Rugby

Simbas land sponsorship ahead of travel to France

Kenya Simbas players and coach Paul Odera receive the sponsorship cheque
  • The government backed down from sponsoring the team due to unavailability of funds
  • They have received a Sh10mn sponsorship from Hildana Lodge
  • The team departs for France early Wednesday morning

The national rugby 15s team, Kenya Simbas has received a financial boost of 10million shillings from Hildana Lodges through their company Teita Sisal Estate to boost their preparations for this weekend’s 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers.

The team had been in financial straits since the government informed them they didn’t have any budgetary allocation to finance their trip to France, where the African qualifiers for the 2023 World Cup will be held.

And now, Hildana, who also sponsored the Under-20 team, Chipu, to the 2019 Junior World Trophy tournament in Brazil have come through for them.

The connection was achieved through Jimmy Munene, an employee at the company who also happens to be in rugby circles and was Chipu’s Team Manager in 2019.

“It’s an honour to partner with the Kenya Simbas and the KRU. The investment to the sport has really grown in terms of the partnership between us and the Union. We hope that what we have invested in the team will boost them as they look to qualify for the first time ever,” Munene said on Tuesday afternoon as he handed the sponsorship package to the Union bosses, led by Oduor Gangla.

Air tickets and allowances

Kenya Simbas receive their sponsorship cheque

The money will be vital for the Simbas to offset several bills including air tickets as well as allowances. Gangla says that they have already spent close to Sh50mn on the team mostly during the Currie Cup tour in South Africa while a further Sh22mn was needed for the trip to France.

“I am very grateful to Teita Sisal Estate and the Hildana Lodge for this sponsorship. It has been a very difficult journey. I thank Teita for coming through for this final leg. Without them we would have been in a very difficult spot. This money goes to real expenses that the team needs,” Gangla said.

Head coach Paul Odera says he is excited with the sponsorship coming in for the Simbas and thanked Hildana for their support.

“It is truly humbling when people make a commitment to support their team on this journey. The relationship with Hildana started in 2019. We formed a group called the Friends of Simbas and their commitment has been that Kenya qualifies for the World Cup. These are very committed people who are always willing to support the team,” said Odera.

Odera named a 28-man team last Friday that heads out to France on Wednesday morning ahead of their opening match against neighbours Uganda on Saturday in the quarter finals. A win for the Simbas will hoist them into the semis and coach Odera says they target to go all the way to the final.

Target to qualify 

Kenya Simbas players during a training session

Our aim is to qualify for the World Cup for the first time ever. It will not be easy, but we are confident and very clear that if we play according to how we have prepared, this team has the ability to contest with the best teams from the African continent,” said Odera.

The Simbas have never qualified for the World Cup and the closest they came was in 2014 when they lost by a point to Zimbabwe.

The two victories against Currie Cup opponents in Nairobi will be the confidence boosting catalyst the team needs ahead of the competition.

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