The National Paralympic Committee (NPC-Rwanda) has threatened to sue Kenya ParaVolleyball Federation over unpaid dues from this year’s African ParaVolleball Championships – held in Kigali in September.
The development was confirmed to Times Sport by former NPC Rwanda president, Celestin Nzeyimana, who was the head of the competition’s local organising committee.
The debt amounting to $26,250 – about Rwf24 million – resulted from their non-paid participation fee and hotel accommodation. The Kenyan men and women’s teams comprised a combined total of 35 delegates.
The continental showpiece also served as qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
NPC-Rwanda says that a delegation of 18 members of the women’s team arrived in Kigali on September 13 and, like the other participating teams, were supposed to pay each $750 before checking-in the hotel, at Classic Hotel.
When asked to pay, an official of the team promised that the person with the money was due to arrive in the country the next day and the payment would be made. However, that person never surfaced.
NPC-Rwanda further notes that until September 18, the departure day, the team had not paid the dues and, instead, checked out of the hotel and went to the Kenyan Embassy in Kigali.
“The same happened with the men’s team which arrived on September 14 at Nyabugogo bus station without prior notice, 3 days before the planned arrival date,” said Nzeyimana.
The men’s team had not organized their transport nor booked a hotel. As the host federation, NPC Rwanda made quick arrangements to find them a nearby guest house before moving to the hotel (the Mirror Hotel) on September 17.
On September 18, during the event’s Technical Meeting with all invited team delegations, the issue of Kenya’s non-payment was raised. Kenya was given one hour to solve their problem otherwise they would not be allowed to play.
However, they were allowed to participate at the last minute after the organising committee had a discussion with the Kenyan Embassy and representatives of the Kenyan diaspora in Kigali, and signed an agreement that the payment was to be made not later than September 22.
The agreement letter, which this publication has since got a copy of, was on behalf of the Kenyan delegation signed by Polycarp Opiyo and Justus Katumo, Kenya ParaVolleyball Federation’s President and Secretary-General, respectively.
“We hereby commit to pay ourselves to pay in full the outstanding participation arrears to NPC-Rwanda for the Africa Sitting Volleyball Championships by the said (September 22, 2019) date,” reads part of the agreement.
However, Nzeyimana says, the payment was not remitted before or on the agreed date, and the men’s team also checked out of the hotel heading to the Kenyan Embassy where they stayed for a week before leaving the country.
When NPC Rwanda reached out to the Kenya Paralympic Committee, the response was, “We are not aware of anything about it but we promise to make a follow-up with the Sports Ministry.”
The Paralympic Committee further claims that their delegation did not communicate before traveling to Kigali, so the team was thought to be well equipped or supported by other sponsors.
Kenyan teams were on the brink of getting banned for three to four years by the Africa ParaVolleyball Federation had they failed to attend the games in Kigali.
Jean-Baptiste Murema, president of the NPC-Rwanda, revealed to Times Sport that “It is the second time that Kenyan teams cause such payment troubles. In 2017, an official to bring the money in the middle of the championships.”
Kenya’s women team left Kigali with a bronze medal, whereas their men’s side finished in fourth position.