Kenya’s women rugby team hopes to shine at the rugby sevens at the Rio Olympics by evoking the fighting spirit of their “lioness” tag.
They will become the first world’s top women’s sevens players in the Olympic games in August after a 92-year absence freeze of the game.
Kenya has had a fabulous history in rugby, which has strengthened the women’s team. They are confident of winning more games in the Rio Sevens.
“The Olympics is a big stage for any athlete, it’s a big thing for any athlete and I believe I will give nothing to chance. I will drill my girls to the best they can (be) and have the best result they can bring home,” said Mark Shemiah, coach of Kenya’s Women Rugby team.
However, the women’s team has struggled to emerge from the shadow of the more established male team, who have made huge strides on the sevens circuit.
“In our country right now, there is a lot of awareness of women’s rugby, which wasn’t there. Actually you tell someone you are playing they wonder ‘what is rugby? Do ladies play?’ Right now you tell them you play and they are like the ones who are going for Olympics,” said Celestine Masinde, a lioness player.
Kenya only qualified for the Olympics after continental rivals South Africa decided not to go to Brazil.
There is a dedicated women’s rugby league in Kenya with eight teams competing weekly with about 200 players. There is also a school rugby competition to identify potential talents.