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Unpaid Kenya Sevens players make desperate plea

NEWS: Kenya’s Rugby Sevens launched a public appeal for donations on Sunday, claiming the team has not been paid in months and players badly needed money ahead of several international matches.

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A number of Shujaa stars shared the fundraiser on social media and described a “desperate situation” in which players were eating into their savings to cover daily costs.

“As some of you may have heard we are now going on our third month without pay,” the Shujaa’s centre Willy Ambaka posted on Twitter.

“Our lives and those of our loved ones have been greatly strained, even in our persistent effort to give you the desired outcomes on the pitch.”

The appeal comes as Kenya prepares for the Dubai Sevens series on December 2-3 and the Cape Town fixture on December 9-11.

“We are struggling but we have to represent you people at the Dubai and Capetown Legs,” Billy Odhiambo posted on Twitter.

Kenya head coach Damian McGrath spoke of his team’s financial woes in October ahead of their departure for the Hong Kong Sevens where they lost every match.

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The team were “fighting to find a field we can train in” and lacked a proper gym let alone the support and amenities enjoyed by their global competitors.

“I knew life wasn’t going to be straightforward here in Kenya but I had no idea that these last couple of months would be so difficult,” said the Englishman who signed a two-year contract with Kenya in May.

“They’re so proud to represent the country, they push themselves hard, and yet they can’t always get to train because they don’t have the money to get here.”

Nairobi senator Edwin Sifuna pledged 100,000 Kenyan shillings ($820) to the Shujaa and assured help was on the way with the issue being raised in parliament last week.

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“We are proud of the work you are doing despite the difficulties,” he said on Twitter on Sunday.

Kenya Sevens have struggled to attract sponsorship and it is not the first time the side have been strapped for cash.

The team publicly protested against unpaid salaries in 2018 during the World Rugby Sevens Series in Paris, prompting the government to withdraw its sponsorship deal for the team.

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