WC 2003 - Pledges
Published: Thursday, March 13, 2003, 17:45 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
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Nairobi: Kenya's Sports Minister Najib Balala said on Wednesday the government will strive to entrench cricket in the country after the Kenyan cricket team beat Zimbabwe to qualify for the World Cup semi-finals in South Africa."The Kenyan cricket team has proved to the world that it is able to participate and win a non-traditional sport," Balala told."The sport is now going to be introduced in the whole country," he added, clearly elated at the Kenyan success.Kenya bagged four points when New Zealand, citing security concerns, boycotted a match against Kenya in Nairobi last month.The East Africans earlier beat Sri Lanka and Bangladesh."We are very proud of the Kenyan team. It has inspired the whole country to be proud of being a Kenyan," said Balala.He said he and possibly Vice-President Michael Kijana Wamalwa will lead a group of Kenyans fans to cheer their team when it meets India in the semi- final."I will be attending the semi-finals against India in South Africa and most probably alongside Wamalwa," he said.He said he was optimistic that the Kenyans will make it into the finals.The Kenya Cricket Association (KCA) was bowled over."A lot of analysts should eat their words because we have proved ourselves no matter how small we may be," said KCA chairman Jimmy Rayani."It is a great moment for team sport in Kenya. It's unbelievable that in only a month our boys have transformed the sport into such high status," he added.He criticised the International Cricket Council (ICC) for giving Kenya little financial support, saying it was time Kenya was accorded Test status."The ICC should sit back and answer why we are still being treated as a small nation. We should be considered for Test and the ICC would be doing fair in increasing the funding to the KCA so that we can take the game to other parts of the country," said Rayani.President Mwai Kibaki congratulated the team for its win over Zimbabwe."The win by the Kenyan side was a reflection of the team's determination to take their place in international cricket," said Kibaki in a statement."I am following the team's performance with keen interest and I wish them good luck as they embark on the remaining matches," he added.