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TACKLING KENYAN

RUGBY A F R I C A’ S P R E M I E R O N L I N E M AG A Z I N E F O R P O S I T I V E E N T E R TA I N M E N T


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NERVE CENTER Management • Articles Ring Leader a.k.a Okwi Okoh Rubix a.k.a Jeri Furahah Admin • Logistics • Accounting • Marketing Iron Lady a.k.a Elsie Mwongeli Smooth Operator a.k.a Wycliffe Augustine Pied Piper a.k.a Gillian Ndeti Photography Sharp Shooter a.k.a Mwangi Kirubi Marksman a.k.a Wagema Munyori Web Management Spider a.k.a Wanja Ngunjiri Art Direction • Design & Layout Design Jockey a.k.a Vikki Keingati Arti San a.k.a Mark Muchura

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on the cover Final match of the Bamburi Rugby Super Series, played between The SDV Transami Cheetahs and The UAP Rhinos on May 23rd 2010. Snapped by SHARP SHOOTER

FROM THE RING LEADER THE RUGBY fever currently sweeping through Kenya has finally infected most members of the KWELI Nerve Center! That’s why we cleaned up over the past weekend, and headed for the landmark pitches on Nairobi’s Ngong Road for our very first taste of the Bamburi Rugby Super Series (BRSS), and to check out preparations for the upcoming Safaricom Sevens. It turned out to be some of the most fun we’ve had in a while! 2009 champions, the UAP Rhinos made history by becoming the first team in the history of the BRSS to successively defend their title against their rivals, the SDV Transami Cheetahs. Check out Sharp Shooter and Marksman’s great photos of the clash! We strongly believe that sports is one of the ways God can transform society. What better way is there of teaching young men and women about discipline, fair play, leadership, camaraderie, fitness and boundaries? Especially as positive role models are getting harder and harder to find? And that’s not even taking into account the numerous jobs that can be created by the sector; from the

dozens of cameramen that have been snapped up by Supersport, to catering companies and various other suppliers... Anyway, that’s why we’re keen to get more of you interested and involved in sports: whether you’re playing, supporting or just listening politely as your male friends or siblings brag about their exploits. We managed to arm-twist our friend and fellow media architect Nekesa Were, to join regular KWELI sports contributor Kenyatta Otieno in writing an article that not only gives us the background of the Safaricom Sevens, but also explores the interesting intersect between God and rugby. Nekesa and her husband Daudi are one of Kenyan rugby’s power couples and have helped organize major industry events. Our focus on rugby is just the beginning. We’ll be covering various high-profile sports matches, games and tournaments throughout the year, so we’d love to hear what you think and hope to see you on a bleacher, field or court somewhere soon ok? God Bless The Ring Leader

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TACKLING KENYAN

RUGBY KENYATTA OTIENO & NEKESA WERE WROTE IT, SHARP SHOOTER & MARKSMAN SNAPPED ‘EM, PUT TOGETHER BY DESIGN JOCKEY

| ISSUE | ISSUE | MAY kaKWELI 2 |2MAR - MAY 10 10 4 KWELI


NAIROBI is one of the

most prominent cities in Africa politically and financially. It is also a major international destination and a prominent social centre. With boundless energy coursing through its veins, Nairobi is the epicenter of everything fun and festive in Kenya and subsequently the home of one of the most regular and internationally recognized festivals hosted in Kenya; the Safari Sevens or Safaricom Sevens as it’s known now. >

www.kwelimag.com | ISSUE 2 | MAY 10 5


The Safaricom Sevens, touted as Africa’s premier 7-a-side rugby tournament, is a product of the Kenya Rugby Union and will be staged at the Rugby Football Union of East Africa (RFUEA) grounds on Ngong Road on the 4th, 5th and 6th of June this year. The tournament has grown immensely since its inception in 1996. I wonder what Chester Williams would think of it now? He is best known as the 6 kaKWELI | ISSUE 1 | MAY 10

star winger of the South African national ‘Springbok’ team that won the 1995 Rugby World Cup against New Zealand. Few people know that he was also the first-ever guest-of-honour of the Safari Sevens back in 1996. If he were to return for this year’s competition, one of the first things he would notice is the seating capacity at the RFUEA grounds. “The construction of new spectator stands by Kenya Rugby Union with

a seating capacity of 1,500 people is bound to make the Safaricom Sevens 2010 a much more comfortable and memorable experience for the supporters of Kenyan rugby. We continue to appreciate their support and look forward to making their experience during all rugby matches as comfortable as possible,” says Auka Gecheo, the general manager of the Kenya Rugby Union. >


