IN GULU, UGANDA
Kenya will kook to extend her dominance in hockey at this year’s Brookside East African Secondary School Games that get underway on Saturday in Gulu, Uganda.
Since the inaugural edition in 2002, Kenyan schools have won both boys’ and girls’ titles, and they will again be overwhelming favourites to dominate this year’s games.
In girls’ category, reigning champions Sinyolo Girls lead the hunt for more glory alongside national champions St Cecilia Misikhu and debutantes St Joseph’s Kitale. Sinyolo will be looking to make it five titles in a row at this year’s event.
Since bursting onto the regional scene in 2013, when they won the first national title, the Nyanza-based school won the regional title on their debut in the same year in Lira, Uganda. They retained the regional title in 2014 (Dar es Salaam), 2015 (Huye, Rwanda) and 2016 (Eldoret) to underline their dominance.
Sinyolo has produced players currently playing for national women’s hockey teams, among them strikers Gilly Okumu of Strathmore University Scorpions and Telkom Orange’s speedy forward Maureen Okumu.
The disappointment of losing their national title in April this year has given the Aloice Owino-led side extra motivation to go the extra mile.
“The regional games is always a good hunting ground for us and we aim to extend this good record. It’s unfortunate we didn’t win the national title but that is now water under the bridge,” Owino said Friday. Siblings Alice and Maureen Awiti will be key for the team’s hunt for a fifth title after impressing at the nationals where Alice was voted the Most Valuable Player in the discipline.
“The pressure is on us the champions and we aim to lead the rest of the Kenyan sides to a clean sweep,” Owino added.
National champions Misikhu will be hoping for a better showing on their third appearance at the games. Misikhu won the title in the 2009 edition held in Fort Portal, Uganda before taking bronze in 2013. Their coach Robert Kanga is eyeing a golden return to Uganda.
“We come here as national champions and that gives the confidence to succeed. Everyone wrote us off at the nationals and we surprised them, we want to prove that lifting the national title was no fluke,” he said. The Kenyan schools will come up against the Ugandan quartet of Hockey Girls Kakungulu Memorial, St Mary’s Namagunga, Bweranyange Girls and Old Kampala. The teams will play in a round-robin format.
In the boys’ category, national champions St Anthony’s Boys, Upper Hill and Kisumu Day will fly Kenya’s flag.
At the same time, Sega Secondary School and Wiyeta Girls have been warming up adjacent to one another at Sacred Heart Secondary School.
Sega are playing volleyball while Wiyeta footballers dribble past cones. Sooner there is handball team and another volleyball team using the same facility.
All have one thing in common – they want to win gold. “All teams that have come here are targeting gold,” John Stone Makabwa, the principal of Sega, said on the sidelines.
They finished third at last year’s East Africa Secondary School Games in Eldoret but think they can go one step better this. Makabwa is backing on Hilda ‘Kipi’ Jepkogei to deliver the title.
The young setter is fondly referred to as “Wanja” after veteran Kenyan setter Janet Wanja.
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