Many know her for her exploits on the rugby pitch but off of it, 33 year old Celestine “Cele” Masinde, the scorer of Kenya's first ever try at the Olympics is also an entrepreneur. The Stanbic Mwamba and Kenya Lionesses center has taken the plunge into the health drinks sector through her Celemass Health Products brand.
Born and raised in Nairobi, Cele, an alumnus of Wanja and Kim School and State House Girls High School is the last born in a family of five. She has a day job as a Credit Control Team leader at Swipe Recoveries Experts and holds a Bachelors Degree in Acounting and Finance from the St. Pauls University, Limuru.
Getting into rugby
Cele, who is currently pursuing a post graduate degree at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology was convinced to join rugby by Irene Cheriya.
“I used to play basketball in high school and joined Kencom Lionesses after high school. I was there for probably a year or two and that's where I met Irene Cheriya who told us about rugby. My best friend tried to convince me to give it a try but I was skeptical as I felt rugby was too rough.”
The allure of a trip to Uganda changed Cele's attitude towards rugby.
“My friend gave it a try and informed me of a trip to Uganda that was coming up the following week. It got me thinking about the way I had been playing basketball for a year and the only trip I had gone on with my club was to Kisumu. I opted to give it a try, made the team to Uganda where we were thrashed. I kept on playing basketball until our team was disbanded by the sponsors, KCB. This was my cue to try out something different and that is how I ended up playing rugby.”
Speaking about her earliest rugby memory, Cele says, “I was hit so hard during my first session. I didn’t go back for six months, not because I was injured but because I felt I couldn’t take it. Well, I went back and here I am!”
National team experience
The long serving Kenyan international also touches on her experiences representing the country. “There have been highs and lows. My proudest moment must have been the moment I scored a try on my maiden appearance for the national team, it was a clash against Uganda. The lowest moment has to be the death of our captain Abedeen Shikhoyi following injuries sustained during an Elgon Cup game against our great rivals Uganda in 2012.”
Lessons learnt from rugby
“Rugby has taught me to be determined and have that self- drive. It has given me a drive to achieve more and has taught me discipline, integrity and team work. I apply these lessons in my life on a day to day basis as well.
I also feel privileged as a woman to have represented the country at the highest levels in the land. I get a lot of fulfilment from these experiences as they give me purpose and a sense of belonging.”
Striking the perfect balance
“Being an active rugby player, a career woman, a part time student and an entrepreneur is no mean feat. Cele shares her insights on how she has been able to strike the perfect balance, saying, “What gives me the drive is the fear of failure. Rugby’s values of Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship have been key in helping me maintain a balance. I believe in putting my best foot forward in everything that I do, on and off the pitch.”
It has not been easy though, it takes hard work, determination and sacrifice. If you are not able to set your priorities right and strike that balance, you will struggle in other areas of your life. I strive for excellence…it is through excellence that I have been able to strike this balance.
Cele, in her own words, was born into an entrepreneurial family, she says, “I was born into a bloodline full of business savvy women. It is only my sister and I who are currently in formal employment, the rest, my mum included, are entrepreneurs.”
She recently ventured into health foods after commencing production of a Hibiscus based health drink through her Celemass Health Products brand.
Commenting on the inspiration behind the health drink, Cele says, “It was during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil when I came across the selection of food and beverages in the health food section in the diner at the games village. I tasted this nicely flavored drink which I was later told had hibiscus among its ingredients.”
It gave her the inspiration to produce something similar back home with the aim of positively impacting society in general and sport in particular.
“Upon my return home, I had a conversation with my sister about the drink and what we could do but we didn’t do much then. We picked up the conversation after the 2018 Commonwealth Games and roped in our cousin and after the relevant formalities at various Government agencies, got the idea off the ground,” she says, adding, “I am particularly happy that our organic health drink is slowly being embraced in the market and we can only hope for bigger and better things.”
Every new venture into entrepreneurship is not without its challenges, something that Cele acknowledges, saying, “There is self-doubt and then there is the issue of finances. I decided to approach people that support me, believe in me and fully buy into the idea.”
“It has also been challenging getting the required approvals and certification from the Government, additionally finding the right platform to showcase and sell the product.”
Cele’s parting shot, “Being a woman in sport drives me to achieve more. My advice to everyone out there is be determined, be focused, forget about the noise and keep your eye on the prize. Stick to your plan, continue to stay self-driven even when it seems challenging. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will believe in you.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Kenya Rugby Union (KRU).
Celestine Masinde’s Balancing Act