Marion Serenge
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Sirenge football trilogy: Father, son and daughter playing for 3 different national teams

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Kenya, Junior Starlets player Marion Serenge celebrates her goal against Burundi during the Fifa Under 17 Women World Cup qualifiers match on June 16, 2024, at Ulinzi Sports Complex.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

On June 16 when Kenya’s Junior Starlets qualified for the 2024 Fifa Under-17 Women’s World Cup, making history for the country, a family in Kakamega County was  over the moon.

Kenya’s qualification for the tournament completed a rosy chapter in the family history of former Kenyan international striker Fred Serenge, who is father to Junior Starlets utility player Marion Serenge.

Marion scored Junior Starlets’ opener in the 16th minute of the match, leading to a 2-0 victory against Burundi in the return leg of the fourth round of their 2024 Fifa Under-17 Women’s World Cup qualifier match at Ulinzi Sports Complex in Nairobi.

Marion’s elder brother Amwayi currently plays as midfielder for Football Kenya Federation Premier League club Kakamega Homeboyz.

Marion’s mother, Maximila Shikanga, is a former rugby player, and her younger sister Queensly Mumasi, who is in fifth grade, has also developed an interest in football and plays as a striker.

“We were all celebrating with her mum, who had come with me to Ulinzi Sports Complex in Nairobi to watch the match. I’m a proud dad and impressed because she has given me a great achievement as a father. She accomplished what I did not achieve as a player,” an overjoyed Serenge said of her daughter in an interview with Nation Sport. Junior Starlets triumphed 5-0 on aggregate, securing a spot in the 2024 Fifa Under-17 Women’s World Cup, which will be played in the Dominican Republic from October 16 to November 3 later this year.

Kevin Amwayi.

Kakamega Homeboyz midfielder Kevin Amwayi.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

Marion’s achievement at a young age has served as motivation for his older brother Amwayi.

“I felt really happy that my younger sister is flying our family flag high. I didn’t attend the match but I watched her on TV. We have now followed in the footsteps of our grandfather and father. I didn’t watch my grandfather play, but I am happy that we have picked up from where they left,” Amwayi, who has also played for Tusker FC and Western Stima, said.

Electrifying energy

Marion remembers the electrifying energy of the crowd on the day of the match, and the intensity of the game.

The 16-year-old is a Form Four student at Archbishop Njenga Girls High School in Kakamega County. In total, eight members of the Junior Starlets squad are Form Four students.

Marion has spoken of her joy in fulfilling a life-long dream of making it to the Fifa World Cup.

“I think I am on the right path to achieving my dreams. It is every footballer’s dream to play at the World Cup in their careers. As a team, we were driven by the fact that no football team from Kenya has ever qualified for the Fifa World Cup. This is an important opportunity, and I am optimistic that scouts from top clubs worldwide will be watching us in the Dominican Republic. We have given our best, and now it’s time to showcase Kenyan football to the world,” Marion says.

In the third round of the qualifiers where Kenya defeated Ethiopia 3-0 on aggregate, Marion says that she got a message of encouragement from her father. Regrettably, she did not manage to score a goal on the day.

“My father messaged our coach to tell me that he wanted the goals to flow. Unfortunately, I could not score on the day. However, the night before the final match at home, he texted me, telling me to make him and the country proud by adhering to the coach’s instructions. I followed his advice to the letter. Both he and my mum attended the game, being my pillars of support,” she said.

Marion began her football journey in secondary school and credits her father, a former player and coach, with the success she now enjoys. Her father is her inspiration and mentor.

Form Two

“I began playing football in Form Two. At first, I hesitated to join due to its physical demands of the game, and fear of injury. It never crossed my mind that I would eventually play the game,” she said

“My dad is my role model and mentor and my coach. I admired how he played in his prime, and I always aspired to be like him, but I hesitated to follow in his footsteps earlier. Witnessing my dad coaching my peers at Njenga Girls Secondary School during evenings inspired me to take up the sport. The rest is history,” Marion, whose preferred subjects at school are French and English, added. Outside of class and the pitch, she enjoys swimming, shopping, dancing, and traveling.

Former Kenyan international Fred Serenge.

Former Kenyan international Fred Serenge.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

Her star shone bright in the grassroots football tournament ‘Chapa Dimba na Safaricom’ in Kakamega County where she was awarded as the Most Valuable Player. She was in Talanta Hela Under-19 team that toured Spain for the Costa Daurada Cup earlier this year, finishing runners-up.

In a closely contested match at Nastic Stadium in Taragona, Spain, Marion’s team lost 2-0 to Sporting de Portugal on penalties after a 1-1 draw in regular time.

“Participating in such tournaments has enabled me to travel and connect with people I never thought I’d meet. These opportunities enable us to showcase our talents. My ultimate goal is to play for a top European clubs in future,” she says. She is fan of English Premier League side Manchester City.

Being a Form Four student, she has struck a fine balance between sports and academic work. 

“There’s a time for everything. While our days are spent in class, evenings are dedicated to training on the pitch to stay physically fit. Education is essential and is complemented by talent; I strive to maintain a balance between the two. We appreciate the Ministry of Sports and the Ministry of Education for their supportive initiatives,” Marion, who favours jersey number 10, says.

She loves fries and chicken, and she admires Brazilian striker Geyser da Silva Ferreira, who plays for English Women’s Premier League side Manchester United.

She can also play as a forward, right winger or left winger.

Butere Boys

Amwayi, former student of Butere Boys Secondary School, helped Kakamega Homeboyz qualify for CAF Confederation Cup in August last year. He scored his team’s only goal in the 80th minute in a league match over Tusker FC at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on August 27 last year. But Homeboyz crashed out 4-1 against Al Hilal Benghazi from Libya in the subsequent round.

Amwayi’s big moment arrived in FKF Cup final victory that secured the team’s spot in the Caf Confederation Cup.

In a tense showdown against Tusker FC, Amwayi’s skills shone through as he netted the solitary goal that secured victory for the Kakamega-based team.

Marion’s younger sister Mumasi, who is in fifth grade, has also developed an interest in football and plays as a striker.

The senior Serenge is a former Kenyan international and played for local league teams Tusker FC, AFC Leopards, Red Berets, Ministry of Water FC, and Kisumu Breweries. He currently coaches Archbishop Njenga Girls High School football team.

“I consider my family’s football journey a tale of connections. I have had a significant impact on Kenyan football. After retiring in 1998, I view my journey as a successful one. Having transitioned to coaching in women’s football, I can proudly say that I have achieved a lot,” Serenge, who also coached the Kenya Under-17 women’s and men’s national teams, says.

Marion’s mother Shikanga took a different path in sports, playing rugby for Kabras Women RFC and retired from the game five years ago.