What you need to know:
- Aeronautical engineer Moses Atenya is one of the top floorball players in Kenya.
- He is one of the pioneers of the sport in Kenya and has played it since it was started in the country in 2015.
- He is the second-born in a family of four and an alumnus of Butere Miracle Academy, Kibabii Boys High School and Kenya Aeronautical College.
- Floorball, a fast-paced hockey-like sport, is gaining popularity in Kenya. It is an indoor sport played on the rink by five players and a goalkeeper in each team. However in Kenya, the sport which is governed by the Floorball Federation of Kenya (FFK) is mostly played outdoors.
- Players use sticks and a plastic ball with holes. Matches are played in three 20-minute periods. There is no offside and goals can be scored from anywhere.
- Player-coach Moses was part of Team Kenya that bagged both the men’s and women’s titles at the Africa Floorball Cup in Nairobi in 2019.
You play so many sports, how do you manage to do this yet you are also an engineer?
I played football both as a striker and a defender in primary school, then did almost all sports that were in our school in Kibabii, majoring in basketball. I was encouraged to play basketball by national team twins Celia and Selina Okumu who were at Butere Girls High School at the time where my mother worked as the principal.
Unfortunately, when I came to Nairobi in 2012, I did not get a basketball club. During that time, I was introduced to skating by Philip Ingutya and later roll ball (a game combining roller skates, basketball, handball, and throwball). I also play pickleball (a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong), Kho kho (a tag game from India) as well as basketball, freestyle jumps for skating and freestyle slalom. I manage to do all these by having a timetable which I follow strictly.
Tell us more about your life as a floorball player
It all started in 2015 when Swiss coaches came to Kenya to popularise floorball through the Floorball 4 All organisation. At the time, I was a student at the Kenya Aeronautical College at Wilson Airport.
They organised a tournament with a Sh15,000 cash prize, which really motivated us. We participated under the captaincy of Brian Macharia and when we won it in 2016, the school started supporting us seriously. They gave us jerseys and transportation, and plastered photos of the team on the school’s walls. Other athletes at the school were challenged to emulate us. This motivated us further and spurred the growth of the sport in the school.
When we finished college in 2016, we started the Blackbirds Floorball Club which was based at Langata Prisons, and then we moved to YMCA in South C and now at the ICC Church at Nyayo National Stadium. Blackbirds has united us as the KAC alumni and for us it is more than just a sport.
The journey seems to have been smooth without any challenges…
Actually, we encountered several challenges, but the main one is lack of sponsors. All floorball equipment is lightweight. Balls are made of plastic and the sticks are made of fibreglass, carbon composites and plastic. One floorball stick costs between Sh2,000 and Sh5,000 depending on whether it is new or second-hand. These sticks break easily when stepped on and you have to get a new one. They also wear out with time. And, you cannot find a good quality floorball blade for less than Sh500.
Being an indoor sport, there is a challenge of getting a venue since we only have Kasarani Indoor Stadium which serves other sports disciplines as well. It means most of the time we play outdoors. You can’t play floorball on a muddy or dusty pitch. Initially, the league did not offer any prize money, but things are slowly improving.
What lessons have you picked from having participated in all these sports?
First, tactics from one sport can be used to achieve excellence in another. For example, my basketball skills have helped me while I’m playing roll ball. There are a lot of verses in the Bible that are useful for athletes, especially those that touch on virtues such as perseverance and endurance.
Playing multiple sports has also made me a better time manager. I plan my day well so that I can have time for training and competition. Sports also unify us as humans. Through these sports I have been able to maintain physical fitness, develop sound leadership skills and foster teamwork. I also have a network of friends from Switzerland, Uganda, Sweden, Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire and as you know, your networks are your net worth.
Who is your role model?
I have three – Swiss former professional tennis player Roger Federer, NBA star Stephen Curry and our own Kenyan javelin thrower Julius Yego. I like the discipline of Federer. I don’t remember reading or witnessing any cases of indiscipline from him. I have watched the Steph Curry documentary. Many people said he could not make it in the NBA, but he has proved them wrong by becoming a four-time champion. I like his attitude, how he interacts with team-mates and his dribbling techniques. Yego trained himself without a coach, and learnt his skill on YouTube. His story inspired me to learn how to swim through YouTube. After a weekend of sports action, I normally go swimming. It helps with hydrotherapy, endurance and also to gain muscles.
What is Atenya Airways? Tell us more about this…
It is a brand I started that urges Kenyans to promote their own country. The motto of this brand is “Fly vile inafaa” (fly the right way). Basically, the brand seeks to encourage Kenyans to travel around the country first, so that they can be better ambassadors for Kenya when they go abroad. We also sell hoodies and notebooks branded Atenya Airways.
You come from a sporting family, who are your siblings?
My younger brother, Bonveal Atenya Magoslo, played rugby for the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), but dropped it. He had actually gone to hospital after being stabbed, but medical scans revealed he had some serious internal injuries from playing rugby so he had to quit. Another brother of mine, Maurice Odhiambo, played rugby for the University of Eldoret. My cousins Martha Shisia and Mical Mumani play floorball for Tsunami Floorball Club.
Apart from sports, what else do you do?
I coach skating. I love photography and videography, so I’m also learning these skills, as well as public and motivational speaking. I like to improve myself, so I have also studied sign language.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to take up sports?
They should definitely give it a try. Participation in sports is very beneficial, especially to children. They learn at an early age that there’s winning and losing, and they can apply these lessons later in life. You can also earn from sports, and you can also get scholarships, so let parents expose their children to sport.