was among Kenyans who were conferred with the Wazalendo Award on Madaraka Day by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Janmohammed said she would like all the athletes in the program to be receiving the food packages after every two weeks until Covid-19 is eradicated and the sporting calendar resumes.

“That will depend on how much funds are raised and I believe in sustainability. This shouldn’t be a one-off affair,” said Janmohamed adding that they have also reached out to 6,000 families in the last two months.

Gangla commended Care Package initiative and the government’s stimulus package that have seen the national team players benefiting. 

“Most of these players derive their livelihood from rugby and that has been disrupted. Every one of them is fighting to make ends meet,” said Gangla, who also thanked cubs that are supporting their respective players at these difficult times.

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FA unlikely to take action over peaceful anti-racism protests

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LONDON, United Kingdom, Jun 2Premier League players are unlikely to face disciplinary action if they take a knee or make any other peaceful anti-discrimination protest when the English season resumes.

The shocking death of George Floyd, killed when a white police officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck in Minneapolis last week, has provoked riots and protests across the world.

Football stars, including Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, have shown support for the Black Lives Matter cause during matches.

The English Football Association will adopt a “common sense” approach to political gestures, slogans and statements if players or staff publicly back the movement once the Premier League restarts on June 17.

It is understood taking the knee after a goal, as Borussia Monchengladbach forward Marcus Thuram did on Sunday, would be unlikely to attract any sort of sanction.

“The FA strongly condemns discrimination of any kind and has endeavoured to ensure that football in England is both diverse and inclusive in recent years,” an FA statement said on Tuesday.

“Where any behaviours or gestures on the pitch that may constitute a breach of the Laws of the Game have to be assessed, they would be reviewed on a case by case basis with a common sense approach and understanding of their context.”

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Following the example of Liverpool on Monday, Chelsea and Newcastle players were the latest teams to take a knee in a show of solidarity during training sessions on Tuesday.

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Newcastle defender DeAndre Yedlin, a United States international, posted a series of heartfelt tweets on the situation.

“A couple days after George Floyd’s death, my grandfather texted me and told me he’s glad that I am not living in the U.S. right now because he would fear for my life as a young black man,” he wrote.

“Every American needs to ask themselves, is there ‘liberty and justice for all’ and if their answer is yes, then they are part of the problem.

“In no way are we asking black lives to matter more than white lives. All we’re asking is we are seen as equal, as more than 3/5 of a man, as humans.”

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