03 August 2013

KENYA : Players eligibility rocks USIU Flames in Burundi

  • Confusion and anxiety has marred the United States International University- Africa, USIU-A, ladies team in Bujumbura, Burundi over the eligibility of their foreign players to participate in the Zone V qualifiers that begin on Monday.
    FIBA rules allow any single team to field not more than two foreign players and USIUs situation is complicated by the fact that seven of their players are not Kenyans.
    Sarah Chan (South Sudan), Jane Lamba (Tanzania), Diane Richesse (Rwanda) and Burundian quartet of Magnifique Magnifique, Ghyslaine Uwimama, Marlen Bukuru and Cynthia Irankunda play for the team in the local league.
    However, it is Uwimama, Diane and Magnifique who are at the center of controversy after a Burundian club, Les Gazelles, complained to FIBA-Africa over their eligibility.
    In their complaint, the club claimed that the trio played for them before coming to Kenya thus cannot represent USIU at the tourney.
    Les Gazelles will represent Burundi at the qualifiers. Head coach George Mayienga says that cannot be a reason enough to bar them because they did not sign them from the Burundian side.
    “When these players joined us from Western Delight this season, we did not know about their playing for the said club. Actually, they studied at a school in Kakamega.”
    USIU await FIBA clearance
    Owing to this confusion, USIU was forced to travel with all their players to Burundi on Tuesday awaiting clearance from FIBA.
    However, the matter had not been resolved by Saturday putting their preparations into disarray.
    Mayirnga did not travel with the rest of the team as he was left behind to sort out the issue but nothing material had come up by his departure on Friday.
    “The team manager left with the team to handle the matter from the other end but as of now, I cannot say who will play and who will not play,” observed a concerned Mayienga.
    With only a day to kick off, USIU is yet to name their final twelve players who will take part in the tournament. The team had gotten in touch with FIBA a month ago through the Kenya Basketball Federation over the same issue but they did not reply.
    “USIU is an international institution and we cannot deny talented students from joining our sports program. We had hoped for FIBA to consider that and allow us field more foreign players but they did not respond to our letter.”
    The team’s management is now crossing their fingers for a speedy solution before Monday when the tournament proper begins.
    In case they fail to get their way, they will have no option but use local players only. Such a situation would affect their campaign negatively because most of their colorful players in the league are the foreigners.
    Without their input then it will be a tall order for the varsity side at their first regional tourney.
    The other Kenyan representative, Eagle Wings, is expected to leave for Burundi on Sunday but that remains uncertain.
    Team manager Nelly Odera said they require close to Ksh.3 Million for the trip which has not been forthcoming.
    “We have been engaging few sponsors and we will get to know the real position very soon.”
    Wings, who are the Zone V defending champions, might be slapped with a fine in case they fail to honour the qualifiers.

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