Kenya’s Peris Mukoko is fast establishing herself as one of the leading women in African rugby as females continue to make their mark in the game across the continent and the globe.
After being named as one of 12 Rugby Africa Unstoppables in 2020, the Board member, Educator and match official continued her rise in rugby by being named as one of the recipients of the 2021 World Rugby Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarship.
Given her inspirational growth in the game from her early days as a high school player, Mukoko takes the honors as Rugby Africa’s Women in Leadership for the month of May.
- Describe what being one of only 12 recipients worldwide for this year’s World Rugby Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarship programme means to you?
I am excited and very happy to have been selected as a scholarship recipient.
This is an amazing opportunity and I look forward to connecting with amazing women from across the world.
It is an honor for me, and I am eager to represent my country and all the girls and women involved in rugby across Kenya.
- Do you have an initial vision of what you would like to achieve in women’s rugby in Africa going forward following your selection for the programme?
First, I’d like to form a network from which I can draw expertise, support, and feedback to help grow the women’s game in my home country and across the continent as well. Using the knowledge and skills gained from the programme I’d like to create more opportunities for women to take up leadership and administrative roles in rugby, and in turn, open more pathways to participation in the game as an alternative to playing.
- How did you get into rugby – explain your journey to this point?
I have been actively involved in rugby for over 15 years in different roles.
I started as a player in high school back in 2005 when a group of girls came together to form a team – which was a first in the school’s history.
We received a lot of support from the head coach and the players at that time, and we were able to pick up the sport quickly.
A few of us went on to play for one of only two ladies clubs during school holidays and we eventually made it all the way to the National team.
In 2008 I switched to officiating full time, and I am still an active match official to date.
In 2013 I became an accredited World Rugby Educator, was co-opted into the Kenya Rugby Union board as a Director in 2019, and more recently I was nominated to the Rugby Africa Referee committee.
- What do you love most about the positions you occupy in rugby?
As a match official – applying the rules of the game on the field of play, and the interactions with fellow match officials, players, coaches and club officials. This makes it worthwhile.
As an Educator – the transfer of knowledge, walking with match officials in the accreditation journey, and the opportunity to empower more match officials through education.
As a Board Member – taking part in policy formulation, contributing to the development of the game, and pushing the women’s agenda at the top level.
As a Rugby Africa Referee committee member – pushing the gender agenda once again and working with a brilliant team that is determined to push the level of match officiating to the top within the region, and also ensuring that this is emulated within the member unions as we continue to create an environment for qualified match officials.
- What is your vision for women’s rugby in the next five to 10 years?
I’d like to see increased competitions for women and girls across the globe, such that we reach a point where it is similar the men’s game.
This picture includes a Junior World Rugby Championship and a Junior World Rugby Trophy Competition for girls happening concurrently in different locations.
- Who are your role models?
I have two role models – Alhambra Nievas and Grace Kiraguri.
Alhambra Nievas is a mother, wife, match official and an Educator. She juggles so much at the same time and makes it look effortless. Over and above this, she is a remarkable champion for women’s rugby and the growth of the sport.
Grace Kiraguri is a long-time friend and mentor. She is a go-getter who is not afraid to take on the establishment. I have seen her set goals and work extremely hard to achieve them. This includes landing contracts and performing roles that would seem impossible. Her outlook on life is admirable and always positive.
- What advice would you give to women and young girls who aspire to follow in your footsteps in rugby in future?
You can achieve anything you set your mind to and surpass it. Do not let fear and prejudice hold you back – you are a star in whatever you choose to do.
Also align yourself with those who will be influential in your journey.