On Thursday night while burning the midnight oil at the office, I received an interesting text message from a certain Joel Andanje.
“Heading to Kampala for the East Africa Skating Championships. Pray for Journey mercies,” the message read.
My acquaintance Andanje is a self-made skating coach, who also holds the position of Head of Freestyle Skating in the Rollersport Kenya Federation.
We didn’t touch base again until Tuesday afternoon when Andanje called and requested me to return his call. But for some strange reason, when I tried calling back, his phone went answered.
Then on Wednesday morning I got another text from Andanje explaining his predicament. Apparently, the Kenyan contingent got stranded in Kampala soon after the championship concluded on Saturday.
In his own words, Andanje explained that the Ugandan Skating Federation reneged on their assurance to foot the Kenyan team’s accommodation and meals ostensibly after losing out on the skating course.
In the end, it took the benevolence of Kampala Coach who obliged to ferry the skaters back home even though the team was short of a whopping Sh 19,000.
I eventually got to speak Andanje late on Wednesday evening shortly after the team of 26 skaters arrived in Nairobi, thankfully in one piece.
In this age and time, do such things still happen? Our skaters tribulations across the border reminded me of one poignant incident way back in 2006 when former top tier league side Shabana got ‘stuck’ in the coastal city of Mombasa after playing a league match against Dubai Bank.
The story has it that the Kisii side started their journey to the Coast on a Friday but failed to make it in good time after their bus broke down somewhere along the way.
Somehow, the travelling party arrived in Mombasa on Saturday morning after a labourous overnight journey and headed straight to Bamburi Portland Cement ground for the match. As it were, the fatigued team suffered a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of host team.
But that was just the beginning of their troubles. Having run out of cash, the players wondered aimlessly like vagabonds in the streets of Mombasa.
It was by pure luck when they bumped on a sympathetic patron in some seedy food kiosk who catered for their meals for the night. With nowhere to go, the team spent the next twenty four hours in the rat hole of an accommodation spending their nights either on the concrete floor or on the tables after close of business.
Eventually, word reached an official of Dubai Bank FC who bailed out the team after some 48 hours in hell. It all made for a very pitiful story. Sadly, that marked the beginning of the end for once vibrant Shabana FC.