The Lionesses of Africa – The Kenya Lionesses were Africa’s representatives in the women’s rugby sevens tournament at the just concluded Olympics. For some on the squad, it was the culmination of a long journey through rugby, for the newbies it was the start of many miles to cover.
With a lot more exposure and investment in the women’s game, Kenya is definitely in with a chance to qualify for future games and the World Series.
Exposure and constant competition is important in the sense that it exposes the entire team (players and technical bench alike) to competition from different parts of the world. This enables the team encounter and adapt different tactics and styles of play based on the opposition they face. With this exposure, the skill sets of the players and technical bench are improved, and so are their standards of play.
The Kenya Rugby Union is encouraging more participation among women through a number of initiatives such as the World Rugby Get Into Rugby program which simply sets out to target children (boys and girls) to get into the game. They are then encouraged to keep playing by way of regular, organized competition
The KRU has also liaised with the Ministry of Education and the Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association to encourage the girls game in all institutions of learning (primary, secondary and tertiary). This is liaison, coupled with the existing talent identification centers in Western and Nairobi, envisages identifying talent for further progression into a high performance environment that will serve as a pathway to the national team set up.
A pilot women’s league was held in 2015, but the long term plan at Kenya Rugby is to have them play regularly over a longer period of time. This will also tie into the talent identification initiatives currently taking place. As matters currently stand, women’s competition has been limited to exhibition matches at tournaments.
These projects are bearing fruit. Already, there is new talent coming through the ranks and the player base is gradually increasing. The quality and standards of play will eventually improve in the long run. The future of women’s rugby in Kenya is bright.
Credit to : Michael Kwambo KRU’s communication manager