Kampala Coach Victoria (in red) take on Kenya’s Lions (in green) in the Third Place match of the Bamburi Super Series on May 23, 2010. The Lions won 37-0.

...Safari

SEVENS is

fourteen YEARS old www.kwelimag.com | ISSUE 2 | MAY 10 7


Chester Williams would also notice that the tournament, which in its formative years mainly attracted touring sides like Bristol University Select and Public School Wanderers, now attracts national teams like Fiji, Samoa and France, not to mention formidable African sides like Tunisia, Morocco and South Africa. Interest from such great sides has no doubt been peaked by the outstanding performances of the Kenyan sevens team in recent years. In 2000, Kenya was placed second, after Zimbabwe, at the Rugby World Cup qualifiers after having trampled teams like Namibia and Tunisia along the way. This was the first time Kenya had qualified for the World Cup.

Sammy Khakame captained that team which managed to beat France during the 2001 Rugby World Cup Sevens held in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Other members of this team included Benjamin Ayimba, Felix Ochieng and Oscar Osir, the head coach, assistant coach and team manager respectively of the current national sevens team. The team also included Allan Hicks and Kanyi Gitonga - who now play for Nondescripts Rugby Football Club and Mitch Ocholla, the current coach of the national junior men’s squads. The national sevens team later managed a second successive appearance in the World Cup, making it to the 2005 World Cup hosted in Hong >

Kenya 8 kaKWELI | ISSUE 2 | MAY 10

made HISTORY at its

third

APPEARANCE


Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) cheerleaders at the Kenya Cup Finals on April 17, 2010. Kenya Harlequin pulled off an amazing comeback and won the cup

E at the Rugby

Kong, China after beating Namibia in the finals of the Southern Africa zone tournament in Lusaka, Zambia the previous year. Sadly, the team finished at the bottom of their pool. Ayimba, Osir and Ochieng retired from the game that year, giving way for a new generation of players. Kenya made history at it’s third appearance at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2009. They made it to the semifinals of that tournament and automatically earned a place at the 2011 Rugby World Cup sevens. The Safaricom Sevens has

always aimed to showcase sevens rugby in Kenya and give the local boys exposure to top class rugby teams. With none of the IRB (International Rugby Board) sevens legs held in Kenya, the Safaricom Sevens is the only chance that many Kenyan fans get to watch their heroes play. Collins Injera, the 2009 IRB top tryscorer, says players always look forward to playing in front of a home crowd. “For me, playing at the Safari Sevens has always been lovely because of the ecstatic crowds and how close the crowd is. You can literally high-five a fan after scoring! Of course playing at home comes with a lot of pressure because the crowd expects a win, but the best part is when you turn that >

World Cup Sevens in 2009. www.kwelimag.com | ISSUE 2 | MAY 10 9


pressure into motivation and play to win,” Collins told KWELI. He added that his faith in God has enabled him to do amazing things on the pitch and that’s why his favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13 which says, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Collins is right about the pressure. Teams like Namibia, Argentina and last year’s runner up, South Africa’s Emerging Springboks are highly rated and are hungry for glory this year. The guest of honour at this year’s tournament is Gordon Tietjens. He is the current coach of the New Zealand sevens team and is regarded as one of the most successful sevens coaches in the world.

