Kenya Rugby League Federation is aiming to achieve IRL Full Membership by 2025 and develop a professional competition in the near future after being awarded Affiliate Membership at last week’s IRL Board meeting in Singapore.
Kenya is the fastest developing nation in the Middle East-Africa [MEA] region and has competitions involving eight men’s teams, five women’s teams and six youth teams, with the game spread across five regions.
The KRLF’s elevation from Observer status to Affiliate Membership also recognises the competence and capacity of the organisation to send a team to last year’s MEA Championships and host regional technical courses.
In a boost to the strength of the MEA region, Kenya now joins Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco and Nigeria as IRL Affiliate Members, while Lebanon and South Africa hold Full Member status.
KRLF Chair Richard Nyakwaka said: “The promotion in IRL membership demonstrates the sacrifices, hard work and commitment from the Kenya rugby league fraternity in developing rugby league in Kenya and becoming an inspiration to other countries in Africa.
“This opens great opportunities to host international fixtures that will include age, grade and women, and give our players platforms to compete in world class rugby league.
“It also sets Kenya on the pathway to develop an inclusive professional rugby league in the near future.”
Affiliate Membership requires a national federation to stage a domestic championship with at least four participating teams, have begun junior development, put certified coaches and match officials in place, and to have played at least one senior international match for world ranking points.
Off the field, the federation is expected to demonstrate financial sustainability and have a strategy to continue growth, as well as demonstrating adherence to good governance through the annual membership audit.
In just two years as a national federation, Kenya has impressed with the size and scale of their domestic competition structure, together with hosting of a technical education event in 2022 which saw delegates attend week-long activity from across the MEA region.
They have also established a link with Leeds Rhinos through their Foundation, which sees the Super League club undertake a weekly on-line course with a group of coaches who are to set up academies in the regions.
MEA regional director Remond Safi said: “I have been working closely with KRLF to ensure that their strategy and efforts are channelled towards achieving Affiliate Membership status.
“There is a lot of ambition in the nation and I am pleased that the KRLF have been able to move to this milestone so quickly and I’m sure with this amount of passion for the game’s development and growth their Full Membership will be another milestone sooner than expected.”