10

The Sevens weekend also features tournaments for veterans, international schools and international women’s tournaments. While the veterans’ tournament gives former rugby players a chance to relive their leaner, meaner times, the schools’ and women’s tournaments provide players with a chance to gauge themselves against other teams; opportunities which do not come| ISSUE along2that often. > | MAY kaKWELI 10

The UAP Rhinos (in yellow) took on SDV Transami Cheetahs (in red) in the final match of the BRSS. The Rhinos defended their title successfully for the second year running by winning 25-5.


...his

faith in GOD has enabled him to do

amazing things on the PITCH...

www.kwelimag.com | ISSUE 2 | MAY 10 11


You will never realise the full potential of your gift until you know the Giver of the gift...and that is GOD...

Off the pitch, the Christian Rugby Players Fellowship will also be looking to make a major impact during the Safaricom Sevens. A good number of high-profile Kenyan rugby players like Allan Hicks, and Mwamba Rugby Football Club’s John Mbai, Steve Sewe and Lavin Asego are members of this fellowship. “You will never realise the full potential of your gift until you know the Giver of the gift... and that is God,” said Lavin Asego, who is the scrum half for the Kenyan national sevens team. The Rugby Players Fellowship has grown to thirty active members who meet three times a month at ‘Samba Park’, the home of Mean Machine Rugby Football Club. During their meetings, they play a light game of touch rugby and then share scripture and personal experiences. The Fellowship has now been registered

as a trust and their vision is to change the world of rugby for Christ. The Fellowship traditionally organizes a breakfast for members and players during the tournament which involves a lot of resource mobilisation. In addition, they partner with the management of the Serena Panafric Hotel, where many players stay, to use the hotel’s ballroom as a chapel so that players can pray and be ministered to at any time of the day. The Kenya Rugby Union also now reserves a tent for the Rugby Players Fellowship at the Safari Sevens village where they evangelise, counsel and give away Bibles. They’re trusting God for a rugby academy for the holistic development of players. They say they draw inspiration from 1 Timothy 4:8 that reads “physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way because it promises life

The family of the late Joshua Gathumbi receive his Impala RFC jersey. Gathumbi also played for Nguvu Sharks and the national sevens team. He died on May 18, 2010 at age 25. 12 KWELI | ISSUE 2 | MAR - MAY 10


No one could have imagined what a fanatical following Kenyan rugby would have - over one hundred years later. The national sevens team has put Kenya on the map

for all the

RIGHT reasons.

for both the present and the future.� For many players and fans, rugby is more of a religion than a sport with its own lifestyle, sub-culture and stereotypes. Last year, the Rugby Players Fellowship, through its founders, Kenya Harlequins players Kevin Asembo and Paul Omulokoli, managed to get Waisale Serevi, a Fijian rugby union footballer who is a committed Christian and widely considered the greatest rugby sevens player of all time, to visit and speak at the Nairobi Pentecostal Church. As a result Serevi and the Kenya Rugby Players Fellowship firmly sent a statement to the rugby fraternity that

they were playing the game but living life by a different script. This year, in conjunction with World Vision, the Rugby Players Fellowship in Kenya will host Timo Tagaloa, a former New Zealand rugby player during the Safari Sevens in June. Tagaloa has previously shared testimonies about finding purpose in his life (beyond stardom on the rugby pitch), finding direction and the strength to live for God and not man. The first rugby match was played in Kenya in 1909. No one could have imagined what a fanatical following Kenyan rugby would have - over one

hundred years later. The national sevens team has put Kenya on the map for all the right reasons. Young children want to be like them, adults are proud to know them. There is no doubt that the entire country is looking forward to yet another electrifying Sevens tournament. And even though the outcome of the matches that will be played are not certain, one sure thing is that a group of former players and fans will be working to win souls and hearts of people for God even as their counterparts fight for victory on the pitch. �

Kenya Rugby Players Fellowship play a game of touch rugby.

www.kwelimag.com | ISSUE 2 | MAY 10 13


kaKWELI Bamburi Rugby Super Series  

Excitement over the upcoming Safaricom Sevens has reached fever pitch after an exciting final at the Bamburi Rugby Super Series this weekend...

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